Amara Denis Turay aka Kao Denero is among the artists that have declared their supports for Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s newly formed political party, the National Grand Coalition (NGC).
Incidences of musicians paying allegiance to political parties can be traced as far back as the 2007 general elections, when top artists,the likes of Innocent, Chema B and others expressed support for the then opposition All People’s Congress (APC).
A similar situation was witnessed in the 2012 general elections when several other artists showed their solidarity for the APC. But this was not the case for the nation’s rap maestro – Kao Denero, who recently declared his support, among other top artists, for the newly formed political party, the NGC, led by the former UNIDO boss. Kao was believed to have maintained a neutral position all along when it came to politics, hence why his move sparked a public debate. People
questioned why the rapper is taking a center stage in supporting a newly formed party, as opposed to going for the traditional political parties. Others asked why he is even meddling in politics this time.
In December last year, Kao Denero returned home from the U.S. to stage his usual annual musical event across the country. That was a spicy Christmas season for the entertainment sector. But for the Black Leo CEO, it turned out to be a bad experience. All two of his initially proposed musical events – the first at the beach and the second at the Siaka Steven Stadium – cancelled by the authorities.
At one point, the rapper was arrested and detained by the police on the allegation of obstructing traffic due to a crowd he pulled in one of his visits to the east end of the city of Freetown.
Kao’s frustration with the government began flaring up at that point. The ‘Hakuna Matata’ fame artist took his frustrations to Facebook,accusing the authorities of injustice. He claimed that foreign artists were accorded privileges whereas he, as a Sierra Leonean, was deprived of his rights to enjoy such privileges in his own country.
Earlier this year, Kao was spotted at a dinner with the flagbearer of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Julius Maada Bio, before he met with the Youth Affairs Minister – Bai Mamoud Bangura. Photos of those meetings were widely circulated on social media amidst speculation of his political intention. Those actions and the widespread public interest it generated also influenced a story on Salonejamboree with the headline: Wwhat’s Kao Denero up to?’
In February, in the run-up to his March 4th launch of his latest album (OBEY AND COMPLAIN LATER) at the Siaka Stevens stadium, SaloneJamboree caught up with Kao and sought his reaction to the numerous concerns raised by the public. He back then that the meetings were not politically motivated, noting that he had no intention of going into politics. The rapper even joked that his only political party was Black Leo. ‘I’m with the poor’, he said.
The U-turn by the rapper came as tention heightens ahead of the much anticipated 2018 general elections. The King of Freetown, as Kao is fondly referred to by a section of his fans, was among about half a dozen top local artists who openly declared their supports for the NGC. In a Facebook post, followed by the release of his hit single tract – ‘Fresh Face’, Kao released the bombshell by featuring a speech delivered by the NGC leader, Yumkella. This track song is considered as the campaign song for the new party.
Later, following the NGC convention in Bo, where its flagbearer and other executive members were elected, Kao Denero performed for the party’s supporters at the jam-packed Siaka Stevens Stadium on Sunday 12th November, 2017. That’s the first time ever he used the stage for political campaigns.
Some of the artists who have declared support for the NGC include Menace D General, Steady Bongo, Terror D, Daddy Rhymes, YOK 7.
To get a clear view of why he decided to support the NGC, SaloneJamboree again reached out to Kao. His response suggested a move influenced by desperation and revenge on the governing APC.”After all these years of being marginalized as an artist in my country, many people would want to believe that I’m happy with my career. But I think I don’t have the empowerment and platform to be able to compete with other African artists because of certain reasons.We don’t have a fair playing ground in the country. I always have hiccups whenever I want to stage an event,” he said.
He added: “To even obtain a single pass (police clearance), I would have to pay over Le10m. And those shows would end up been cancelled and my fans teargassed by the police. Things that would not happen to other artists keep happening to me.”
The artist went on: “I started reasoning why all these things are happening to me. I have never affiliated with any political party, though there were rumours of me dealing with the SLPP. But I had remained an independent artist.”
On whether Dr. Yumkella’s NGC is the right choice, Kao remains pretty certain, at least according to his response to us. “Definitely, from the background research I did, he is the only candidate that has something tangible to point at. These are the people we need. People
that have done some developmental projects before attaining power.
That was the reason I was behind the Late Super (Moseray Fadika), may his gentle soul RIP. I like people with proven results. Dr. Yumkella is well connected with world leaders, and above all, he is self-sufficient and ready to transform this nation.”
Kao Denero recognized the road and other small developments in the country but noted that more should have been in the past ten years. He said that the country deserved a better leadership. “This is not about personal gain for me. I’m just looking at the bigger picture,” he stressed.
In explaining his new hit single titled – FRESH FACE, a song in which he advocates for change, Kao said: “The fresh face is a metaphor. I’m not talking about his [Yumkella’s] presence in political circle, but [the fact that] his ideas are fresh. We are tired with the Alhassan and Alusine, we need the Gbezzay. We have tried these two parties without any progress. It’s about time we give chance to another party with fresh ideas.”
Several followers of the music industry are raising concern over musicians’ involvement in politics. A local blog recently published an article in this regard, with the headline: ‘Is the NGC now a record label?’
Since his political move, Kao Denero has apparently reconciled himself with the fact that he can no longer see eye-to-eye with some of his fans. And, according to him, if that means anything it is that he has nothing to lose.
“My career is already f**cked up. If I was not strong, Kao Denero and his career should’ve been dead in the past ten years. They have banned my shows, they have teargassed and arrested my fans, a female police officer has arrested and detained me for no just course. What else to fear. People have used government funds to bring Nigerian artists here, paying the over $60, 000 plus unlimited privileges, but cannot give us $5,000.”
“I will use my music this time for a positive change. And I’m not alone in this. My colleagues are part of this great movement”, he concluded.
By Ibrahim Sorious Samura