A group of singers drawn from different choirs who entertained Kenyans during the August 2022 General Election at Bomas of Kenya is now crying out for not being paid for the services they offered.
The singers have claimed that over five months after they thrilled Kenyans as the country anxiously waited for the Presidential results, they are yet to receive their money as they had been promised.
The group was coordinated by veteran artist and composer, Mwalimu Thomas Wasonga, who was contracted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to provide entertainment to Kenyans as they anticipated the presidential outcome.
The choir spent close to a week at Bomas, singing patriotic songs that eased tensions among Kenyans, with many expressing delight at their presence.
However, some of the members of.the choir have come out to say that they are yet to receive the money they worked for, even as schools open on Monday.
Victor Onyango, a lead singer in one of the choirs at Bomas, says that Mwalimu Wasonga promised them that their pay would come six weeks after the announcement of the presidential results.
Little did he know six weeks would translate to almost six months.
“The choir was one of the service providers at Bomas of Kenya. We were brought in to provide services just like the rest who were contracted to make the process smooth. So we were supposed to be paid like the rest,” Onyango told Citizen Digital.
“Our able leader Mwalimu Wasonga said the money would come in six weeks. It is now six months and we are yet to see the money. We really don’t want to blame Mwalimu for this delay, but someone should act. We have families who saw us every day on TV working yet we went home with nothing.”
Onyango said 80% pf the choir members entirely depend on singing as their source of income. The delayed payment has therefore adversely affected their way of life and their families.
“I can assure you that most people in that choir you saw there don’t do anything apart from singing. It is their livelihood. Withholding their pay means thay are greatly affected. They have families, children are resuming school,” Onyango lamented.
On the tension that engulfed Bomas of Kenya ahead amid a delayed announcement of the presidential results, Onyango says the choir was urged to sing more to ease the tension, even as the situation threatened to get out of control when William Ruto was declared winner of the race.
His sentiments were echoed by Chrisphine Ochieng, a member of the Bomas of Kenya choir.
Ochieng says he has been an active singer for six years now, and the Bomas experience was an highlight of his career.
“It was a great experience to get to sing to Kenyans during a very crucial moment of our country’s history. Those who planned it understand well what our country needs,” Ochieng said.
But just like Onyango, he is yet to receive his payment for the services he provided, and he feels frustrated.
“It is taking long and it is frustrating. I deepend on singing for a living, my family saw me on tv singing but I went home empty-handed and they were asking questions,” Ochieng says.
He adds that he is not sure if they will ever get their pay as it is has taken longer than anticipated.
Citizen Digital contacted Mwalimu Wasonga over the delayed payment, as he was the coordinator of the choir.
In his defense, Mwalimu Wasonga said the delay is as result of regime change which came with a directive to cut back on government spending.
He said due to this, payments have been delayed as the new government finds a way of making operations smooth.
“Those complaining should understand that regime change comes with a lot of changes. Things no longer work the same way. The new government is organising itself and when it is ready the money will be available, hopefully,” Mwalimu Wasonga said.
He went on to say that the remumeration of the choir was taken over by Bomas of Kenya, who are taking longer than expected the release the money.
Mwalimu further said that IEBC has promised to work on the payments beginning January 15, and he will push for the choir to get its dues.
“Let choir members remain calm as I will be following up with the matter when I return to Nairobi from upcountry next week,” Mwalimu Wasonga added.
At Bomas, five different choirs from Kenya and one from Tanzania came together to entertain the country.
The five were drawn from Safari Voices, NHIF, Ninga Melodies, Wazalendo Choir and Mungano Choir.
However, Mwalimu Wasonga advised IEBC to send the Tanzanian choir home after their performance due to the sensitive surrounding elections in Kenya.
The choir members hope the authorities will come through and affect their pay.
Citizen Digital reached out to the IEBC Communications Department to find out when the bands might get paid but they referred us to the Bomas of Kenya.
The Bomas of Kenya CEO Peter Gitaa informed Citizen Digital that they have been unable to pay the vendors because they themselves have not been paid by the IEBC who they were acting on behalf of.