Monday, October 25, 2010

Infamous "Busted" on Kenyan Radio

On a Thursday night I was watching one of those Lifetime / CW / AnyUSNetwork syndicated shows that never survive more than two seasons. Only reason I was watching it was I needed some background noise while downloading The Amazing Race (greatest show ever!). Anyway, the show's premise was being able to revisit your past and change one aspect of it that changes somebody's life or your perception on life. Long story short, the original story was about a regular 20something in college going out on the town with her openly lesbian friend and realizing there was a connection between them. When the opportunity came, she backed out "not feeling" it. The flashback was about her "feeling it" and finally experimenting and coming to the realization that it was not her thing and the subsequent changes in her life based on that action. There was light kissing and groping involved in the flashback which I had to guess occurred because KTN, the local cable news network censored each and every movement and action of lesbian love (incredibly mild, sorry guys) and it ended up being hinted and not acted out. Seriously, they cut out pretty much half the story in an effort to prevent such scenes from hitting the Kenyan screen. I hmmphed but recognized the audience they were trying to "protect" from such images and as is with all things quizzical and comical Kenyan, I forgot about it.

The following morning, I was on my matatu (small minibus deathtrap commuter) ride to work and they were broadcasting a popular talk morning radio show with Maina Kageni & Mwalimu King'ani. They really are quite awesome in that the former is the voice of the typical urban Nariobian and the latter is the quintessential broke local Kenyan playing over each others perceptions of a modern Kenya. They typically pick a theme of discussion and work the audience opinions with call-ins, e-mails or FB updates on what the average Kenyan regardless of background, perceives.

So the topic this Friday was based on the "Busted" show of the previous afternoon. It runs every afternoon where an unsuspecting caller gets a call from a travel agent or corporate congratulating a suspected unfaithful with a trip or reward for two and asking them who they would like to bring along. Most times the idiots pick their clandestine (clandes!) as their designated invites but the savvy traitors always pick their spouses / girlfriends/ boyfriends. The show, Busted was started by a bitter chain smoking Kenyan lass named Ciku who busted her ex live on air with an unexpected phone call, and the premise of the show grew from there.

This particular "Busted" was by a Kenyan man who suspected his wife was cheating on him with her employer. So the show employed Ciku (?) or some woman with a convincing rural accent to call the woman up as the employer's wife and question the relationship, all the while the husband of the cheater was listening in. Let's call the cheater Maureen. So Mrs. A asks her politely whether the stories that have been making the rounds about Maureen and Mr. A are true. Naturally the girl denies the actions saying absolutely not and she would not cross that boundary. Mrs. A in a very matronly and nurturing voice says that she is a God-fearing woman and does not wish for confrontation and harbors no anger but feels that she needs to let Maureen know that she is HIV positive and her husband has in fact been tested with the AIDS virus. Maureen gives away the truth by repeatedly voicing "Oh God! Oh no! Oh God! No! No! Oh God!". Mrs. A asks her during this outburst whether she has been using condoms. Maureen blurts out, "NO! Oh God! No! No!" At this point Mrs. A says she's with her personal physician (Maureen's husband) and that he has something to say. The "doctor" gets on the phone, a very pissed off husband who starts yelling down the phone, "What is this?! Seriously? How could you? What were you thinking?" Maureen who has probably been outlining her life and how she got infected with HIV and WTF she's going to tell her husband, if she's going to tell her husband. She soon realizes that it is her husband on the line and quickly hungs up.

Maina (the radio DJ) now queries callers on their opinions. At eight in the morning, in a matatu, one caller says, "Shit! That woman is fucked! She should just go kill herself because she's in so much shit!". Another caller, "So what? Should we feel any different just because it was a woman who got busted?" Caller number 1,223 says that Justice served is justified.

Granted I didn't listen to the rest of the morning show for the next two hours - I have a job! But the overwhelming response was toward the actions of Maureen. I did not hear in that short period of time that you DON'T JOKE ABOUT AIDS or HIV! By the way, this thing has started to grow (quite appropriately) out of proportion because you don't make light of an epidemic. Of all the sexually transmitted afflictions, why did they pick AIDS / HIV! Pick syphilis or gonorrhea! Not a affliction that requires a total life adjustment and of all places in Africa where the disease should be taken more seriously than it currently is.

Did Ciku and her crew think ahead about the reactions of this girl Maureen? I haven't heard any followup on the girl but did she harm herself after this charade? She was busted on live radio with her husband listening in about her infidelity with a married man who may or may not be infected with HIV! And they were so blase about it!

Never liked that show, never liked the personalities behind it but I was more pissed off because just last night, I watched this supposedly controversial show that had to be heavily censored on the lip locking and suggestive lesbianism effect on impressionable Kenyans (at 11 p.m.) to wake up and hear cursing and abuse and mocking of an untreatable virus at 8 a.m.

Still quite livid about it because it trivializes the epidemic and the stigma attached to it as well as drive home so many uniformed perceptions about the HIV virus and AIDS. Isn't the job of radio to inform and not to perform?

Emotion: Angry and Disappointed.

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