Since the year of our lord 2010 the local heavy music scene has lost some key players to the skeletal spectre of suicide. Yes I know this is a topic that has been avoided for some time and I believe it’s high time we address it and face this grim phantom.
Suicide is not an easy action to take and if you asked any individual who has survived it they will tell you it takes balls of steel and an unshakeable resolve. Most parents of the precious people we have lost, the likes of Lucard Shi Cartmanoss will always lay it on the irresponsibility and detachment of the late ones and not on the reality of the thing: understanding. To commit suicide one comes to hate the world and everything in it that is caused by being misunderstood by the people one interacts with. Yes there are a myriad of different reasons like economic recession, mental breakdown, heartbreaks etc. But the most prevalent feeling that breeds suicidal thoughts are feelings of being misunderstood and labels, negative labels that one cannot comprehend or be at home with. Then again, we truly need someone to talk to, someone to understand us with no illusion, generated judgements or bigotry.
The scene provided exactly that. A family quite different from the families that we leave back home when we show up for moshpits, frenzied gigs and intense studio sessions. Family that does not judge, just appreciates supports and accepts. A family brought together by the mutual relationship we all have to rock and roll. The community fosters a sense of brother hood, a sense of belonging apart from the chaotically depressing void of being a “normal person” living a “normal life”. For real, the lives we lead and what we listen to cannot be comprehended by a normal person. Imagine playing death metal on blast in the public service vehicles , the matatus and the nyangas. On second thought it would be a very good idea , for marketing reasons and all. But the mass of our society is filled with conservative sheep that cannot bear the thought of their norms being shattered to a thousand pieces and thrown into the dump, that is the whole folly.
“with great power…”
The scene hasn’t really realized what they have become. This culture we have slowly fostered, its true nature has escaped our sight. What we see is but a mechanical construct that allows us to make music, do shows and sell merch, and get drunk while at it. But our greatest commission lies in that which we haven’t affected to see ie. that bands and the scene in general has taken on the awesome power of rock and roll. That power has fleshed out the scene to a great degree so much so that it is no longer just an amorphous thing but a living breathing entity. And with that power comes great responsibility. For Shi, and I want to believe, for many metal heads, this stuff that we do as a scene is all we live for. Normal everyday lives are bleak but the scene gives us something that energizes us. On the last days of Lucard’s life no one knew what was going on. and that is a real shame because his true family, this sub-culture failed him when he needed them the most. Maybe a fleeting moment of routine personal touch like random call just to find out how he was doing would have changed the way things went. Now this is not to pretend that we know to any degree of surety that we could have done something to change the course of things. Nay. This is just a voice saying that this alternative lifestyle that the rock culture offered means a lot to people, maybe more than we will ever know. The result is that we need to go back to when we cared about one another because the world won’t. we need to change the way we go about things.
For the Kenyan scene to survive and grow into generations upon generations it has to affect and influence the youth. Yes, those rowdy kids just from high school, or in high school or first year of campus. These are the new age, the new market and the new scene and if these bearers of the mantle of the future get on board the heavy music bandwagon, then voila! We have a steady stream of supply in various departments ranging from the gig turnouts, bands, merch designers, producers, roadies, sound technicians, marketing managers, promoters, you name it while I light a blunt! But beyond that aspect, this scene can offer young people everywhere something the world and their immediate relations can’t offer them, understanding and release. And when this alternative culture succeeds in making a difference in people’s lives, then maybe we can avoid the tragedy of suicides that have been like a blight upon us.
Thankfully though we have identified ourselves by now. We have grown up so to speak. We have woken up to the fact that this scene was not a fuckin phase, it is here to stay. So wherever you are, whatever you listen to, be it melodic death metal, punk rock, grind-core, indie rock, black metal, metal-core, alternative, goth, you are loved and are needed.
by Martin Kanja