Baringo Senator Gideon Moi dances during campaigns. Photo: The Star

Songs, catchwords that endear electorate and enrich Kenyan language

Every five years, campaigns for the presidency creates new vocabulary and give some old songs new meaning. Sometimes, new songs are composed just to appeal to the electorate to vote for their favourite candidate.

In the lead up to the August 8, 2017 General Election, the major political parties, Jubilee and the Nasa coalition came up with catchy phrases and songs.

 Hellena Ken’s Mambo yabadilika became National Super Alliance (Nasa)’s ‘national anthem’ while Jubilee’s was Uhuru na Ruto Tano Tena.  These songs serenaded the landscape for many months before going silent 48 hours before the elections.


Vindu vichenjanga also became synonymous with the Nasa campaign whose message, things change, is similar to Mambo yabadilika.

In 2002 when Kenya was on the verge of change from the rule by independence party KANU to the Opposition, the song Unbwogable was the hit of the day. Indeed the song is associated with the change that came to be after that year’s General Election.


But the most interesting part of the campaign is when some politicians found it difficult to pronounce some slogans. In their effort to get it right, the politicians brought the much needed comic relief. 

Take for instance Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama, Nasa’s rallying call of ‘vijana Tibbim’ and ‘Tialala’ became a challenge to him. At a public rally in Kisii, he left many in stitches when he “Bichana Tiggim!” This became a joke for some time.

And there were politicians who added new words and sayings to our Kenyan lingo.

In Machakos County, Ms Wavinya Ndeti fought a battle of her life for her name to appear in the ballot as Wiper Democratic Party’s governorship candidate.

Uhuru Ruto Tano Tena song.

Uhuru Ruto Tano Tena song.

And when the court gave her a clean bill of health to do so, she was caught on camera saying, “Yaliyondwele sipite’’ instead of Yaliyopita si ndwele (don’t dwell on the past but focus on the future). This became a joke for many days thereafter.

Jubilee’s Tuko Pamoja (We are together) slogan has since become a greeting style among some Kenyans.

Ruto’s speeches were often not over before he threw the words Safari hii or raundi hii (this time round) in wooing voters to support Jubilee to the last man. Soon after, other politicians picked the same expression.

The use of metaphor, rhyme and rhetoric as well as repetition is not new to politicians.

According to a research paper titled The Impact of Research Strategies In Political Debate (US); A Linguistic Discourse Analysis of the First Bush and Kerry Presidential Debate 2004, the art of rhetoric is an old science and that classical Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato regarded it as an important skill.



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