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7 years ago, Kenyan artist, Juliani, released a song that would stir the consciousness of an entire nation. The song, Utawala, so cleverly written, inspired in all of us a call to action, an aching to do better, to be better and more importantly; to hold our leaders accountable.

Whenever this song aired on the radio or TV, I remember being so convicted, and singing it word for word like my life depended on it. Why? Because as an early adult just getting into my early twenties, the dark reality of my country’s workings had begun to show itself. The reality that in my country, being awarded or getting ahead on one’s merit only counted for 10%. The other 90% was vested in who you knew or how much money you had; contrary to what I had been fed in all institutions of learning i.e. hard work = success.

The most beautiful thing for me about this song though was that it wasn’t sung for a particular group or class or ethnicity of people. It was very clear in only identifying two separate groups of people i.e. the leaders and the led. Granted, leaders are a reflection of a society, but that is a topic too deep to delve into here.

7 years later this song is still relevant. Tragic isn’t it? Tragic that we still have rife corruption at its peak (I’d love to say it can’t get any worse than this but our leaders keep pulling fast ones on us so I won’t be the one to tempt fate). Selfish interests continue to take center stage in our political arena. So it is this very song that has stood the test of time, sadly, that is the focus of this article.

The government, and more specifically, the country’s ruling political party, has been championing a document titled the ‘Building Bridges Initiative’, more popularly referred to as BBI, for what they term as an initiative to mend bridges of discord highlighted by the political events of 2018. The document is said to be inspired by the consensus reached by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Hon. Raila Odinga with the infamous handshake done to bring back the country from the brink of political dishevel after the 2017 Presidential Elections.

In its bid to gunner support for this document, the party whether by itself or through an agent, rolled out an aggressive marketing campaign.

The campaign was elevated to social media via the use of social platforms popular among Kenyans, including twitter – where we go to chew maize when we’re not chilling at Jevanjee.

Whether by poor judgment, or just blatant defiance, the Party’s marketing team decided to use the song earlier mentioned i.e. Utawala by Juliani, in one of its marketing campaign videos – without the consent of the owner of the song, Sir Juliani.

Upon learning of this infringing action by the party, Juliani instructed his lawyer to issue a cease and desist letter to Jubilee with the following instructions:

  1. To cease and desist from using the song to advance the Party’s agenda.
  2. To pull down the infringing promotional video from all its social media platforms with immediate effect; and,
  3. To admit liability for infringement of his intellectual property rights within 72 hours.

As at now, it remains unclear as to whether Juliani’s demands were complied with and at what stage this matter is at.

So then, what should happen when your song, a copyrightable work, is used by somebody else without your consent being sought?

In brief, your song is what we call ‘intellectual property’; as are most works of creative expression. Your song is therefore protected by a branch of intellectual property law known as ‘copyright law’. Copyright law grants you exclusive rights that cannot be taken away from you without your consent.

Think of your song like a piece of land or a car. Nobody can come and start constructing a building on your land if at all the title is in your name, neither can anyone come into your car, push you out of the driver’s seat, and drive off – well unless you’re being carjacked and your assailer has a weapon, in which case you should not only get out, you should flee.

Hence if someone abuses your copyright, whether willingly or unwillingly, then you, as the owner of those rights, have every right to take action against the perpetrator.


  1. By issuing a cease and desist letter or a demand letter; or
  2. By pursuing civil and criminal action against the perpetrator should they not comply with No.1 above.
  3. By asking for money in exchange for their use of the song. Somewhere along the lines of. . .”if you pay me this, I’ll let you continue to use my work”.

But this is your call to make at the end of the day. You’re the owner of the work therefore you get to choose which of these best reflects your interests as an artist.

Like in the case of Juliani. If you look at his demands carefully, you will notice that nowhere in the list does he ask for money. Safe to say that to him, this was never about the money. This was about his integrity and persona as an artist and not wanting to be seen to endorse any political messages. He was staying true to his song and to his inspiration behind it which I think is pretty cool.

Because hey, if you don’t stand for something then you’ll fall for anything right?


If you enjoyed this article and found it informative and would like to learn more on this topic, YOU’RE IN LUCK.

We’re hosting a Google Meet tomorrow with two of our showcase artists to not only talk about copyright infringement but music licensing as well.

If you’re a professional within the music industry or looking to get into it, or know someone who would be interested in these topics, please share the details of the talk below with them.


Time: 11-12.30P.M

Moderator: ME!

Panel: Olivia Ambani, Frank Nabiswa, Agnel Nadida and Angela Moturi

Cost: Kshs 300

Book your spot by sending the above cash to Paybill 600100 and Account Number 0100007499088 and thereafter send the confirmation message to or 0791379570

We’ll send you a code right after.

Limited slots available so please book as early as possible.


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