By Ivan Mwine
Celebrated Genge-tone artist Exray Taniua’s popular hit ‘Sipangwingwi’ is literally rattling Kenya’s presidential campaigns ahead of the elections set for August this year.
Ever since Kenyan deputy president Dr. William Samoe Ruto decided to use ‘Simpangwingi’ as his official campaign song, the jam has sparked off widespread controversy among Kenyans.
This is because whereas some Kenyans love ‘Simpangwingwi’ and always go crazy whenever it is played on radio, TV or at Ruto’s campaign rallies, others, especially those sympathetic with the government, regard it as sectarian and aimed at creating divisionism amongst the voters.
Following the intense controversy that the ‘Simpangwingwi’ sparked off, the Kenyan government, through the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), has since decided to ban it, and in so doing escalating the matter, because it has become even more popular.
However, after the NCIC announcing the ban on ‘Sipangwingwi’, Ruto decided to hit studio and release another version of the song dubbed ‘Hatupangwingwi’, which has also attracted lots of publicity.
Ruto stormed studio just hours after the NCIC had listed ‘Hatupangwingwi’ among the words and phrases likely to spread hate during the ongoing electioneering period.
NCIC chairperson, Rev. Samuel Kobia, on Friday said that there are political expressions of hate in the ‘Sipangwingwi’ song that are triggering dissonance among communities and political followers of various parties.
“We know that death and life are in the power of the tongue. The commission has classified terms, which have been regularly used in Kenya’s political landscape with the intent to provoke violence among communities of diverse political viewpoints,” he said.
Meanwhile, a section of politicians has already questioned NCIC’s move to flag down the sheng word, wondering how it promotes hate speech.
Ruto selected Exray’s ‘Sipangwingwi’ as his official campaign song last year after it became a popular hit amongst Kenyans.
Exray released ‘Sipangwingwi’ five months ago via Black Market Records and the video has so far attracted over 6.5M views on YouTube and still counting.
It should be noted that Ruto is contesting for presidency on United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Ticket against Raila Odinga of the ruling Jubilee Party.