Our generation and that of our parents view wealth very differently.
In pre-colonial times you had to have large herds of cattle, land, a multitude of wives and a sea of children to be considered wealthy. During our parents time things like land and assets like motor vehicles were characteristic of the well to do.
That meant that you would either have to go into business or the recognized professions to amass wealth. There were very few folks that were willing to allow their kids to do things like music.
Because of this narrow view of property, anyone that decided to pursue the arts did so with a cloud hanging over their heads. The Kenyan society is one that prides itself on traditional values that depend on religion. Unlike land or motor vehicles what did a musician really have to show as a creation of their work.
It follows that both our parents generations largely treated the arts as an unworthy pursuit. It was not to be taken seriously. God had from the beginning decreed that man shall live by the sweat of the brow. The wise king also declared that he that does not work should not eat.
The notion that an artistic person only depended on the gift of talent to succeed also continues to entrench this stigma. You will find countless artists that think they can rely solely on their talent to succeed. When artists are shocked that talent isn’t enough they will try anything including drugs to dig deeper into their well of ‘talent’. The mistake here isn’t that we are not talented enough, but we lack the work ethic and patience to bring our dreams to fruition.
I find however that these notions on property and music are false to a great degree. In the promise of the new millennium notions of property are quickly changing. Jesus himself struck at the foot of the idea of property warning us that things have changed forever when he said:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
To my thinking artistic and intellectual property are the new versions of property. Unlike land, gold and material possessions, they don’t suffer decay or other forms of devaluation or destruction that face other forms of property. You can continue making earnings way after you are dead.
So as much as our cultural thinking might have caused us to ignore artistic pursuits, I find that in there lies hidden treasures. This in turn can help us launch into our pursuits headlong because the more we create the more wealth we have.
This is therefore a call to all artists who may be finding it hard to rationalize the creation of content. Music pays but not without hard work. You may have talent in bags, but like a mustard seed someone with less might actually outdo you just by working hard. So treasure your “heavenly” gifts and make it count.