Chop money: Is it real or clout chasing?
Flaunting one’s riches is an ages-old ritual in the show business. However, in this time of vast digital advancement, some people are viewing it as just an out-dated and irrelevant showboating stunt. And as Allan Adalla writes, the debate is just gathering momentum.
In the modern world, a lot of people, especially the youth, desire to become a celebrity in one way or another, owing to the belief that fame attracts big rewards and endorsements.
It is such celebrity perks that are currently sustaining a majority of showbiz stars following the lockdown on events to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The large online following and the posh lifestyle these celebrities lead has also been a fascination for many of their admirers, as some of their fans regard them as role models.
However, some recent comments by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) chief executive officer Ezekiel Mutua through an audio clip, has caused jitters online, as questions are now raised whether the posh lifestyle and the heavy amounts of money we see celebrities chopping around is really their money, marketing finances from brands they are endorsing or just for clout chasing.
In the viral clip, the self-christened moral cop is heard labelling comedian Eric Omondi as “broke” after he donated Sh200,000 to singer Bahati following the cancellation of a deal between the singer and KFCB. He continues to say all the artistes in Kenya are poor.
Eric says that his intention while financing Bahati in front of the cameras was to act intended to prove to Mutua that there’s money in show business, and it is not all about chasing clout.
“I agree that some artistes are struggling due to the challenges that have been brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But for Ezekiel Mutua, he’s trying to rub salt into a wound that is festering, especially when he said that all artistes are poor and talents have nothing to pay.
This means that as a leader, you have no faith with the artistes you should be supporting.
He is holding that office because of us entertainers, and he is paid because of us.
If we decide to remove him from that office as the entertainers, then it won’t take us long. He needs to apologise or resign,” he tells Spice.
Eric, the self-proclaimed President of Comedy in Africa, responded to the claims of being bankrupt by flaunting the money he made on his recent event in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Shortly after, rapper Khaligraph Jones also took to his social media, where he posted a video seemingly talking to Eric on the phone while flaunting some wads of cash.
When Mutua promised to hand singer Willy Paul financial support for his upcoming album, Eric claimed that he would also donate Sh400,000 towards the project.
“I still have Willy Paul’s money with me; he can come for it whenever he wants to and I will give it to him in front of the cameras just like Bahati.
Mulamwah (comedian) and Bahati were betrayed by Mutua, so I would not like Willy to land on the same problem. That is why I have chosen to donate him this money,” adds Eric.
While exclusively speaking to Spice on phone, however, Mutua claimed that his audio utterances were taken out of context.
“People are only concentrating on that part that I said artistes are poor; that was not the context of the conversation.
Someone asked me that we withdrew the support we were to give Bahati and Eric came in to give him, and then I said that was not real money but sarakasi (drama).
Assuming that I said they are poor, yet they are not, why should they bother? That should even make you work harder.
The context of showing off and spreading money on the floor is old-fashioned. Why couldn’t they give the said money to these artistes before?” he quips.
Mutua added that some of the Kenyan artistes are wasting time on petty engagements, while they could use the time and resources to support each other and grow more talent.
“At KFCB, our task is to regulate content and protect children from harmful content since they are the leaders of tomorrow.
But we have tried our best to also identify and nurture talents, which some of these artistes are overlooking and instead focusing on petty issues.
So, our happiness is seeing the Kenyan talent flourishing and through different programmes such as the Sinema Mashinani that supports talents in marginalised areas across the country.
We have also been the main partners with the Kenyan National Drama and Film Festival for three years, pumping funds of more than Sh100 million into the programme,” he says.
He adds that KFCB has promised to support Willy Paul’s new project, but on condition that he would promote ‘clean content’ on the upcoming album.
He says, “Willy Paul approached me and showed a recent video of a song he had done with Alaine.
He mentioned to me that he’d be launching another album, and asked for our support and I promised him that I would attend the launch.
To get sponsorship from KFCB, you have to produce clean content to promote our campaign.”
On June 12 this year, Mutua announced on his Twitter page that he had cancelled a Sh200,000 offer he had made to Bahati after he posted immoral content.
Ezekiel’s indignity was probably about the Fikra Za Bahati music video, where Bahati is pictured holding a cigar in the company of a scantly dressed lady.
Mutua answers the claims by Eric where he says that he would collect signatures from all artistes to sanction his removal from office.
“There are policies on employment in Kenya and there are regulations. I am not from a collective management organisation. This is a contract between me and the government,” he says.
Just recently, Mulamwah was also seen flaunting money that he claimed to have saved to acquire a piece of land.
He says that showing the money on social media was not a boasting act, but to show the world the fruits of his hard work.
“By showing the Sh700,000 on social media, I wanted to inspire my fans and encourage them to work hard on what that they do.
It is through the media where we also face critics, and so I wanted to show all those keyboard warriors that despite the critics and bullying, we work hard and reap luscious fruits,“ he says.
Mulamwah has also been at loggerheads with the KFCB boss a few times, as he says that as an icon, Mutua should not talk negatively about the entertainment industry since it has an impact on society.
“Mutua should have applauded Eric Omondi for filling a stadium in Dar es Salaam instead of only negatively criticising him.
When you call entertainers poor, that will even scare away the endorsements,” he says.
However, the comic faults the move by many artistes who flaunt their money and other materialistic possessions online, terming such moves as competition.
He says: “For Eric, it is not a good move since he is trying to show who the boss really is. It is not good to justify yourself.
These artistes have no power to assist all those other artistes who need help in one way or another out there.”
Controversial singer Ringtone supports the flaunting of money in front of the camera saying that it is a good thing to do in showbiz.
“This is showbiz; artistes need to show their money to attract more money. When someone sees you with money as an artiste and calls you for an event, they won’t quote an amount meant for an up-and-coming artiste.
Just take the recent case of Khaligraph; it attracted support from betting firm Odibets that donated Sh4.5 million towards his project of nurturing talent,” he intimates to Spice.
The Tenda Wema hitmaker concurs with Mutua’s sentiments that most Kenyan artistes have no money and are in dire need of some sort of bail out by the government, including lifting the embargo on events in order for them to find something to put on the table.
“We have over 13,000 artistes registered by the Music Copyright Society of Kenya who don’t perform now in churches and clubs due to Covid-19.
For us who started music earlier and invested well, we are well off at least. Artistes should invest their money wisely since they never know what tomorrow may bring,” he advises.
According to comedian Jaymoh Ule Msee, he sees the allegations by Mutua as a two-sides-of-a-coin type of statement.
He says that despite the fact that opportunities are limited and talents are bumper in Kenya, most artistes end up a wasted lot.
“If we could give opportunities to the large number of talents we have in Kenya’s entertainment sector, then that big gap would be filled.
Also, we have some artistes that can be good on stage, but then very poor in business side of the craft.
Many of them find it hard to invest in other sectors, ending up depending solely on their music.
What if they lose the voice the next day? They’d end up as beggars,” he says.
He adds in conclusion, “The other problem is that many artistes get a lot of money, but they lack financial literacy to manage it.
Then things also worsen when that superstar mentality hits you; you feel like you will never get broke. On the issue of flaunting money, I think artistes have the right to respond.
The response may be different depending on their brands. Everyone has their brand, and what matters is the approach.”