Story of Ndungi Githuku

Oct, 14, 2011 - Sarah Nardone

Ndungi Githuku refers himself as an “artivist” for his use of Art for Human Rights Activism.

Ndungi Githuku participated in the 2011 Fair Play anti-corruption music competition.

“When I sing, I sing not to appease the status quo but the masses who are still under bondage of oppressive regimes and dictatorial tendencies. I sing to remind Kenyans and Africans and indeed the downtrodden of the world that change can never, will never be handed to us without raising our voices.”

Ndungi grew up in the small village of Mwimuto, in the outskirts of Nairobi. Growing up, radio was the main medium for information and its first source of inspiration. He believes the music bug bit him as a child listening to his uncles singing along the tunes airs on the radio while sitting with his family around the fire-wood blazed keeping them warm. His first artistic experiences came early in his schooldays when he would occasionally sing during morning assemblies and then at school drama club that gave him the opportunity to attend annual drama festivals, where music was again a big part of the event. He began to develop all his talent at university where he became active in the Theatre Group which under his leadership took home many trophies from national contest of dances and drama.

It was around this same time that he joined the freedom movement in the clamour for change and multi-partyism in Kenya in the 90s.  While listening to their songs and poetry made to express the desires of change in the country, he realized how music and art could be peaceful weapons of change. “The youth in my country are a neglected lot. The majority of them are jobless. This condition has led to apathy among the youth; drug abuse and alcoholism are currently in the rise. However, music has been taking the mentorship role and more and more youth are being influenced by music, especially hip hop. Reggae is also a widely listened genre of music—which plays a big role in passing social messages throughout the youth. Communities in general were initially resistant to young people getting into music, but this is now changing. There is a realization that music is a career just like any other, and with time, this is being widely embraced.”

“I belong to art and art belongs to me.” His passion is art. He embraces anything that helps him to artistically inform and express and believes in creating music and poetry that raise awareness on the need for social justice and change, as opposed to music made for the sake of it alone and without a purpose. “Currently, I explore my music into film and poetry. I feel that my music is relevant as it addresses social ills and the way forward – from my view and that of the masses. When I sing, I sing not to appease the status quo but the masses who are still under bondage of oppressive regimes and dictatorial tendencies. I sing to remind Kenyans and Africans and indeed the downtrodden of the world that change can never, will never be handed to us without raising our voices. I sing to commemorate our past and present selves and to remind ourselves of past victories by fallen heroes and sheroes and also remind us that the far we have come is enough experience to identify all the tools of peace that we can use as a clarion call for change. I believe that with one aim and destiny, we can move forward and build the brilliant future for children and generations to come.” he said.

For him, attending the Fair Play anti – corruption music competition has been a meaningful experience because he met other musicians and social change advocates from around the world. “It was very humbling to hear of the stories that go on in other parts of the world and we look forward for future participation in them. There are many ideas born everyday in our artistic minds and would love to execute them; the lack of resources has occasionally slowed our dreams, but never erased them”.

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