If there is a man who rattles and disturbs creative minds in Kenya then it has to be the one and only Ezekiel Mutua. Every time he tweets or walks to a news conference, the creative world in this great country quivers and runs for safety. This infamous public figure has grown tall over us, trashing and vomiting on thespians, art enthusiasts and media freedom. He has turned the Creative industry to a ball of remnants that should be done away with. To him, artists, writers, actors and practitioners in the media are irritating ‘things’ that should be expunged with guns blazing. With the same gusto and conviction Moi government declared Mau Mau activists terrorists, Ezekiel Mutua has used the same pen and spirit to conclude that creatives are a sore in the eye.
What an unfortunate tragedy it is that talented young people have to apologize and beg for acceptance for pursuing their passions. That an overzealous man in the name of Ezekiel Mutua can sit down in his office pulling a smiley face and tend to think of what next can raise hues and cry in the public domain. The fact that Kenya has produced thespians that have had the world wag its neck and solicited for a piece of them, he should know better and stopped proposing draconian laws that only make him a stumbling block to the advancement of the Creative industry.
What has become a norm these days whenever Mutua opens his mouth, he leaves many of us badly wounded. He scatters our hard work and renders us hopeless. He wakes up armed with his so called proposals that are only meant to curtail and strangle talents of innocent Kenyans. Interestingly, he has awarded himself the role of patronising our moral dispensation which by the way is far from his mandate. A man who bites more than he can chew, Mutua cuts out as man with tendencies of wielding imaginary powers, putting a lid on how far we can enjoy online products. He has also gone further and capped how far we can go in terms of innovation, creating online products and sharing them across social media.
Instead of Mutua inspiring, helping nurture and protect media freedom and content creators he has instead chose to make headlines for his wishy washy suggestions and voodoo proposals. Some may ask, where is my venting coming from? See, Kenya Film Classification Board came to life through an Act of parliament specifically Cap 222 that gives powers to KFCB to regulate the creation, broadcasting, possession, distribution and exhibition of films in the country with a view to promote national values and morality. This begs the question; WHAT IS A FILM? Oxford English Dictionary defines a film as a story or event recorded by a camera as a set of moving images and shown in a cinema or on television. Mind you, cap 222 was created before the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, and since no law acts outside the constitution, KFCB is compelled to operate and conform to laws that were enacted in the 2010 constitution. The point is, Constitution of Kenya is supreme and nowhere does it recognise KFCB!
Dear Mr. Mutua, is recording weddings occasions and sharing videos on whatsapp really part and parcel of the spirit of Cap 222. Surely, is it about marketing products and services online? Bwana Mutua has given himself the mandate of regulating ads on T.Vs, websites and in social media. On that juncture, I can’t still understand what the definition of a film is. Further, KFCB has gone way ahead to ‘kidnap’ responsibilities of other agencies like Communication Authority(CA), Competition Authority of Kenya(CAK) and Media Council of Kenya(MAK). For Instance, MAK has a responsibility of ensuring media houses in Kenya operate within the law and that they do not air programs that do not augur well with the general public. MAK also accredits journalists and regulate professional standards in the media industry.
C.A has a mandate of censoring, or age restricting broadcast content to ensure that content which depicts or contains scenes rated as adult, or are of the language intended for adult audiences, are not aired during the watershed period. In fact, KFCB role is to rate broadcast content including films and stage plays and give advisory services to other relevant agencies that have specific authority to regulate the communications sector in Kenya – Communication Authority (CA). In any case, KFCB can’t purport to monitor and penalise media houses, that’s the mandate of C.A. To draw my point home, KFCB is established under the ministry of Sports & Culture while CA is founded under the ministry of Information, Communication & Technology. That tells you which agency of the government between the two has a wider and more pronounced mandate.
In the coming days, you and I will be expected to apply for licenses as long as we intend to use our phone cameras. How ridiculous can it get? Recording a scene via your phone renders one a broadcaster and by virtual of that you need to alert the relevant authorities for approval, according to Mutua. Further, the proposal suggests authorised police to be present during the shooting of a broadcast film and to stop any scene an officer feels “in his or her opinion” is unlawful. More interestingly, this man of no slim ambition has dared to police and regulate political speeches. He will also blacklist political commercials that demean politicians, their parties and manifestos. Come to think of how money buys people in this country and what dangers he is wading this country into, especially with the 2017 elections, fast approaching.
Don’t be surprised if Mutua wakes up tomorrow with suggestions of blocking social media similar to North Korea which intends to control further access to outside world information. Kenya cannot also join countries like China, Iran, Pakistan and Syria that shockingly have banned YouTube broadcast. Journalists in Kenya have a right to work without interference from a poking hand courtesy of KFCB as is captured in the constitution. Moreover, I’m not sure how producers and the contractors are meant to be fined Sh5 million or sent to jail for four years, and this help the film industry.
Our constitution is envied world over for being among the few that has elaborately enshrined the bill of rights in its clauses. Surely, Ezekiel Mutua cannot be the one to stop us from enjoying these rights which include freedom of expression, more disappointingly when it is note his mandate.