WHERE IS KENYA-What a strange Question..?

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 When i keyed in the words Kenya on Google analytics i expected anything except what i got .The things people do not know about our  country are many and very simple. I found it buffling that people (meaning the rest of the world)do not know we are in Eastern Africa,that  we border the Indian Ocean and are smack in the middle of Somalia and Tanzania.That our country measures 582,636 sq.km and our capital city is Nairobi.What exactly then do peole know about us apart form the fact that we have some of the best long distance athletes in the world?

The results i got from Google analytics shows the interest in Kenya over the past 12 months ,the  search words used over this period  were  ; Kenya map,where is Nairobi, Kenya,map of Kenya,capital of Kenya and where is Kenya.You would think that with our trail blazing athletes,Kenya Tourism board and the Brand Kenya Team and the  Foreign Affairs Ministry all doing their thing there is a whole lot that is known about Kenya.That  we may as well sit back, pop some bottles of champagne and wait for investors and tourists to come flocking in.But it isn’t that way and when i pulled this out ,the global monthly search yield for the ket word Kenya alone was 6,120,000,the local monthly search stood at 1.120,000 and this was today at 3 pm ,the analytics are here.

Which makes me wonder whether we may be putting out the wrong information or not enough information out there or maybe the bodies charged with marketing Kenya or making Kenya as a brand known have wrongly prioritized their need to know areas.Such that what we are giving out to potential investors/tourists is very different from what they want to know.

With the recent resignation of the Kenya Tourism Board chairman Mr Michael Joseph the former CEO of the mobile company Safaricom,maybe the next head of this body needs to be someone as hands -on and with as good a record as MJ.The reason for his resignation which can be read here  were as a result of him being appointed the World Bank money transfer fellow .Seeing the success he had made of the mobile company by the time he left,it is hoped the next chairman’s appointment will be on merit,someone who can bridge the disconnect that seems to characterize the various bodies in the tourism industry.

The  various bodies which are charged with the responsibility of making our country known beyond our borders need to know  that sometimes they seem to be all pulling in different directions.In my opinion there needs to be a well orchestrated symphony among all the bodies involved from the Kenya Investment Authority to the newly formed Kenya Association of Women in Tourism  and all players in between from tour operators to Ambassadors on how we can map out a strategy that works .We need to plan it in such a way that  people can locate us on a  world map with their eyes closed and that Nairobi is a capital children in Shanghai can utter even in their sleep.
South Africa is a good example of a country that has done this and  that has benefited from its concerted campaign to be a prime destination  when you think of Africa.This is the strategy that will work for Kenya ,making sure everything a potential tourist needs to know is out there such that visiting Kenya is on the bucket  list of the 7 billion or so people who inhabit the earth.

So next time someone asks where is Kenya do not be surprised because a lot of people really do not know as much as we expect they should about this country that sits on the equator.A country  that is home to one of the hottest places in the world,the Chalbi Desert,numerous world heritage sites,is home to one of the wonders of the modern world in the form of the wildebeeste migration and that  has some of the best climates you will find anywhere in the world.What a strange thing….

KENYAN TALK SHOWS-A Little more oomph please

Piers Morgan took over from Larry King and he got a show of his own Piers Morgan Tonight after Larry’s show winded up after 26 years which is a fairly long run for a show.We don’t have nay show on the Kenyan scene that has had such longevity.

Growing up i remember watching Press Conference that used to air on KBC which was then the only TV station and sometimes there were interesting guests other times i dozed off.Many TV talk shows later i have learned that the secret to a great show is a great host,someone who is able to engage their guests in a conversation and not a shouting match,show down or condescending attitude.

It seems to me Kenyan hosts always want to prove a point.It is okay for every host to have an agenda but it shouldn’t be so obvious to your audience that you are trying to prove a point.It is interesting to watch hosts who know how to bring out the best in their guest,this is because they have done their homework,know who this people are,what they think so much so that for the guest on your show it feels like you are having a conversation with a friend.Some people do this work of bringing out the best in others so well that watching Piers interview Howard Stern the infamous radio show host i actually loved him!

Captivating shows would be a great boon in a country where we have so many soap operas and Nigerian movies its hard to see a program where people are discussing real issues in a lively engaging manner.Julie Gichuru does this to some degree in her show but we do a need a place where real issues meet real people and great hosts.


The Kenya International film festival takes place between the 21st and 30th of October this year.Looking at the calender of events there are a lot of activities planned for anyone interested in film industry in Kenya.The opening film for the festival is the ‘First Grader” directed by Justin Chadwick and tells the story of the 84 year old Kimani Ngang’a Maruge who at his age decided to go to school when the government introduced free education just so he could learn to read the Bile.Looking at the program for this festival i was looking for any mentions on how the film industry’s growth could be spurred and there was none,here i mention areas for consideration.

The little black dress gained popularity in part thanks to film through Audrey Hepburn role as Holly Golightly in the 1960’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.Looking at most Kenyan films or television productions it is very rare to see the actors in these productions dressed by Kenyan fashion houses.We can learn a lot from the Nigerians who dress up their Nolly wood casts with creations that have Nigeria stamped all over them from the infamous head gears to the fabrics …..so much so that we have emulated or even been inspired by their sense of fashion .Just take a look at Kenyan weddings and even on national holidays most of what Kenyans wear is inspired by our Naija kin.

It is time Kenyan fashion industry woke up to the immense opportunities out there and started dressing up our television and film stars for free.Not only will it stir the industries growth it will also be a way for them to generate publicity and free advertisement to millions of tv viewing Kenyans.This will not only generate growth for the industry but will spur creativity and hopefully we will see emerging designers throw in haute couture or high fashion.

Opportunities for Growth

Other areas of growth for the film industry include locations.The wild beast migration was voted as the 8th wonder of the world and tourists flock in droves to Maasai Maara to view this one of a kind spectacle .While appreciating the role that the Magical Kenya advert on international news channels like CNN has done to spur tourist visits to the country,i would like to ask the Kenya film commission what special interest it has taken to build or market Kenya as a film location.We have amazing scenery right here and since the Constant Gardener was shot here i haven’t heard of a big budget movie that has been filmed on location.

Being a member of the Zanzibar film festival i recently recieved a message that was sent out to all group members to submit film scripts for consideration.Being very patriotic i am also a member of the Kenya International Film Festival and i have never seen or heard of a request for scripts .There is no way our industry is going to grow if we are not willing to nurture local talent and especially script writers because a good script is what makes or breaks a production.Every year we have the national drama and music festivals which are show cases in Kenyan creativity .We have some of the best scripts that would give some local TV shows a run for their money if we so wished.

Other areas that should look into ways of tapping into the innumerable opportunities film provides are musical score writers,make up artistes,special effects,set designers and location managers.

Last but not least we need to come up with an industry news letter that will inform Kenyans on whats happening in the film and TV industry,provide credible ratings of shows and critiques but also identify areas of growth.


Dear Kenyan Film Makers,

This is an open letter to you from an avid TV watcher and couch movie critic.First of all to thank you for the wonderful work you have done so far making Kenya proud with all the awards you have worn internationally.

Is it possible that you tell more Kenyan stories?the rags to riches stories of the Sonkos we have now,of the heroes past like Jaramogi,Tom Mboya,JM Kariuki.Let our children know where we have come from so that we know were we are headed to.We need to tell our stories because no one else will tell them for us.The Mau mau stories,the stories of the Italian POW’S who built that very tiny church along the Mai Mahiu road,the story of the portuguese at the coast
with enough suspense,gun fights and drama that would cure us of our unending love affair of Nigerian movies.

We have so many stories to tell!

Just looking at the credits as they roll out ,i think of all the possibilities that await the Kenyan film industry.From art directors to location mangers to script writers to music directors!The number of jobs that would be created by the film industry would be unimaginable.

Its time that the Kenya film commission did an evaluation of its core responsibilities and started revamping the film industry.First they would have to start with the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication that is stuck in a time warp,the world has moved on and its time we recognized we need more than film editors/producers.Let the college match its courses to industry needs,lets get creative.Can the commission do an audit of all the institutes and colleges that offer training in mass communication,how many are giving their students the necessary skills to match industry needs.And isn’t it time we had a Kenyan film institute?