By Walter Mbita
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly disrupted livelihoods in Kenya for the past five months. The crisis has left many wondering how the situation is going to be in some days to come.
The entire global economy has been deeply affected. Many sectors have been disrupted, entertainment industry being one of them.
There are no more shows and live performances by artistes both at local and international level. This has left many artistes to think deeply and come up with a solution on how they will continue entertaining their fans and make a living out of it.
At the international level, some popular musicians have devised new ways of entertaining their fans.
The American rapper Lil Wayne is currently doing an online radio show dubbed ‘Young Money Radio’. The show is a platform where he interviews his fellow artistes on how they are coping with the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Kenya, artistes and social media influencers seem to take this pandemic as if it is not a big deal. They are doing online shows and through that, they are helping their fellow artistes to raise money to help them.
Kenyan social media influencer Xtian Della has recently started an online Instagram live show. On this show, Xtian invites young dancers to showcase and perform live and whoever will win the dance challenge is given some money via m-pesa, a move that has really helped many local artistes in terms of well-being.
Another popular media personality Felix Odwuor alias Jalango is also doing online shows on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube. The show is named Bonga na Jalas.
The show has been trending at number one as the most watched online shows by Kenyans amid the Covid-19. Jalango’s show is majorly focusing on how the Kenyan artistes and other most influential people are coping with the coronavirus and how they are coming along to help the people hard hard by the situation.
”I created my You Tube channel few years ago but I was not that much active so when the Covid-19 hit the country before I left Milele Fm to Kiss I started an online show for interviews on how people are coping with the situation especially the artistes, and so far it has been doing well and I really appreciate that,” Jalango said.
Kenya’s popular gospel rapper Ecko Dydda said since the coronavirus outbreak in the country, he has done many online shows. ”So far I have done couple of shows through online and this pandemic has taught us that always prepare for anything in life and most importantly to be creative especially during such times like this. It is a lesson to my fellow artistes in the industry,” Ecko Dydda said.
Ecko, who was arrested for flaunting curfew rules, said he made friends in the police cell and he learnt a lot of things.
In April, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government was going to give artistes Sh100 million to support them after the pandemic cut off their source of income.
However, some artistes claim that they have not seen even a cent of the money promised by the President. According to Red Pen, an afro pop gospel artiste, he does not know anyartiste who has benefitted from the funds. “Yes, there is money which the government promised to give to the Kenyan artistes to help us out but until now no one has received it yet. I have not received neither do I know someone who has benefitted from the said funds,” Red Pen said.
For now, he says, he is just surviving by God’s grace. He advised his fellow artistes who could be going through this tough time to not lose hope.
Some established have however taken upon themselves to help those who have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Nonini Mgenge who has been in the music industry for a decades has come out to help people in the community by giving basket of flour and sanitary pads to the girls in the informal settlements like Mathare.
“It is a tough time for every Kenyan, but the best thing we can do is be there for each other. Care and help the less fortunate, but most importantly, let us follow the government’s directives so that we can flatten the curve,” Nonini said.
For the upcoming musicians in the ghetto, the situation is different. Felix Ashiono popularly known as Paps on the beat, who is a resident of Mathare slums, has ventured into mjengo to meet his needs. He no longer performs at any given show or event in the ghetto and outside.
Felix says in a day, he can get Sh600 after doing construction work and that can only happen when there are a lot of tenders. “Since coronavirus outbreak, I decided to put down my ego of being a celebrity in the hood and do what can help me in my life before things go back to normal,” Felix, who was supposed to drop a new single song in June, said.