How Daniel Owino Misiani Ja Shirati Troubled Presidents Moi, Kenyatta and Kibaki

A Kenyan-based Tanzanian musician is recorded to have managed to give all the former Presidents of Kenya - Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki - a rough time during their tenure at the helm of the country's leadership. 

Daniel Owino Misiani Ja Shirati, a celebrated Benga musician in the East African region, on countless occasions found himself at loggerheads with the Heads of State because of his bold music.

DO Misiani, who particularly sang in Dholuo, cut a niche for himself as a political satirist through his music. He mocked and pointed out evils in the society and severally called on the presidents to give answers to rather controversial issues. delved into the archives to unravelled how the daring one-man guitar troubled Kenya's most powerful men for four decades simply through his art.

During the Kenyatta era, Misiani tread on not-so-popular grounds, castigating the founding father over his development policies which solely benefited those in his backyard (the Agikuyu Community).

In the regime of retired President Moi, the daring musician, who resided in Kisumu, was upfront to point an accusing finger when leaders in Government would mysteriously die.

In 1990, when Foreign Minister, Robert Ouko - who wanted to overthrow Mr Moi - was assassinated, Misiani sang a song highlighting that he was 'foreseeing' a time when leaders would be called upon to explain their actions against the people and that there would be nowhere for them to hide.

A report by Art Matter quoted that Mr Misiani even asked the then reigning Government to blatantly name Ouko's killers because they knew them.

This landed him in great trouble with Moi who extradited him for presumably propagating political animosity in Kenya.

During the 1982 coup, Misiani praised the mastermind, Hezekiah Ochuka, telling Moi: "even if Ochuka did not attempt to topple Moi's government, someone else would".

In 2002, when Kibaki came into power the Tanzanian artiste was not quite impressed with the Rainbow coalition succeeding Moi and he pointed it out in his Bim en Bim song which means a baboon will remain a baboon.

His song was perceived as an anti-government jibe which allegedly suggested that Kibaki was in Moi's Government as Vice President hence could not bring much change.

Despite the many controversies he attracted, it was difficult to arrest Misiani because of the huge masses he commanded.

For him, he noted that: "I just sing about what is happening and if this offends some people, I can do little about it. What is wrong with singing about what's going wrong in our society?"

Though he was hounded into police cells on numerous occasions, he was never jailed or taken to court for prosecution.

Sadly, Misiani died in a tragic road accident near his home in Kisumu on May 17, 2006.

He was mourned by the whole country with Kenyans insisting he ought to be buried in Kenya instead of his homeland Tanzania.

CORD leader Raila Odinga even eulogised him stating: "Misiani's death is a big blow to Luo-land and all progressive voices of this country. Misiani spoke for the voiceless not only in Luo Nyanza, but entire Africa. I have lost an advisor, inspiration and supporter."

In his book Peeling Back the Mask, Miguna Miguna hailed Misiani as "one man army of resistance, satirically and lyrically pointing out the ills of society and the betrayals of the Kenyatta- and later Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki-governments".

Here is DO Misiani:

Here is the song he mocked Kibaki with:


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