The last few days have seen #MuteRKelly trend on various social media circles. As a result, I found myself tagged in a few tweets expressing disappointment in the fact that the radio station I work for was still playing R. Kelly’s music. I did not respond because I was in no position to speak for the radio station. However, I can now share my personal stand.
In 1993, child sexual abuse allegations were levelled against one of the greatest artistes to walk the earth, Michael Jackson. In fact, a four-hour documentary titled ‘Leaving Neverland’ is to premier at the 2019 Sundance Festival.
In 2009, Chris brown was arrested for battering then girlfriend Rihanna, he was sentenced to community service and domestic violence counselling. I use these two as an example of great people who have in the past committed grievous crimes but whose works we continue to enjoy.
I have for years loved and danced to R. Kelly’s music and even recall dedicating some of his songs to my past boyfriends and crushes. There are many people that have done hurtful things whose movies we still watch, inventions we still use and whose works we consume in one way or the other. When an incident like this occurs, the first thing I ask myself is whether I have the ability to punish the perpetrator and make them pay for their sins. Many times, I can’t but I keep hoping that someone somewhere is able to while I do the most I can within my means.
With that in mind, my article last Friday was about the R. Kelly in our midst and not the one in America. During the week, Chantal on Twitter talked of her cousin who was tied down and raped by her boss here in Kigali. She called the police who reported immediately and she received medical care. Evidence of rape was collected on the same day but two months later, nothing has been done about the case and she has not been called to court. By the time of writing this, Chantal’s tweet had attracted the attention of the Minister for Justice Johnston Busingye and the Prosecutor General who promised to pursue the investigation.
I remember the story of a young girl who had been continuously abused by an older cousin from the time she was nine years old. He threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone about it, so for many years, she remained silent and troubled. Add on fathers that molest their children, uncles that prey on their nieces and nephews, teachers that rape their students and intimidate them to silence…the list is endless! Some of these people are our neighbours and colleagues and these are the people I so want to punish.
Therefore, will me not playing R. Kelly’s music in my house or on the radio I work for in any way punish a perpetrator in Kigali, Kampala or Nairobi? Will R. Kelly feel the pinch of me not playing his music? To everyone disgusted by a radio station in Kigali that is still playing Kelly’s music, that is one’s personal opinion that I respect but what I would love even more is a solution to the same crimes being perpetuated in our schools, homes, offices and country today.
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