UFISADI - SIMAMA
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The Nation (Nairobi)
29 September 2007
Although the Government claims it is committed to the fight against corruption, the vice continues, especially in the private sector. A recent Transparency International report shows that little has changed since Narc came to power in 2003.
According to the survey released last month, the average number of bribes doubled to 2.5 from 1.5 per person, while the average size of bribes declined from Sh1,700 to Sh1,236, showing an increase in soliciting smaller amounts.
The survey indicates that police topped the list among public institutions, and that the level of graft experienced by Kenyans has remained largely unchanged with respondents encountering bribes in 54 per cent of their interactions, as opposed to 47 per cent the previous year.
However, the vice's negative effects continue, as does sentisisation. And artistes have not been left behind in the crusade. With the help of the National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee, nine musicians have come up with a theme song with an anti-graft message, that the committee is currently using in the campaign.
The song, Simama (Stand up) by Mr Lenny, Wyre, Carol Atemi, Nyota Ndogo, Nameless, Suzanna Owiyo, Jimwat, Wahu and Jua Cali is an appeal to all Kenyans to come together and say enough is enough. It enumerates scenarios in which corruption denies Kenyans the services they pay taxes for. Produced by Homeboyz Entertainment, it comprises nine subtitles from each artiste and done in a language easy to understand.
In Amani's subtitle, Ongea, the singer sends a passionate appeal to Kenyans to be honest and speak out against corruption. According to the song, corruption will be eradicated only when all Kenyans play their part. In Umechoka, Wyre highlights the youth's struggles in their daily lives, and advises them on how to overcome graft by not giving in to it. He tells the story of a university graduate who struggles to find a job, but in vain. He then gets disillusioned with life and its challenges.
In Eish Bwana, Mr Lenny sings about a pregnant woman who goes to hospital to deliver, but faces so many corruption-related difficulties that she has a still-birth and dies. It is a sad song that depicts what women in the rural areas go through.
Coast-based Nyota Ndogo weighs in with Ufisadi (graft) and shows it can stagnate individuals, families and even nations, while Nameless has the Dream of seeing all Kenyans rejecting bribes.
The song paints a beautiful picture of a better tomorrow for the nation. He poses: "For how long will we be a Third World country yet we have all resources to be a First World?"
Afro-fusionist Owiyo sings Kom (Dholuo for chair), and compares the piece of furniture to leadership and power - looks attractive but is not easy to handle.
Power is one of the main causes of corruption as most leaders, once they ascend to power, forget to serve the electorate that placed them there, Owiyo croons. She advises Kenyans to wake up and vote wisely and drop corrupt leaders. Most of the lyrics are in Kiswahili and are very appropriate in this electioneering period. In Sitoi, Jimwat comically highlights graft among police. His message is tacit: bribery should not be a way of life, but Kenyans will do without it only if they know their rights as citizens.
Wahu wants to be shown a better way of doing things in Better Way. She challenges parents, guardians and leaders generally to show the youth the right way to conduct themselves, and wonders why Kenyans condemn corruption when they indulge in it.
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Jua Cali sings Karatasi (paper), a song that comically traces the many ways money can be used to change circumstances to suit the bribe giver.
The artistes are currently holding countrywide shows. The music will be on sale in CDs and cassettes at selected venues countrywide.
According NACCSC director Polycarp Omollo, the commitee believes that creatively composed music that draws from Kenya's cultural values and ethos, has the capacity to deal corruption a body blow.