Dear Ezekiel Mutua,
This might come as a surprise to you but I am a writer. I have wild delusions that someday I will be able to sit at my desk and spin words to make a living. Yes, the writer dream is to get paid for their words – call me crazy, call me wild, call me any word that fits your description of morality for the sake of your integrity – but it is a dream I do hold dear. Do you know even something that’s crazier? That is a creatives dream. Musicians, artists, writers, actors, producers, heck even con-men; the list is endless but they want to earn from their talents. And as if this is not already hard enough; you come along the living embodiment of a writer’s block – with an idea that art should be regulated.
You see before you came along guns blazing waving the censorship flag, I had no idea who you were. Right now I am struggling to understand what you are. Fame chaser? A Christian? Devout? Standing for the word of God? Okay. But riddle me this Mutua (sir?), isn’t the whole basis of Christianity on creativity? I mean creativity comes from the word create and the world, according to your darling book, was created. This makes God, your God, the first creative to have ever lived. But I am not here to lecture you on religion, or teach you the basics of being a good Christian, no that I will not do; instead I will talk about myself as a writer.
You see the world I live in is not censored. It is as raw and rated R as it gets. Because you cannot censor real life. It is almost impossible to do it and every day the society we live in either amazes us with acts of kindness or shocks us with inhumane acts. It is from these acts that we (I?) draw inspiration from. But you’d like to think that we somehow sit down and discuss on how immoral we want our art to be? No sir. What we do is hold up a mirror to society and from your reaction the reflection has you scared. But you are not interested in cleaning up that image are you? No. What you want to do is get rid of the mirror in itself bury our heads in the sand like nothing is happening. Why? Because out of sight out of mind?
Your biggest conviction so far is morality, it is what drives you, you throw that word around so much it must feel dirty and used by now. But to people like me we do not see the morality you are talking about, all you have is a mission to ban anything that does not rub you the right way. Sir, it does not work like that. Morals are not what govern this country, the constitution does, and the constitution here is the law of the land; which I believe your good book endorses right?
Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex.
Yes that is a part of us and who we are. You have kids right so I don’t need to spell it out to you what it is. It is a societal reality that sex is happening. Between married people, between married people and unmarried people, between unmarried people, between people of the same sex, the damn thing is all over the place like a bad flu on a cold July. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, a conversation that needs to be had, and art has been at the forefront of having this conversation. Remember that Jimmy Gathu advert that aired a while back that forced people to have the mpango wa kando conversation? The ad where he (we?) acknowledged that couples are cheating on each other, perhaps now more than ever, thanks to technology. Tinder and the likes. I am surprised you have not said something about that yet. But back to Jimmy and his ad, Jimmy basically told all couples, to calculate how much they spent on extra marital affairs and stop.
But I don’t think this ad worked, not really, all he did was put into perspective how expensive it is to cheat, but like all expenses there is a cost benefit analysis. So maybe to the cheater it was worth it. So what happened next was an ad that talked about making sure to “put a condom in the plan” when having extra marital affairs. It was a discussion between two women in the market where one complained about a drunk husband. This ad while true raised so much controversy, a clear case of not wanting to look into the mirror. Even though such an ad had society in mind it somehow did not fit into a certain “moral” value that we clearly uphold as a country.
What about the dozens of stage plays written and directed every year centered on the theme of unfaithfulness? Stage plays you probably want to control now because they don’t represent the moral values of Kenya as a country, even though Kenya as a country does not uphold its own moral values. Will this burying our heads in the sand help? Is it not better for the conversation to be had, for the issue to be tackled head on, for us to accept it is one of our stark realities, for the message to be put across in the hopes that once we are shocked by our own reflection we will genuinely want to change? I think that’s better, better than stopping the message from being put across, which does more harm to the (your?) idea of moral values.
You do know the quickest way to make something popular right now is to ban it? Kenyans we love the illegal stuff. Remember that movie, what was it called? The wolf of Wall Street? It glorified sex and cocaine and embezzlement. It got banned in so many countries and we did not disappoint; we banned it too. But I guess by now you know more people watched it than if it had not been banned right? The movie could have just done with the highest classification from the board and that would have been good enough.
By now I am sure you’ve heard about the gay agenda. I don’t know how true this is; that forces in the media and fellows from abroad are trying to ‘sell’ us homosexuality? Sounds like a spun tale to me. You cannot sell sexuality to someone; you just can’t. Sexual orientation is something natural, like breathing. So by making it your mandate to ban anything that talks of sexual orientation in ways that do not please you is not censorship it is harassment. It is the denying of people their fundamental human rights of expression. You might argue your case on morality quoting the good book but the good book also advocates for love. Which brings us to a moral dilemma of your own, at what point do you decide to embrace the love and disregard it? What protocol do you use?
Yourself and your team are working under a very dangerous premise that homosexuality in the country can be sold. That by interacting with a gay person or with content that is gay in nature then in essence you can catch the gay bug. Which if true then means if we feed enough heterosexual material to the gays then we can change their orientation. But it doesn’t work like that does it? What you’re doing is taking a moral high-horse and hiding behind the veil of religion to advance an agenda that has no sound principle. I mean even when this issue was broached by Obama our president coined it a ‘non-issue’ which was more a way of skirting around the topic but agreeing to the fact that sexuality is not something of national concern. It seems to me you’re operating more on fear than information. But you can’t be afraid forever can you? At some point you will have to face your fears. Kind of like you did with Joji Baro during that discussion you guys held and later wished away. He was in your face, you called him madam, and I cannot imagine what was going through your head. But I do hope more than anyone it was Christian thoughts, no shred of hate and subtle judgement on a fellow human being. But I can only guess.
But sir, I digress. I know as much as the law as you know about the atheist society in Kenya. But I do know that the law was not made to oppress people like me, people hoping to one day make a living out of the creative juices flowing in my blood. To stifle a dream that someday when my daughter is in a class and they are asked what daddy does; they can say I am a writer. That on such a day it will be cool, right up there with astronauts and accountants – a noble profession. But it looks like you are a threat to this dream. That if you have your way soon I might have to start looking like the villain of the story. The bad guy who steals the protagonist’s woman and forces him to do bad things failure to which he kills her.
But you see I am also a fair person, I can see where it is you are coming from, but your approach is all wrong. Yes the society has its values, the church, the mosque, the temple, the plate of the flying spaghetti monster, the family and each individual have their own. Yours or your religions alone cannot be used as a blanket cover for all things moral. We are a diverse nation and we have diverse ideas. If any of these ideas and their implementation does not break the law then your convictions remain just that yours, you too should obey the law and not to try to change it so that it can allow your convictions to be superior to others.
We, I, am tired of this whole conversation that sees you take the high horse. A conversation that paints you as some modern day Jesus trying to save the country from the clutches of the devil when in my eyes you are it. Coming in to steal, kill and destroy our ideas. Some conversations need to be had, heard and we will have them. You can either choose to be a part of it, or step aside and let those that want to be a part of it be.
“Man’s mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions – Oliver Wendell”