Ezekiel Mutua: The man who polices Kenyan pop music

11 September 2019

Regulation & Policy

Ezekeil Mutua

Kenya's "moral policeman" Ezekiel Mutua is at the centre of a new storm after banning two popular songs, but the ex-journalist relishes his role, writes the BBC's Ashley Lime from Nairobi.

When I met Mr Mutua the first things I noticed were his pencil-thin moustache and friendly smile.

The chief executive of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) warmly welcomed me into his office, but his charm belies his reputation as a stern "moral policeman" who censors films, songs, and television adverts which feature sexualised content and same-sex relationships.

A song with references to oral sex, adverts for a "sex party" and a film featuring a lesbian couple have all felt the force of Mr Mutua's action. But the former journalist, who is a devout Christian, objects to being called a censor. "Censorship connotes some dictatorial and colonial tendencies," Mr Mutua says.

He is more comfortable with the moniker "moral policeman", though it took him a while to embrace it.

In general, Kenya has a traditional and socially conservative culture, but this has been challenged in recent years by some in the younger generation. The explosion in the use of social media has fuelled more open discussions about sex and relationships, and the arts have reflected this.

Mr Mutua is at the frontline of this culture clash. "At first I was really offended when [critics] referred to me as moral policeman, but with time I realised that not only does this country need me, but it needs more people to act as moral champions," he said. Read the full article on BBC News here.