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Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta; Music's Unlikely Duo. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired April 20, 2018 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a rare interview with the president of Kenya on Trump, China and a troubling turn for democracy in

his country.

And also an intriguing collaboration from two of the music world's biggest stars. Newcastle, England meets Kingston, Jamaica in Sting and Shaggy's

new album, "44876".

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Kenya once a shining example of democracy in Africa is losing some of that luster. Recent elections have been marred by irregularities and breakouts

of ethnic violence.

Uhuru Kenyatta is the current president. His father Jomo Kenyatta was the first president after Independence and he was known as the father of the


His son is now facing some criticism for his part in the turmoil and for shutting down TV networks when they broadcast a fake swearing-in held by

the opposition figure Raila Odinga.

But, incredibly, these two bitter rivals then surprised the nation when they posed for handshakes, smiled and they pledged to put their differences


President Kenyatta is attending the Commonwealth Summit here in London this week and he came into our studio to talk hope and change for his country.

But I started by getting his take on the controversy over Britain threatening to deport children of the Commonwealth who were invited in

during the 1950s.

President Kenyatta, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Very nice to have you here. And you are here to celebrate the 70th year of the Commonwealth.

KENYATTA: That's right. Kenya has been a long-standing member. I want to know what you make of the controversy while you are here of a very harsh

immigration deportation action that is threatening to deport some of the members of the Commonwealth who came over in the 50s after the war at the

invitation of the British government to rebuild this place.

And some of your fellow Commonwealth countries, particularly Caribbeans are finding some very unfriendly deportation notices.

KENYATTA: I believe that there is need for all of us across the board to recognize that we need one another.

And the most important thing is these people, unlike current immigration, which one would understand if there was a push towards that direction,

actually, as you said, came here at the invitation of the British government to help support and develop this country, in line with our

partnership as part of the Commonwealth.

So, it's a bit depressing, I must be honest. And I appreciate the kind of steps that Theresa May is taking towards calming down that whole situation.

And I hope that they, just as we in Kenya - postcolonial period, we started off very clearly that those who were of British national, who decided that

they wanted to remain in Kenya and be Kenyans, we gave them that option.

AMANPOUR: What do you make of the current Trump administration, particularly the comments that President Trump made about immigration from

Africa, using a profanity for some of the countries, and about his policy of aid and development to Africa?

KENYATTA: Again, I say that some of his comments are unfortunate. And you know the reaction that many of us took and we were very clear that we hope

that those words were not really words that are representative of American society, a society that itself has been developed and grew and built on the

basis of immigration.

We have had - as Kenya, for example - very good longstanding partnership with the United States. We have a lot of Kenyans who have contributed

immensely in very many fields in the United States. And we are looking to see how we can deepen that partnership.

And one of the things that I must admit is quite troubling is how we see today a growing tendency towards isolationism, moving away from

globalization, which has enabled many countries in the West to reach the levels of development that they have and now constraining it when it comes

to the African continent and not understanding that it is through deeper partnerships, deeper engagement that maybe some of the problem migration

that is going on would stop occurring.

AMANPOUR: So, with that in mind, everything you've just said, and knowing that President Trump almost in the first days after his inauguration talked

about a very different kind of American relationship with Africa, a much more transactional relationship. If it's good for us, we'll help. We'll

do business deals. We'll do those kinds of things, but not necessarily the development aid that has been traditional.

[14:05:04] Do you worry that that - I mean, do you feel you're getting enough investment even under this new paradigm from the United States?

KENYATTA: Well, he's talking about encouraging investment. We are keen - we are looking forward to that investment. That investment helps provide

jobs, helps create opportunities, especially for our young people who probably would be the ones who would be more susceptible to migration. So,

that is a quid pro quo. It works both ways.

But at the end of the day, diplomacy is not just about those hard transactional items. It's also about the soft things, about being able to

understand what are the core issues that concern people, what are the core issues that are creating problems.

And we need to also be able to deal with some of those issues. We can't just push them aside and brush them under the carpet.

It's about investment. It's about trade. But it is also about promoting certain ideals that we all share as democracies.

AMANPOUR: Let's talk about the politics in your country. It's been a crazy, turbulent year. A lot of difficulties. An election that was

nullified and then the opposition leader pulled out of the second round and then you were declared the winner eventually. And here you are reelected a

second time.

But it didn't come without a lot of pain on many, many levels. What can you say first and foremost to the parents of the people who were killed in

the election violence, who still to this day, despite your handshake with the opposition leader, Mr. Odinga, feel that they have not had

accountability, that their kids were not criminals in the streets and didn't deserve to die?

KENYATTA: Well, the first thing I'll say is that nobody celebrates death of any kind. And one of the things that we must also be clear about is

that it is very clear that, yes, indeed there were unfortunate incidents and some of those unfortunate incidences were actually actively instigated

by certain individuals for political end.

And if I was to assess the situation that happened, as unfortunate as those who lost their lives did lose their lives, we are nowhere near, and Kenya

has come a long way, from the problems that we experienced in 2010 when it was basically almost all-out war.

We need just to continue to mature to a level where we must accept that competitive politics does not enmity. Just opposing ideas.

AMANPOUR: Before I dig down more into it, I just want to know for the parents' sake, do you as president of Kenya offer an apology to the parents

for the innocent death?

KENYATTA: I abhor all loss of life and to all those who were hurt on both sides of the political divide. As far as I'm concerned, we have no

responsibility for those, given the actions that were taken.

But as a parent myself, I feel for them, I sympathize with them and I give them my assurance that I will do everything that is in my power to ensure

that this kind of thing never happens again and make available all channels to ensure that anybody who lost life or property is availed a channel to

get justice. That, I put on the table.

AMANPOUR: So, now let's talk about the election which was incredibly contested. You're saying all the right things about competitive politics

and to be able to actually contest elections without violence, without censorship, without taking the media and television stations off the air.

Presumably, you agree with that as well.

KENYATTA: We've got to be very clear. The only time during that entire period that the media was shutdown, and it wasn't the media, Kenya is a

country that has over 70 stations operating, including CNN - over 70 - only three media houses were shutdown and this is after a detailed discussion

prior to when the shutdown occurred with all those media houses, with all of us agreeing with our legal people that what they wanted to air was

tantamount to treason.

Them agreeing, them proceeding to air and we said, on that basis, those who do air that particular program will be shutdown in accordance with our

laws. And we proceeded to do exactly that for that one single occasion.

AMANPOUR: In that case, are you saying that this will not happen again because the free press is the basis of a democracy?

KENYATTA: As we have always said, free press - and there is no country with a freer press, and I think CNN can stand to verify that.

AMANPOUR: Because people did say that those three channels that were shut down were because they were broadcasting opposition rallies and protests.

KENYATTA: They were shut down on a single day when Raila Odinga went and purported to swear himself as president of the Republic of Kenya. That was

the only day. And you can do your homework and check, the only day that they were shutdown.

[14:10:14] And we said that those who are going to do that, this is going to be the action. And so, they were all aware.

AMANPOUR: So, fast forward, suddenly you and Raila Odinga are shaking hands and speaking like long-lost brothers. I mean, people were actually

very, very surprised by that.

And let me just quote for you some of the things that you said that this marks a new beginning for the country, that we may differ politically, but

you should and we should unite as Kenyans for the sake of the country.

Raila Odinga himself said is that the reality is that we need to save our children from ourselves. That's pretty dramatic.

KENYATTA: It's more or less in line with what I've been telling you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: How did that happen from this pitched battles, removing television channels, all of that.

KENYATTA: Purely from the point of view, and I have always maintained that, that I am always ready, open for dialogue, for exchange on the basis

of what is in the best interest of the people of Kenya.

And as far as I was concerned, the competitive politics were over. There is a government. We acknowledge that there is an opposition. And we said,

and I said it very clearly, that I have no problem reaching out to find bipartisan solutions to the issues that affect us, to the problems that

Kenyans have.

We don't have the sole monopoly of all the right ideas and answers. We need to open ourselves up to constructive criticism as well as constructive

engagement. And that was the offer.

AMANPOUR: One of the major issues, and it's a holdover from sort of colonial Victorian, is the issue of sexual preference in many African


In Kenya, to be gay, the LGBT community is illegal. They just want to have equal rights, the same privacy and equality as all other Kenyans do. Is

that something that you aspire to for your country?

KENYATTA: I want to be very clear, Christiane, I will not engage in a subject that is of no - it is not of any major importance to the people and

the Republic of Kenya.

This is not an issue, as you would want to put it, of human rights. This is an issue of society, of our own base as a culture, as a people

regardless of which community you come from.

This is not acceptable. This is not agreeable. This is not about Uhuru Kenyatta saying yes or no. This is an issue that the people of Kenya

themselves, who have bestowed upon themselves a constitution, right, after several years, have clearly stated that this is not a subject that they are

willing to engage in at this time.

And in years to come, possibly long after I'm president, who knows? Maybe our society will have reached a stage where those are issues that people

are willing freely and open to discuss. I have to be honest with you.

And that is the position that we have always maintained. Those are the laws that we have and those are laws that are 100 percent supported by 99

percent of the Kenyan people regardless of where they come from.

AMANPOUR: So, I think you're going to get yourself into trouble because what you've categorically just stated is that this is not an issue for us,

for the Kenyan people and you don't think that the idea of their privacy, their equality, their rights is important, but it's a global issue right


KENYATTA: It's important to them where they are.

AMANPOUR: Why isn't important to you as the president of the country?

KENYATTA: I'm saying that it's not important to me as the leader of 49 million Kenyans. And after, if you want to ask me my personal opinion -

AMANPOUR: What is your personal opinion?

KENYATTA: After I finish my process, I can talk about my personal opinion. But as the leader of the people of the Republic of Kenya, I represent that

which our people are desirous to be and I have no choice, but that is my position.

AMANPOUR: Would you publicly say that people who are LGBT, gay members of the Kenyan population should not be discriminated against, should not be

violated, should not be abused?

KENYATTA: No Kenyan - no Kenyan should be abused, should be mistreated in any particular - every Kenyan is protected by law, every single Kenyan, but

they also must recognize that their freedoms are also - must be taken into the entire context of the society that they live in because this is not a

question of governments accepting or not accepting. This is a question society, right?

[14:15:29] AMANPOUR: Currently, that's a legal process.

KENYATTA: Yes. And that legal process is based on the society that you live in. And that's where laws are made. So, I think that's all I have to

say about that particular subject.

AMANPOUR: On that note, President Kenyatta, thank you very much for joining us.

KENYATTA: As always, thank you.

AMANPOUR: The president being alarmingly frank on this controversial issue in Africa.

And turning now from Kenya to Jamaica, the inspiration for a surprising new musical collaboration from two of the world's most popular musicians.

Gordon Sumner aka Sting and Orville Richard Burrell known around the globe as Shaggy. They have teamed up for a reggae influenced album of original

songs. It is called "44876" and you'll hear about why later in the interview. But, first, take a listen to their first single, don't make me



AMANPOUR: So, the album comes out today and they join me to talk about their possibly surprising collaboration and the bond between their diverse,

but intimately-linked cultures.

Sting, Shaggy, welcome to the program. It's not obvious this pairing. What brought you together? Or is it?

STING, MUSICIAN: Well, it's a surprise to everyone including us, but it was a happy accident. And we decided to make a record together just out of

our friendship and our rapport.

We realize, although we are very from different cultures and have very different voices, somehow our voices blend together in a way that neither

of us expected. And much of the world is ready for this.

AMANPOUR: Why not?

STING: I hope so.

SHAGGY, MUSICIAN: Well, it is a surprise. We started from one song. He walked in singing a song that I asked him to do. And once I heard our

voices really connected, I was startled a bit.

And once we started doing some other records, it was evident at that point we had a body of work and that it was a rapport that we built, that we

really like each other's company and we really - because the studio sessions were filled with so much laughter. After a while, we're like

let's shock talk the world. Let's put this out together. Let's swim our stream (ph).

AMANPOUR: But, again, you're dancehall reggae. You are. But you'd also have some reggae sort of influence.

STING: Common ground, which is reggae because I was influenced greatly by reggae as a younger musician. So, that was something we had a common

language there.

So, most of the songs began in the basement with reggae and then we built this pop album above that.


STING: But it's kind of materialized around us by accident. And it's a conversation between two people from different cultures, talking about

issues that concern us, but really we're just having fun.

AMANPOUR: The song that we played a little excerpt of in the intro is more the reggae beat, but we want to play "Dreaming in the USA", which is more

of the pop, more of the sort of dancy kind of - let's hear a little bit of that and talk about it because it also has a message.


AMANPOUR: So, it really has a great beat, but it's also for the purposes of our conversation here, got a real message about America. And I know

that you served in Desert Storm, the first Gulf War. You're an immigrant to the United States. You are a little bit of an immigrant, although I

don't know whether you call yourself one. You live there now.

STING: Yes. I was attracted to America for good reason. We all love America for the right reasons, for the movies, for music, for art,

literature, culture. And I also check that citation on the side of the Empire State Building - not Empire State.

AMANPOUR: Statue of Liberty.

STING: Statue of Liberty very seriously. And so, I think a lot of those values that we were attracted to are under threat, this very febrile

political atmosphere. So, I wanted to write a love letter to America, the America that we were attracted to. Both Shaggy and I share that.

[14:20:15] AMANPOUR: And for you because your mother came over to work in the United States and brought you over.

SHAGGY: As a kid, there was a dream of (INAUDIBLE). I remember my mom wanting to come to America to make a better life. And when you look at

that and see that that's under threat, when this song came about, I was like, this is so. It speaks to both of us.

And maybe an ex-military person and someone who served, I think I've earned the right to let my voice be heard. We are just using this as a platform,

I mean, to represent not just every immigrant, but for me on a personal level, every Jamaican and, I mean, every Caribbean person that has come


And this is on a global scale. I know the song is "Dreaming of the USA" and we're talking about all the stuff that is happening with immigrants and

all of that out of Jamaica and the dreamers.

STING: But there are DREAMers here. The Brexit situation is also another situation. What's happened in Syria is another situation.

AMANPOUR: What do you want people to get out of this album because it is different? It's had actually a lot of very interesting reviews, very good

reviews. They call it "vibey and catchy." "Unexpectedly likable album," some people say.

Why do you think they say unexpectedly?

SHAGGY: This is unexpectedly.

STING: I like unexpectedly anyway. And I'll take likeable as well.

SHAGGY: I guess the unexpected is the element of surprise. And I think that's the first thing that gets everybody's - their surprise of the


And then, when they listen to the music, they're like, wow, but it's not so surprising because the early Police stuff were heavily reggae influenced

and I'm a reggae artist. And when you think about - but then we built on top of that and create this hybrid.

AMANPOUR: Have you heard The Police growing up?

SHAGGY: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: Was that an influence?

SHAGGY: Absolutely. It was a big influence. The Police, they started as a pop band and morphed into somewhat of a reggae band. And they were like

the gateway for mainstream music, to get reggae on the mainstream.

And so, because of that, they were very popular in Jamaica. I remember as a kid hearing "Roxanne" screaming through my radio. Of course, they became

massive superstars afterwards and "Every Breath You Take" and all these records became just incredibly popular. Undeniable.

AMANPOUR: Do you think I dare ask Sting to sing for me a little Roxanne bar.

STING: Really? At this time of day?

AMANPOUR: Yes, if you want to.

STING: Roxanne. That's the lower key.

AMANPOUR: OK. And let's play a little bit then. I'm going to play a little bit of the actual record and we can talk about it then.


SHAGGY: I could only do it in (INAUDIBLE). I can't do a full voice.

AMANPOUR: No, he wasn't that far off.

SHAGGY: No, he was not far off, but the thing with him that still amazes me is how he still sings it on stage, strong at full voice every night.

Blows me away.

AMANPOUR: No, it is beautiful. Listen, I mean, obviously, no interview would be an interview without reading your some of the barbs because people

are surprised.

So, this is the NME. "There's something weirdly enjoyable about this cheery abomination of an album."

Camaraderie is palpable - this is the same ones who said it's weirdly likable. "These are staggeringly beautiful un-self-conscious men insulated

by success. Their hearts are in the right place even if their better judgment was sunning itself somewhere in Kingston."

STING: I'll take all of that. It's totally fine. I'm not going to argue with any of that.

SHAGGY: I like it. I like that people are just - they're surprised and we've caught them off-guard and it's against the grain and we're

disruptive. You know what I mean?

But they cannot deny good music. The music itself is timeless. It's the way it's made is in a timeless way.

AMANPOUR: And little to the point, you're going to be, among others, performing for the Queen. It's her 92nd birthday at the Royal Albert Hall.

Have you done that before? You've obviously performed in front of her.

STING: I've never performed in front of the queen before.


STING: No. I'm not sure we are here real musical taste.

SHAGGY: I think the queen probably (INAUDIBLE) reggae. I've been saying that.

STING: Let's find out.

SHAGGY: We are honored. And I'm the first of my country to actually perform in front of the queen like that. Definitely, in the end, it also

is a big deal for me and I'm happy for the opportunity. And we're just going go there and really have some fun with it.

[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: "44876" is the name of the album. Why?

STING: 44 is country code in Great Britain.

SHAGGY: And 876 is for Jamaica. And we were going to name it joint venture, but we decided -

AMANPOUR: No, this is better.

SHAGGY: But it's out today. Everybody, go get it. For your uncle, your aunt, your sister, your pets.

AMANPOUR: Everyone. It's a good listen. It really is. It's great. Thank you very much. Shaggy, Sting, thanks for being here.

SHAGGY: Thank you, Christiane.

STING: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: A really fun and great sounding collaboration. And that is it for our program tonight. And remember, you can always listen to our

podcast and see us online at And, of course, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.