Masquerading Kenyan gospel artists
Kenya is a country marred with controversies from the top leadership to the grassroots. It is hard to separate Kenyans from polemic. The two are like a person and his shadow, which are inseparable.
This article is mainly focusing on the rot in the gospel industry. Gospel songs are no longer noble and upright the way they used to be instead they have become disreputable and shameful. The industry has been hijacked by wolves in sheepskin. The life they live behind the scene is far off different from the one they portray on the pulpit.
I once attended a Nairobi church and what caught my ears is a plea from the cleric to his congregants. He implored his sheep to use hymn songs in worshipping and praising God. He decried over the state of gospel music which is deemed to be in its deathbed.
“It is not too late to go back to the old days, hymns are not obsolete. Let us embrace them,” the man of God reiterated.
The entry of young artists in music has further tainted the reputation of the once-revered industry. A number of them are serving their selfish ambitions that are fame and accumulations of wealth. Pride, squabbles, competition, sexual misconduct and unquestionable integrity are what characterize the outfit. God’s agenda does not come last in the musicians’ lists, it is completely missing.
According to Ghana Celebrities.com gospel music is any song that has a religious (Christianity) theme as its central message. Gospel means good news which is centred on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The song as long as the name Jesus or God is mentioned in any song in the East African country it automatically becomes gospel. An artist showers his girlfriend, political leader or any celebrity with praises then states God twice or thrice. Their songs are devoid of morals and legitimacy; hence cannot be sung in a church context.
In 2016, Jimmy Gait, a renowned gospel singer in the country hit the headlines over his controversial song “Yesu ndiye sponsor (Jesus is the sponsor). Mr Gait was reported to have been inspired by numerous cases of sponsors falling in love with young girls or ladies.
Sponsor is a term used in Kenya to refer to greedy politicians and old wealthy men who prey after young ladies. They use their wealth as a charm to lure the young queens.
The song drew criticism from citizens. They ridiculed the artiste labelling him a ‘disgrace’ to the gospel of Jesus.
“So Jimmy Gait has produced a song called ‘Yesu ndiye sponsor? This is where we have reached, comparing Jesus with Kenyan politicians,” one said.
Another person asked, “What is Jimmy Gait Smoking?”
Apart from this one, there are numerous songs dubbed gospel, however, they do not meet the standard of good news. They also lack content, revelation and God’s authority to encourage believers. The songs are pure hogwash used by the owners as a ladder to publicity among others.
Feuds among the so-called ministers of God are nerve-wracking. Some have embroiled in a heated exchange of words over song stealing raising more questions about their relationship with God. It is alleged there are higher chances of one bribing the producer of the opponent to get the song, modify and release it ahead of the owner.
Another aspect of the modern artists that raises an eyebrow is the lifestyle. Dreadlocks, sagging of trousers and dreadful mode of dressing involving tight attires are not new without mentioning horrible styles of dances borrowed from secular music. Secular is gospel and vice versa.
Scores of people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the current state of the industry. They recall the old days when one would listen and hear any song without feeling ashamed.
Kenyans have not forgotten the era of late Emmanuel Emachichi and Angela Chibalonza. Despite their demise more than a decade ago their songs still, attract a huge number of followers and are among the most played in events, functions, homes and streets. The duo has been christened as the ‘anointed ones’ noting that their music was a reflection of their Christian faith.
The latter was famous for her ability to sing in more than one language, including Lingala, French, Ruganda and Kiswahili. The Congolese songwriter and singer won the hearts of many people during her stay in the country through her inspiring songs.
In conclusion, there are no differences between secular artistes and several of Kenya’s gospel musicians. Hypocrisy is the culture in such a way that the ‘servants of God’ pretend to be spreading the good when they are only in it for business. Rot in the industry is a real picture of the state of Kenyan church. The Church has been on the receiving end of criticism for failing to live as per the standards of the Holy Book that is the Bible. It is answerable to decay in society. The moral values taught in God’s word are not translated into a real-life situation. The church has been blamed for mal-administration in the government, such as corruption, extrajudicial killings, tribalism and nepotism and an escalation of political hatred is put on the church. It is alleged that preachers cannot spend time talking about the state of our characters because we love dramas and not the truth.
Sadly, the controversial lives of gospel artists have driven people away from church instead of uniting them in the body of Christ.
By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27
*Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.