Guns on trigger-happy revellers making clubbing unsafe
As DJ Evolve continues to recuperate from gunshot wounds sustained recently while at work in a club, more questions continue to linger on how entertainment spots are quickly becoming unsafe houses, writes CHEBET KORIR
‘Am I safe in this club?’ That’s the question many revellers in Kenya have been asking themselves in the last one week.
A week ago, Embakasi East MP Babu Owino was found on the wrong side of the law after he allegedly shot and seriously injured Felix Orinda, a deejay popularly known as DJ Evolve while clubbing at the B-Club in Nairobi’s Kilimani area.
CCTV footage that circulated on social media showed the raving legislator in a high-end entertainment spot in what looks like an argument with the DJ.
He then suddenly pulls out a gun and without hesitation fires at the disk jockey who drops unconscious on the floor.
This incident is among the few cases that have taken place within clubs in the country involving the usage of guns.
In 2017, police in Nairobi arrested flamboyant businessman Chris Obure following an alleged gun drama at B-Club.
The prosecution said the accused had confronted the complaint at the club with a gun and threatened to shoot him. Obure denied the accusations.
An argument over the right to smoke in a prohibited area sparked an altercation at Cedars Restaurant along Lenana Road in Nairobi, two years ago among four MPs and a South Sudanese national.
It was reported there was a scuffle between them as a bottle missed its target and crushed on the wall before three guns were drawn forcing revellers to scamper for safety.
In October 2015, Mombasa businessman Donald Kibe allegedly shot a waitress on her left leg at a lounge club in Nyali. He was later disarmed. In May 2012, Jackson Maina Wangui, owner of Club Click along Baricho Road, Nairobi, was found guilty of shooting Kelvin Oduor Onyango, a patron.
Alhough Maina was a licensed civilian firearm holder, in his defence he told the court he accidentally shot Oduor. The court, however, sentenced him to five years behind bars for manslaughter.
While clubbing is all about having fun and socialising, reckless usage of firearms in the fun joints have been on the rise in the recent times.
The result is, many partygoers now fear for their lives whenever they hit the club for a round of drinks with friends.
And the big question is, can club owners create and guarantee safe nightlife environment in their premises; and how can they make everyone feel included in that safety?
The Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (Perak), Promoters of Entertainment Association of Kenya (Peak), Event Managers Association of Kenya (Emak), artistes and DJs feel there is a dire need for club owners to provide safer workplaces for all entertainers, employees, event organisers and all stakeholders in the entertainment business. They say clubs should be declared gun-free zones.
“In addition to the long working hours that DJs are subjected to, a pay that is often not commensurate to these hours and now gun-wielding revellers, guns in public places of entertainment create yet another occupational hazard,” says the Association of Disk Jockeys East Africa founder Jacqueline Mugo.
Amnesty International Kenya executive director Irungu Houghton terms the incident involving Babu Owino as disrespect for human life.
He says: “Gun violence doesn’t discriminate. When a gun is discharged in a public place, it poses a risk not only to the intended target, but also to everyone there.
When such an incident is perpetrated by an elected Member of Parliament it is a clear contravention of Chapter 6 of the Constitution. It demonstrates disrespect for life and human rights.”
Finding a solution
According to the Kenya Deejays Association chairman Gordon Omondi aka DJ Gordo, the association is working hand-in-hand with Perak on a policy that will not allow revellers to walk into social joints with firearms.
“Firstly, I want Kenyans to understand that we are not only fighting for DJs, but for the safety of everyone who walks in at any entertainment spot.
Deejays are not only at risk, but also the fans who go to enjoy the music,” the Kisumu-based DJ tells Spice, adding that 2019 saw a significant rise in the number of civilian gun holders, a phenomenon that overwhelmed club owners.
Event planners and talent managers are also at a high risk of gun violence in clubs. Brenda Shiko, a talent developer working with a number of high profile celebrities, talks of her fears.
“There are bouncers at any social joint who thoroughly check you before you enter the club, but the financially influential patrons walk in without going through the checking process.
Automatically, those surroundings become unsafe grounds for an event planner,” she says, adding there is no single nightclub in Nairobi that is safe from guns.
Her sentiments are supported by artiste Mohammed Ali aka Masauti, who says, “It all goes down to the club and its set security measures.
When I go to a club as an artiste, the club owner must guarantee my total safety.
Any licensed arm holder should be ushered to a private room to lounge with their guns, away from the general public.”
Speaking with Spice, a bouncer who has worked at a popular club along Lang’ata Road for more than five years, says 2018 and 2019 were his worst years dealing with an increased number of gun-holding revellers.
“I had a lot of hard decisions to make, because I couldn’t throw them (gun holders) out because they tip us well.
With a tip of between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000, one is walks in with their gun(s). For the high-end clients, we are not even allowed to frisk them; wanaingia tu (they automatically gain entry),” he says, asking to remain anonymous for his job security.
Sociologist Dr Benson Agaya says gun holders are ordinarily instructed to use it as a protective not an offensive tool, and should not use power to abuse authority.
“Every gun holder needs to be trained on how to solve disputes. If you hold a high position in society, you must be highly disciplined and decent.
If you are offended, talk it out and if all goes wrong, let your bodyguards deal with it in the right manner,” he says.