Dear Mr. President piece is a scathing indictment of the poor leadership in Kenya and the world at large.
Released on April 3, 2020, Dear Mr. President is a piece every voter should listen to before casting their ballot. Willie Oeba, in this work delivered predominantly in Swahili, comes out sharp criticizing the Kenyan government and the current leadership.
The poet, who hails from Nakuru, a town in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, is defiant as he is brutal. Not wishing to coat his piece with imagery, irony or satire, he hits the nails on the head with the passion one wields Thor’s hammer if at all I would be allowed those power, but hey…. The cleverly used puns are a joy to the ear as one navigates through this piece. The final nail being, “…tunaishi kwa nchi yenye pia your deputy ako na ma vice.” (We live in a country where your deputy has also vices)
Oeba is not the only poet who has used spoken word platform to condemn leadership. He follows the likes of King Kaka-one of Kenya’s pop stars whose roots are anchored in poetry in this very form-in pointing out what has been seen as a vice in the Kenyan society.
As it were, there is a general consensus that the country is being driven to the murk by the political elite. As pointed out in Oeba’s poem, the political elites are not the leading role models although they are more famous than celebrities or in whatever way you’d categories the stars.
The poem points to the social, political and economic stagnation in the East African country. The poet observes that the leadership would rather appoint old men into senior offices than the youth making the public service look like a hospice. He further looks at the current Covid19 pandemic pointing out that it would have been easier to suspend flights into Kenya than suspending schools in order to fight the pandemic.
There is so much deep thought that went into the writing and performance of this piece. Oeba has observed the sycophancy in government, rampant corruption and the ineptitude of leaders before coming out with the masterpiece.
Comically, he laments that those in power are more afraid of Miguna Miguna- a Kenyan politician and civil rights activist who is currently exiled in Canada than they are afraid of Coronavirus. Oeba is not only a critic to government, he is also a prolific contributor to the arts in Kenya. Studying at Moi University, he would team up with fellow poets to start Upgrade Poetry in 2014. From there he has since moved on to bigger things like starting the Sanaa Art Hub – a collective of artists in Nakuru among other things.
In performance, Oeba has traversed various platforms performing his deeply engaging poetry. From Poetry Slam Africa to being crowned East Africa’s Poetry King, the artist has proven to be inimitable in his craft.