Dr. Ezekiel Mutua is nicknamed Deputy Jesus in Kenyan circles.

By TOM MBOYA in Nairobi

Dr. Ezekiel Mutua and controversy are very familiar bedfellows and the two are never very far from one another.

If not for his strict application of the rules governing broadcasting- some anchored in law others borrowed from morality- the journalist turned trade unionist turned ‘moral police’ and now turned music industry czar has never shied away from tackling issues head-on, earning him admiration and loathing in equal measure.

It was his harsh stand on moral issues that saw Kenyans opposed to his tough approach nickname him ‘Deputy Jesus’. As a born again Christian, Mutua says the name is not apt, but he accepts that it comes with the territory.

It was during his time at the helm of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), a government agency, that Kenyans came to see Mutua at his best- taking on broadcasters who aired audio or visual clips of ads featuring alcohol, condoms and anything he considered unclean before the ‘watershed hours’, the time he reckoned children would be fast asleep.

His term at KFCB ended in a cloud of controversy and Mutua disappeared from the Kenyan national scene for a while before making a big comeback as the CEO of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), the body charged with collecting royalties and passing the same to musicians.

As usual, Mutua announced his arrival in a big way. “I am here to make musicians rich. It is sad that whereas their counterparts in the developed world are living large thanks to their talent, Kenyan musicians are forever in penury and I am going to change that,” he told Zambezi News in an interview.

MSCK  is a non-profit making Collecting Management Organization for Authors, Composers and publishers of musical works.

Its main mandate is to collect royalties in public performance and broadcasting, on behalf of its members and to distribute the same to its members, based on the professional rules of Copyright Collective Management Organizations.

The Society also represents in Kenya the interests of other interests of similar Performing Rights Societies through reciprocal agreements

The organisation says on its website: Music Copyright Society of Kenya aims at building, mobilizing, institutionalizing, and supporting the musical fraternity within Kenya, integrating, sustaining and enhancing their earning of their works.”

It is this earning part that Mutua is hyping.

“We know that Michael Jackson’s estate is still making money. We see long retired musicians in the west still living life in the standards they used to have when performing, which is not happening in Kenya and I am promising our musicians that we must change this,” he says.

Mutual believes there is a big market out there for Kenyan musicians.

The same way Kenyans consume music from all parts of Africa and elsewhere in the world, Kenyan music must also be exported abroad, but in a manner that will benefit the content creators.

“We dance to Lingala although we do not understand the language the music is sang in. We did the Jerusalema challenge on our dance floors and corporate boardrooms although the song was done isiZulu.

” What I am saying that music is universal and we must capitalize on this, what with the world becoming a global village,” he stresses.

Mutua’s return to the public limelight was music to his supporters’ ears even as those who are opposed to him expressed doubts on his record.

When he was the Secertary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists, accusing fingers were pointed at the former journalist with the Nation Media Group after a donation of TV sets intended for a journalism award ceremony disappeared.

Mutua laughs off the claims and says if a crime took place, then he would have long been hauled to court and even served time in jail.

He believes such high profile positions come with their own dose of detractors who will spin all manner of lies to bring someone down.

Mutua was asked to go on compulsory leave by KFCB in 2021 pending investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC). He later quit before resurfacing at MCSK. Some musicians have also voiced concerns with the appointment.

Gospel rapper turned politician Eko Dydda, is one of those who opposed Mutua’s appointment saying the man is too old for the job.

“You can’t appoint a campus student as a prefect in a nursery class. Arts and sports are a young man’s game, it’s time we get fresh leaders with new ideas.

“The future belongs to the youth but we must take matters into our own hands if we want to see change,” Dida was quoted saying immediately Mutua bagged the new position.

“Those questioning the suitability of my appointment should know that I went through a competitive process and emerged top among the candidates interviewed.

“I am actually overqualified for the job if the advert that was placed in the papers is anything to go by,” he said in another interview.

For now Kenyan musicians are tightening the strings of their guitars, airing the drums, testing their vocal chords and possibly updating their bank account details as they wait for Mutua to deliver on his pledge. – Zambezi News

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