Any artist who uses his fame to reflect popular public opinion and frustration, posses immense potential of becoming a threat to any political establishment if the situation is not properly handled. Artists with razor sharp poetic and political minds are no doubt effective originators of conscious music that always rides on controversy and provocative lyrical content.
These artists transcend from conventional arts into radicalized arts. They become more than just singers but opinion-setters through their use of spicy and calculative radical views. Legendary Nigerian artist Fela Kuti epitomizes this type of artistry. No wonder, in certain quarters, he was described as a political insurrectionist and not a mere artist. To fight back this special kind of artistic ability requires intellectual sobriety and political maturity. This is not the kind of art you suppress with emotional and political scavenging or hunting, but one that you reason with by giving them audience and to submit their feelings – some people’s feelings. And those in authority must always be cognizant of the fact that any reckless attempts at trying to use ‘sledge hammer’ tactics to suppress this type of artistic ability has a very serious potential to steer a more and more extremist course in terms of production of radicalized criticism. Also, a tougher approach in dealing with such, ends up identifying such artists as symbols of resistance who eventually grow offshoots, in form of other equally radicalized artists with more intoxicating poetic and provocative lyrical content, all aimed at seeking unanimity with the masses.
In fact, this reminds me of how we panicked when Dandy Krazy – the brains behind the famous ‘Don’t Kubeba’ song that propelled Michael Sata and the PF into office in 2011 – expressed regret in composing the song and publicly cited the PF’s alleged failures at the time as the reason for his change of heart. When I heard about Dandy’s feelings, I quickly rushed to president Sata regarding the same and proposed that he meets the artist and have a heart-to-heart chat with him to get into his mind and, if possible, clarify and settle certain misconceptions and misgivings the artist might have had about the government. I didn’t want to downplay Dandy’s influence and talent to create a storm for us just like he did for the MMD, resulting in them losing power. That is why I favoured the idea of the President meeting with him.
I recall telling President Sata that: “…Mr. President, the most dangerous weapon against you is one that is readily available for usage by your critics. The one that is laying idle in your backyard because it needs no purchase or cleaning since it’s already there and set to be in the next handler’s hand.”
The President saw my point and agreed to my proposal and a meeting with Dandy was immediately arranged. So what am I saying here? What I’m saying is that at times, it’s very critical to create space for our leaders to meet and personally engage with the most critical minds to their reign, as this will enable the critics to seek clarification on certain pressing issues affecting them, the masses and the country at large. This way, both the leadership and the critics benefit because reasoning and logic, and not emotions and showboating, will prevail as the parties face each other in a more relaxed and welcoming environment. It has worked before and it can work again.