A group of Kenyan musicians scheduled to perform at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival over the weekend declined to present in protest over the government’s failure to pay their dues.
Instead of taking to the stage to perform, the artists took to read a statement instead, citing their reasons for not performing and exonerated the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from any blame.
In the statement, the artists demanded payment for their travel and living expenses for the festival and asked the government to respect their hustle.
According to the Washington Post, “The artists decided to boycott after discussions with representatives of their government, dismaying dozens of audience members, some of whom had traveled from cities across the country specifically to support the Kenyan musicians.”
“This dispute is about us resolving sort of systemic malaise in the government, you know, its systemic rot. It’s happened before and that’s the reason this sort of drastic measure’s been taken.” celebrated singer Wainaina is quoted by the Washington Post.
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, D.C. by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
Each Festival is reported to typically draw more than one million visitors and this year’s edition was focusing on China and Kenya.
Tales of artists being duped by dubious event organizers are not foreign but coming from the government which is supposed to be supporting them is quite a disgrace.