I retain a healthy dose of respect for stand-up comedians, knowing they ply a trade that relies heavily on a never-failing sense of humour. I also hold them in esteem, aware that they depend on their appreciation of life in ways we may not see (immediately) to make us laugh, which is not an easy thing to do.
I mean, can you imagine making a living by making people laugh? No wonder Daniel Ndambuki’s aka Churchill, mother still asks him when he plans to get an eight to five job, which means she thinks comedy is not a profession.
It is from this premise that I opened a video clip in my phone, sent to me by several of my contacts, depicting comedian Eric Omondi nude in the company of boys barely out of their teens.
Although all he does is grin sheepishly (wolfishly is more like it!) as the other boys dive into a river (or is it a lake?) for a dip of cold water, the video has sparked outrage like few have recently. Granted, Omondi may still be thinking it is funny to prance around nude, with his hands on his crotch to hide the only thing he found worthy of hiding in that video.
I don’t think it is funny. I have read a social media post from a lawyer, a female one at that, who has said it is time Kenyans had a cultural exchange programme that would enable them appreciate different cultures from their own.
Her argument is that just because some guys do stuff differently from the way you do them does not make them inferior or wrong. That is as far as I agree with her. What Omondi has done is not cultural, it is stupidity and it is illegal.
When his own children reach the age of the boys now being viewed by millions on social media in their nudity, would he encourage them to do the same? Put another way, how many times has Omondi paraded his own child or children for the sole purpose of making money or being funny? Its not funny anymore.
Which is why I agree with the sentiments of the Kenya Film Classification Board boss, my friend Ezekiel Mutua, that the video borders on indecent exposure, at least when it is circulated on social media.
I doubt that Omondi gave the matter a second thought. In all honesty, even in the absence of the other boys (the word “other” is not misplaced here!) his own nudity is neither interesting to see nor is it funny.
I hope and pray that he has since had the presence of mind and fortitude to tender sincere apologies to all those whose sensibilities he has offended, and to the parents of the children who were inappropriately exposed. If he has not done that, it adds to the list of ills already perceived by a larger public as being grossly offensive.
Even in comedy, we must draw a line somewhere and seek to preserve human dignity and the rights of children. I can identify with the thousands of parents and guardians who are seething with anger and wondering what’s funny about an adult being filmed nude and grinning from ear to ear.
Even if we need to laugh in these difficult times, it must be, repeat MUST, without prejudice to our collective sense of decency, which has been so flagrantly violated. Someone needs to crack the whip, with that lad in the same state in which he was filmed. I rest my case. —The writer is Assignments and Special Projects Editor, People Daily