#stoparrestingdjs - Kenyan DJs unite after weekend arrests

After a weekend of what is seen as harassment by Kenyan authorities, DJs secured the release of at least two of their colleagues with the help of a hashtag and a coordinated social media campaign.

On Friday, enforcement officers claiming to be from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) raided several nightspots in the capital Nairobi on the premise of noise pollution, arresting DJs and confiscating musical equipment. Similar raids were carried out on Saturday when DJ Riggz and DJ Tremor were also arrested.

Following their arrest, their colleagues released a homogenous message on various social media platforms, which included a video of one of the arrests under the hashtag #StopArrestingDJs.

“Every weekend, DJs from all over Nairobi are arrested while trying to make a living and put food on their tables the best way they know how,” the message read. “For about an hour they are driven around in the back of a city council pickup like thugs/hooligans to various other pubs arresting other DJs.

“The team arresting them claim to operate under NEMA (a claim which NEMA officials heavily deny) and that they are making arrests for sound pollution in the clubs. However, they leave the club owners and arrest the vulnerable young DJs. The DJs are then blackmailed and extorted for amounts ranging between 30k and 200k [$300 and $2 000], failure to which they will end up sleeping in a cold hard cell for a few days with nothing booked in the occurrence book (OB). The good club owners usually help them get out, but the bad ones switch off their phones. The operation is always led by the same individual who goes by the name, Mbaya.

“We are now appealing to governor @sonko, senator @sakaja and anyone who can, to help resolve this situation by sitting with our representatives to find a way forward. The average age of a DJ is between 22-34 years old, and they have chosen deejaying instead of crime and thuggery! We would like to find a way forward to ensure our youth don’t end up back on the streets.”

A prominent DJ who did not wish to be named confirmed the incidents and told Music In Africa that he went to Nairobi’s City Hall in the early hours of Sunday morning after hearing that some of his colleagues had been taken in.

“When I arrived at City Hall I confronted the arresting officers to show me the readings from their decibel meter that proves my colleagues were guilty of sound pollution,” he said. “They laughed and looked at me puzzled, as if they don’t even know what a decibel meter is.

“When they realised I was asking too many questions they chased me away. They then moved my colleagues to Central Police Station and I followed them there. When we got to the station, they told the police not to let me in so I was stopped at the gate.”

Following the social media outcry, DJ Riggz and DJ Tremor were released on cash bail with all the charges dropped. The incident also caused the reaction of city officials who have promised to put an end to the arrests.

Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja, who is a former rapper and seen as a government ally of artists, said: “Sorry about this. I've taken up this matter. DJs are trying to eke out an honest living. If there's a problem with the establishment, arrest the owner, not the deejay. I'm bringing together the relevant institutions including @NemaKenya to make sure they all #StopArrestingDJs”

This is not the first time DJs have been arrested in Kenya. In March last year, E News documented the arrest of popular DJ Joe Mfalme at a well-known Nairobi club for noise pollution. Around the same time, SDE reported the arrest of DJ Protégé for similar reasons.

But many commentators close to the matter believe that the arrests stem from club owners’ failure to pay ‘protection’ fees. Some say mafia-like racketeering cartels are behind the arrest and use Kenya’s noise-pollution laws as a front to wreak havoc at a number of nightclubs in Nairobi.

#stoparrestingdjs - Kenyan DJs unite after weekend arrests #stoparrestingdjs - Kenyan DJs unite after weekend arrests Reviewed by odewole Olusegun on Monday, February 12, 2018 Rating: 5

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