Musician Arrested After Criticising Kisii Governor Ongwae in Viral Song [VIDEO]

Kisii-based rapper Smallz Lethal (centre) in his viral song I'm Offended, released in April 2020

Kisii-based rapper Smallz Lethal (centre) in his viral song I’m Offended, released in April 2020.

A Kenyan rapper spent the night in police cells after he was arrested on Monday, April 27, for criticising Kisii Governor James Ongwae in a viral song.

On Monday, April 27, blogger Dennis Itumbi was among the first people to lament on the nature of rapper Jim Nyamwaka Nyakundi (Smallz Lethal).

Smallz Lethal’s song dubbed I’m Offended expressed his frustrations with Kisii County, accusing the leadership of engaging in corruption and stalling development projects in the county.

File image of Kisii Governor James Ongwae
File image of Kisii Governor James Ongwae.

“Earlier today, DCI officials arrested a Kisii based rapper. The offence was dubbed Criminal Defamation on Kisii Governor. Thank you for introducing the artist, but we were supposed to be paying artists and not arresting them,” Itumbi proclaimed.

Several local media outlets alleged that Lethal was arrested at his apartment in Kisii by both plain-clothes and uniformed police and was taken for interrogation at Kisii Police Station.

A screenshot, reportedly of the conversation between the artist and a close friend indicated that he was also being charged with defamation of character.

In the song, Lethal pokes holes at Ongwae’s administration, citing poor roads and embezzlement of money set apart for uplifting the youth.

Ongwae pia we umetuangushanga. Tusianzie mbali. Cheki barabara, aibu kubwa kwa watu wetu wa hapa. Na ile soko umekula mpaka mikeka. Yani wewe tu kuwa governor ni kua tu kejeli. (Ongwae, you have always let us down. Look at the poor state of our roads. This is a total shame to Kisii residents. You being a governor is a big joke),” Lethal sings.

On Tuesday morning, April 28, reports surfaced that Lethal was released.

“Kisii-based rapper Smallz was released. I witnessed how youths still don’t want to learn. The content in his song isn’t defamatory,” freelance journalist Ambuga Makori tweeted.

The art of criticising politicians through songs has picked up over the past years, with rapper Kennedy Ombima (King Kaka) leading the line with his December 2019 song Wajinga Nyinyi. The song sparked mixed reaction among his fan base with Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru threatening to sue King Kaka.

On Sunday, April 5, fast-rising spoken word artist Willie Oeba addressed President Uhuru Kenyatta in a hard-hitting six-minute piece title ‘Dear Mr President’.

In the video, Oeba called out the president and his administration from the perspective of the youth, laying bare unfulfilled promises and government failures including corruption and youth unemployment.

The artists join a long list of musicians such as Eric Wainaina and Julius Owino (Juliani) who have been vocal on the key issue in the country.

File image of Kisii-based rapper Smallz Lethal
File image of Kisii-based rapper Smallz Lethal.

Video: YouTube/Smallz Lethal 

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