D-Pax – Haki Yangu (My Rights)

February 25, 2015


More great work from our community in Nairobi coming out of last year’s #ARTivism Lab.

The group

D-Pax stands for the People of Dagoretti, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya. The group is an open collective of young artists from the Dagoretti Panch Art School.

Youth came together to nurture their talents, speak out about their challenges and the ills they see in society, the political and economic systems as well as continuous foreign domination. They have explored various ways of expressing themselves engaging in dance, spoken word or music. Their dream is to establish a center where the art school could meet and practice, and ultimately to engage more youth in the project. The group believes art could be a healing outlet for many of the disillusioned youth that is faced with so many obstacles.

Kervo Kiym is part of the D-Pax group and he wrote the song. The other two D-Pax singers in Haki Yangu are Chiro and Kevin.

The song

The song Haki Yangu (Kiswahili- ‘my rights’) speaks of the disillusion of youth and Kenyans in general about political and economic elites that continue to enrich themselves in collaboration with imperialist forces. These leaders may have the same skin colour as the people their rule, but their allegiance is not with them.

Serving only their own and neo-colonial interests, elites manifest cycles of poverty and insecurity. The development agenda sees the construction of infrastructure for business while diminishing space for people to live and demolishing their houses. The government gives tax exemption to foreign companies while taxing every shilling a poor person makes. People struggle every day and work hard, yet they cannot afford the basics: hospitals, water, electricity and food.

Haki Yangu calls out to know the difference in which rights apply and to fight it: “I am not making noise, I am fighting neo-colinialism” – the chorus ends.

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Trump: Join us in connecting the dots

The election of Donald Trump has left millions, maybe even billions of us in shock. Although we may be looking with bewilderment at the US today, we should remember that he is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a symptom of a sickness that is raging all around the world. People are hurting, disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at a neoliberal economic system that is destroying lives and the planet with increasing ferocity. And in their desperation they are willing to consider extreme measures to make themselves heard.

Demagogues thrive amid fear and insecurity, which is why they paint the world in such dark terms. It’s a strategy that has put right-wing populist leaders in power in an Axis of Egos: from Brazil to Turkey, the Philippines to Russia, authoritarian strongmen like Trump are on the rise. Meanwhile, many centrist liberals, like the Democratic Party in the US, have been so intent on rejecting left-wing populist solutions, and so sure of their ability to beat anyone running on a white supremacy platform with its misogyny and homophobia, that they opened the door for Mr. Trump to walk straight through. Their preference is always to maintain the status quo that has served them so well.

As dangerous as the election of Trump is for the world, we can also see in this moment the truth that we simply cannot rely on the electoral political system to save us, because it is designed to prevent the fundamental change we need. Its own survival is at stake and it will marshal all its champions and resources to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. But when we work, or continue working for change from the ground up; when we build or keep on building new ways of living and being with each other where we live; when we construct or keep constructing the future we know is possible with our own hands, rather than hoping distant leaders will build it for us, we find our true power. Finally, when we combine that with the unbending hope that has powered change through the ages, we know our power has meaning.

A 400-year-old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. Change on this scale is not going to be smooth or easy. We should not be surprised, then, that moments like this — where the establishment is dealt a body blow — become more and more common. We can despair when that blow comes in the form of right-wing extremists, or we can step-up. We are the ones we are looking for, who can and must grasp the opportunities in these crises that are undoubtedly there.

So it’s time to come together, taking time to remember the earth. Remember all the successful struggles for justice that came before us, and imagine all those to come. Remember that social movements are growing all over the world and realising the common struggle. Remember life. Then, organise. Find each other and help midwife the inevitable transition that brings forth from the ashes of neoliberal capitalism a system that works for the good of all life on Mother Earth. This is not just activism; this is our responsibility as human beings alive as this all unfolds.

This is why we are here.