Emma's Duka Community Currency Movement

Click for recording.. (not exactly what was recorded - but close enough)


This song is called Emma's Duka, and it's about Emma, and the

Duka where you could shop for all kinds of stuff, like peanuts, but Emma's Duka is not the name of the duka, that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Emma's Duka.

| You can trade with anything you want at Emma's Duka (E - A - E -B7) | You can trade with anything you want at Emma's Duka (E - A - E -B7) | Walk right in, it's around the back (E - E7) | Just a half a mile from the railroad track (E - A) | You can trade with anything you want at Emma's Duka (E - A - E -B7)

Now it started a few years back, when I went with a friend to visit Emma. And while we were talking to Emma she had a customer come up, his name was Alfred and he didn't have a shilling on him. Instead of turning him away she wrote his name down on a little paper and the price of the peanuts and told him he could pay her later by repairing her shoes.

That seemed like a great idea and we figured we could just print up a bunch of those IOUs as vouchers for the whole community so they could still trade their goods and services when they didn't have Kenyan shillings.

and that's what we did and proceeded to give out ten of these paper vouchers worth about 400 Kenyan Shillings of goods and services to everyone in the village - to spend and accept back up with their own goods and services just like Emma did.

And pretty soon everyone was trading with these little voucher like they was currency

and we called it a community currency and it was working just fine to increase the local trade.

That is, until one day, Alfred was walking to Emma's Duka to buy some peanuts with his community currency in his pocket and just as he crossed the railroad track, 2 police officers jumped out of the bushes.

They like to hide there you see.

And they told Alfred, "That was an unlawful railroad crossing -- the proper railroad crossing being one whole mile down that way." And they told Alfred "if you don't give us some chai (they were very hungry) we're taken you to jail"

And Alfred looked in his pockets and didn't have one Shilling, but fishing around there he pulled out one of Emma's Duka vouchers and told the officers they could go get some chai with that in the village at Emma's Duka.


Well, their eyes got real big and said "we can't take bribes unless they're in Kenyan Shillings!"

Legal tender that is.

and they proceeded to take Alfred to the police station. And when they told the chief of Police what happened his eyes got real big too and he said "that there sounds like a case of gosh darn terrorism!"

And before you knew it -- on the front page of the Daily Nation news paper was a headline showing Emma's Duka Community Currency as part of af Secessionist plot and in league with the notorious Al Shaba terrorist organization!

And 15 officers from the terrorist police squad in full riot gear with grenades and automatic rifles, knocked down the door of poor old Emma's Duka and took her to jail along with her compatriots Paul, Rose, and Caroline who happened to be in the vicinity holding Emma's Community Currency.

Then the police called me on the phone and said "Son, we'd like you to come in for questioning".

And so I gathered up all my papers and spreadsheets and presentations on the topic, left my 6 month old daughter with her mama and went over to the police station.

And they sat me down in front of the chief of police and an officer of the central bank

Officer Obie, that is

and asked me to explain my involvement in Emma's Duka Community Currency.

And I proceed to open my laptop and give a powerpoint about where similar things had been done before in other countries where people wanted to trade with each other but didn't have national currency. And the officer stopped me at some point and said -- "well what gave you the right to help print this currency for Emma's Duka?!"

And so I had to inform him that there was an age old story about foreigners assisting Kenyans in developing currency and it went like this:

"A long time ago an old man from the British East India Company walked into a village market day, and he was wearing some shiny shoes and a top hat. And everyone stopped to look at him, because they had never seen such shiny shoes, and one woman and her husband lost control of a cart of chickens and had to run around gathering them up.

That old man chuckled and told them to meet him at the big tree in the middle of the village.

And because he had two armed guards with him, folks thought they better just give him a listen.

And he sat there on a rock by the tree and took out a piece of leather and started to cut it into small rounds. And then he took out a stamp with the symbol of the royal crown on it and stamped each one.

Then he gave ten of these rounds to everyone there at the market and told them you can use these instead of chickens and other stuff to trade with each other.

And the villagers were shaking their heads because they already used shells for money, but they thanked the man anyway to be polite.

Then the man said -- well I'm actually going to need those back at the end of the month, and in addition to the ten I gave you I'm going to need interest and want just one more than that.

And just as everyone was nodding and walking away, one man in the back stood up and said, "Where would we all get 11th round from if you only gave us 10 and we can't make our own?"

Then the man chuckled and said, "well if you can't pay it back you'll have to come work for me." And that's what happened, the an loaned out more and more money, and no matter what a few people couldn't pay back and he got more and more people to work for him,

and eventually that old man, he setup what was called the East African Protectorate

That was supposed to protect people, you see

and in order to protect people, they started what they call a hut tax, so every Kenyan had to pay the British to live in their own houses -

Well this worked pretty well to get everyone busy working for the British to protect things ....

That is until ... the queen told all the old men the gig was up and to hightail it outta there and when they left, Kenyans just kept up the same system and called it Kenyan Shillings.

Now this was just to point out that trading peanuts for shoe repair and utilizing Emma's Duka vouchers as a medium of exchange -- came from a long line of historical and contemporary community currencies and that Emma's peanuts as backing for a currency, was a lot more civilized than various imperial methods of forcing a currency onto people.

But as I explained various theories of monetary issuance, Officer Obie from the central bank just wasn't having it his eyes just got get bigger and bigger as he got angrier and angrier,

and he stood up and grabbed my laptop where my power-point was and said, "I am taking this here laptop as evidence!"

"Evidence of what?" I asked and he said "Evidence of of of ... nefarious planning illegal terrorist activities"

And Obie proceeded to take my fingerprints and my belt and one of my shoes. I asked him why he needed my belt and shoes and said "well here in jail you aren't allowed to hang yourself or run away."

So Officer Obie locked me in along with Emma, Alfred, Paul, Rose and Caroline and a bunch of other folks who happened to have crossed the railroad in the wrong location.

And we all got to be talking about our nefarious activities and all of a sudden, I had the urge to relieve myself and asked where the toilet was and they all pointed down the hall.

I looked in there and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the ground covered in months of human waste.

And seeing as how I only had the one shoe, I wasn't about to go in there. So I went back to my fellow convicts and proceeded to barter for one of their shoes. All I had was a box of matches and some buttons and thank goodness that was enough, and one generous convict let me borrow their shoe. Now with two shoes, I went in and relieved myself and we all slept the night under a cloud of mosquitoes wondering what was going to happen.


When the guards awoke us in the morning we were taken to a yard and Officer Obie asked if we understood yet what we had done wrong

and I had to admit that we had not given that we had been barter trading for shoes in order to take a dump -- and he told me he wouldn't have any of that and promptly put us in the back of a pickup truck and took us to the high court.

Once we got there we were put in another prison cell, and one guard after another, five of them in all told us that if we gave them something good they would make sure we didn't end up in the fish hole -- which is what they called the federal prison.

But we didn't have much among us, and so we just waited to see the judge. And after nearly a day of waiting we got to see the honorable judge - who was looking through my powerpoint and Emma's Duka Community Currency paper vouchers.

She asked us how we pleaded to the charges of terrorism and gorgery laid down by the Daily Nation Newspaper and Officer Obie

and we all pleaded not-guilty seeing as how we ain't never done no forgery or treason and just wanted to trade peanuts for shoe repair.

She wasn't so sure about that and for the next few months so we had to keep coming to court to see if we would end up in Shimo la Tewa.

The fish hole that is

After an international petition signed across the globe saying that folks ought to be able to trade peanuts for shoe repair, this all got the government highly agitated

and the director of public prosecution (Hon. Keriako Tobiko) took the case over and after reviewing all the evidence said there was no law being broken by trading peanuts for shoe repair, even if it was facilitated using a community currency

and the lot of us, Emma, Alfred, Paul, Rose, Caroline and myself were all allowed to go free but they wouldn't give us any of the community currency back for some reason they didn't tell us.


Now do you remember Emma? This is a Story about Emma.

She packed up her broken duka and moved to near Lake Victoria and started another community currency there and still lets people pay however they want for her peanuts.

And finally, Officer Obie called me and gave me my laptop back and then he looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send your fingerprints off to Nairobi."

And friends, somewhere in Nairobi enshrined in some little folder, is a

Study in black and white of my fingerprints along with Emma's Duka's original Community Currency.

And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you happen to be in a situation where the your country has banned your home grown crypto currencies and you've got a police officer is tellin you what you can and can't use to buy and sell your goods and services,

There's only one thing you can do and that's walk up to that police officer that is harassing you wherever you are, just walk up and explain that "we ain't got your kinda money and you can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka." And walk away.

You know, if One person, just one person does it they may think she's really just crazy and

They won't put her in jail.

And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,

They may think they're both crazy and they won't take either of them.

And if three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking up

Singin a bar of Emma's Duka and walking away. They may think it's an

Organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,

I said Fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Emma's Duka and

Walking out. Friends, they may think it's a movement.

And that's what it is, the Emma's Duka Community Currency Movement,

And all you got to do, to join, is sing it the next time it comes around on the Guitar.

With feeling.

Folks, if you want to change the economic system you gotta sing loud.

So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and...

Sing it when it does. Here it comes...

|   You can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka |   You can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka |   Walk right in, it's around the back |   Just a half a mile from the railroad track |   You can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka |

Folks, That was horrible.

I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it

For another twenty five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.

So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part

Harmony and feeling.

We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing....

All right now....

|   You can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka |   Excepting Emma |   You can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka |   Walk right in, it's around the back |   Just a half a mile from the railroad track |   You can trade with anything you want, at Emma's Duka |   Da da da da da da da daaaa |   At Emma's ... Dukaaaa