Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rejoicing Kenyan Spirit

Heed my advice and if wish to save yourselves laughing until you have to cry. And NO! Not talking about David Foster's Love Theme from "St. Elmo's Fire" which a friend managed to get me hooked to way back in 1989 as an exchange programme student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

I mean today, steer off hotel kinds of “meetings” where Jua Cali and Nameless are expected as high table panellists addressing attendees. Slighty over ayear ago I attended one such function where the two were speakers. They can be so humerous. Oh Boy! they cracked me up in so much laughter until my ribs hurt.That said, creating music is serious business requiring a lot of hard work thus now switching to the serious part.

It was a function well-attended by over 80 local artistes with the objective of addressing bottlenecks in the way of local music creators preventing them from getting maximum return on their investment, my role being to assist by contributing own New Media expertise to the deliberations. Committed to promoting local content online and everywhere and protecting its Intellectual Property to benefit the creators for a society that appreciates and confidently expresses itself.

The artistes expressed various challenges faced with participants floating solutions. Amongst stated of key challenges included poor publicity on the media which suggestion that they consider forming company (or co-operative) then applying for an own Local Content Television channel under the digital broadcasting framework. What would viewers be treated to on such a channel if it existed?

Ushering the New Year reflecting on the budding local music industry celebrating with just but a few of their videos available online.

Nameless released Coming Home last July – an excellent high quality video whose uniquely composed “cool” lyrics speak to the joy in celebrating heroic return home. If only Nameless had a deal with KQ to play the video-song on all flights back to Nairobi, or as a give-away to returning passengers?

Inspiring the youth to “chill” choosing knowledge for great future is Sauti Sol's "Soma Kijana". Juliani release Exponential Potential advising them “hard work gets the best out of life” and Octopizzo's released Vowels last month - all quite popular among the youth.

Wyre brand of music transcends across indigenous, upper class, to international pop culture reflected on his videos Wyre & JB Maina on Mwanake, Kyraz ft. Wyre on No More and Wyre ft. Ce' Cile (Jamaican) on She Say Dat

Without forgetting Calif Records' Jua Cali and Mejja flavour speaking to hustling in the slums on Bongo la Biashara where sings “ wakitokea hautaniona...” [if the police show up I'll have disappeared] or on Landlord where Mejja laments tenants harassment and rights violations from landords. Their lyrics also inspire, for example, Bro, Niko Poa (Barua)[My brother, I am fine] and on love Kendi ft. Mejja Mwanisema

It was 'bad' enough to listen to Jua Cali and Nameless that frankly don't think I could have survived if Mejja had been added forming a trio of panellists.

On 18 April received an email that read, “Greetings..It is my great pleasure to share with you the announcement we received that my song entitled "Simama" is the Winner of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) 2010 - World Music Category!” - George Mutinda Wambua – Mutinda from Nairobi put Kenyan flag on world-standing music winners map.

“Mutinda - Timeless, soul-searching melodies and contagious rhythms.. Mutinda from Kenya, is a strong singer/songwriter, vocalist and acoustic guitarist playing World Music and afro-folk, which contains rare sounds of Kenyan Music meeting the global contemporary influences of today. Mutinda is a self-taught musician who began pursuing his career in his childhood by playing a home-made guitar,” his bio reads.

Agreed, his music captures and its hard to get over listening to the songs. I may not understand the words on either Vala Vandu or Osa Vinya, but I totally enjoy listening to the songs appreciative of my friend Victor's translation of “Osa Vinya” as “Take Heart.” Visit for more details.

Interested in Reggae? Listen to Abbi Mudunia Album's “Spread More Love”, “Rainbow”, “Cry No More”, “Butterfly” and “Afrika”- feat. Ashimba (from Tanzania) at his page on
These are but just samples of the much pleasing local talent Kenya now boasts of. But where is the rest of the music and videos, local films and animations and what can be done to bring it all to the fore?

Policy, Law and Regulations:

The National ICT Policy set the foundation for building digital local content. Kenya Information and Communications Act (Cap 411A) tasked the Communications Commission of Kenya to develop Kenya Information and Communications (Broadcasting) Regulations, 2009. where “Local content” means the total of all television or radio programmes which fulfil any five of the following conditions:

(a) the production is made in either Kenya’s native languages or official languages of Kenya;
(b) production was done in Kenya;
(c) the content deals with issues that are unique and relevant to Kenyan audiences;
(d) at least twenty per centum of the share of the production company are owned by Kenyans;
(e) a majority of the artistes are Kenyans;
(f) the location of shooting, in case of audiovisual programmes or performance was in Kenya;
(g) the author thereof must be a Kenyan national and in case of co-authorship or multi-authorship fifty per centum or more of the authors must be Kenyan;
(h) the production is made under Kenyan creative and technical control, but does not include news and commentaries;

Clearly a huge market demand for local content exists, an enabling official policy environment, law and regulations are in place. Fair to concluding by revising challenge posed to local entertainment content creators. Consider collectively applying for a digital broadcasting channel. You may opt to operate the channel as commercial or along community broadcasting guidelines. Exploit this option to solve your creative productions publicity challenges over which you asked for help to mitigate.

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