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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Joseph Olita: the man who starred the best film I ever saw in the late 90s


                                          By Nyagaka Nyakundi Hesborn

When I watched ‘the Rise and Fall of Idi Amin’ for the first time, I was ten years old. It was sometime in 1997. In our part of the country then – as indeed was the case in many other parts here in Africa and elsewhere – a television set, let alone a video cassette player, was not among the common things many households could have placed in the sitting room.

But my father was a teacher, earning us one of the time’s rarest distinctions of possesing a black and white television receiver and a Video Home Service (VHS) playback machine. Every day at newstime, neighbours thronged into our house to sit and have ‘ a glance of the world’, as one of our neighbours, Rosalia( whom I have failed to forget), would put it. Children sat on the floor in front of their parents, amused more by the machine’s ability to show live images than what the news said.

This was a highly political time. A general election was approaching; there were screams of careless village bands almost everywhere you went, donning Kanu or Ford branded T-shirts and singing that ‘their candidate would take the election’. Daniel arap Moi ruled the country and almost every boy of my age and even older in my neighbourhood fully understood the word ‘Moi’ was the title by which our country’s president should be called. Political filth was flowing so furiously even little boys could see it.

Joseph Olita in 'The Rise and Fall of  Idi Amin" The actor passed away this week, but I will remember him for a long time to come.

A week before, a man had been killed for allegedly not saying ‘Kanu is at the top of everyone else’, as required by reportedly drunk people who had accosted him on his way home. Despite the fact that I knew the man very well, and so had planned to listen to what would be said about his death at the send off, I could not attend his funeral because I was left behind to look after the house along with my brother as the others left.

But even with this disappointment, the incident had engendered a troubling mystery within the boy I was, which boardered on both fascination and disgust. What was politics? And why would people go to such lengths as killing another over their political belieffs? These thoughts would nag my head through that evening, and my attempts to distract myself by chewing the backs of mauritus thorn seeds – as was my wont strangely – offered no respite.

I was resting on my favourite branch up Mrs. Rosalia’s guava tree, when the sun suddenly went off. The clouds in the sky darkened and hurried in one direction – as they always did before it rained – as if running from the rain themselves.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The tall witch:A boy's learning in the terrifying ambience of Echani

"Drr...Drrble!...drooble! droopdrup..lbldru!..."

This happens always where I was born whenever it rains or-like adults put it into children's minds- the winged people in the sky ,on God's instructions,empty His drums up for a downpour or a drizzle below onto both our roofs and farms and even animals or some people,like our neighbor Choni(John) who happens to be present at places without shelter at the time.If the result is a heavy downpour,then the angels would have emptied the smaller drums,otherwise it becomes obvious to every child from a household that still tells children stories that the drizzle came from a pour out of the small drums.

A boy's normal impulse as the sky roars and flashes in the build up to the fall is always an excited,agile sprint to save the goats from the field , get the dry clothes from the top of the hedge, or sometimes ,in the mother's or sister's absence,the maize that had been spread on a mat outside to dry in the sun for the posho mill and later evening meal.As he runs,his intention is always to save everything else from the rain,except himself;we highland boys -when smaller-enjoy rain falling on us so much so that we secretly hide to be rained on.We pretend to be more informed than our elders who tell us that it is not mosquitoes that infect one with malaria but rain instead.

'Abaisia baria(stupid boys)!get out of the rain or you will get malaria!",you will hear a father or mother shout after catching boys playing in the rain.The boys will stathen make as if they have obeyed and gone indoors but come out once sure they are out of their parent's gaze.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Infant Coporate with Eyes Trained on Digital Switch

By Nyagaka Hesborn Nyakundi
Driven by enthusiasm— or so it appeared--- they flocked into Nairobi’s Uhuru Park on that date in May 2011 in what would turn out to be a memorable stride in their avid entrepreneurial strides. It was slated for 4pm, but with the arrival of attendants ahead of schedule the meeting hit the road at about 3pm.

It was a soggy afternoon, as attendants later reported, yet more than half of the 2011 journalism class at the Kenya Polytechnic University College turned out.

At about 6pm the ad hoc launch ceremony for the infant corporate came to a cheerful close, with the appointment of interim officials and staff. They collectively agreed with the late Claire Adhiambo that the organisation be named Bamboo Media Association, a name that was to be dropped later on account of concerns that it sounded as if it were a SACCO.

So it was renamed Bamboo Media Group, and Edwin Tiego became the first group chairman.

But unknown to Mr Tiego and all the others, was the fact that this was the beginning of a long, treacherous journey into a future of both challenges and accomplishments.

But today BMG is well on course having completed a number of projects among them the early episodes of a thrilling television series named Machungu that is yet to première.

“We have made a lot of strides so far, but we are not yet where we want to be”, says Edwin Tiego.”
“We are actually looking at completely revolutionalising both the television and film industries in the country for the better in this country”.

Today, barely two years into its birth, the group has about 20 members with professional qualifications and experience in a wide array of specialities in both electronic and print media.

‘I believe we have some of the best brains the industry can offer working here. We have a very versatile team of professionals, equal to any job in the industry can offer”, adds Tiego.

According to BMG’s website, the organization consists of trained journalists, photographers, actors/actresses, scriptwriters, PR practitioners, camera operators, among others.

Ms Maryann Ochieng’, the group’s information officer, says they have a lot to celebrate so far, identifying Machungu as one of the most exciting projects to date.

‘That was one of my best experiences. You could easily tell we were heading somewhere as our crew set up equipment and worked in amazing harmony. It was so exciting, thrilling even’, says Ms Ochieng’ who doubles up as the group’s assistant video editor.
< The comprehensive production of Machungu gets underway in June
With the much hyped ongoing digital switch for television broadcast, the group hopes to fill the huge gap the country faces in producing the demand for local content that is set to rise.
According to the law laid down to facilitate the digital migration, it would be mandatory for television stations to air a huge percentage of their content as local programmes, a requirement Ronald Nyakweba,who writes scripts for BMG, is worried about as the government has not made plans to meet with the demand.
‘I personally feel that as a country we are not ready for the shift in the broadcast platform. I am particularly concerned about the lack of sufficient local content .We all know that our local film industry is growing now, and unless something is done the government might be forced to rethink its self-imposed deadline.”
BMG says it is one of the corporate groups, however small, alive to the challenge that will undoubtedly affect the digital switch and doing something about it.

As part of its ambitious effort to improve the film industry, BMG is intent on producing several works, already scripted. They include: Tears of Love, Tongues of Fire (a film on the post-election Violence), and others making up the group’s long list of programmes and films it hopes to produce.

“One of the reasons why we feel we can make this content contribution is the fact that we have staff that can adequately do the job”, says Helen Scandy, the group’s event organizer.
” We have every reason to make the contribution, with foreign productions flooding our market. It is incumbent on us as Kenyans to create our own industry, tell our own stories to the world”, she adds.
However, BMG is facing a huge financial challenge which it hopes to beat through partnerships with training institutions as well as media organizations.
“We will not let anything dampen our hope for the future. Our greatest hope is that our local film industry gets to its feet”, says Tiego

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dreaming into the Real New World

                                                 Dreaming into the Real New World

                                                                    Toward Universal power and peace


                                                                                                               By Nyagaka H Nyakundi

he World as we know it today has gone through numerous transformations and developments throughout the time it has been in existence. Life and even circumstances have substantially changed over time so that what seemed impossible tens to hundreds of years ago is utterly possible today. Populations have grown .Better and  useful technologies have been developed and, of course, worse war machines. The level of technology is nothing but unprecedented.

If our forefathers rose from the dead today, it would be very difficult for them to recognise this World. Despite the fact that this New World was part of the dream they dreamed in their day, several developments and innovations and inventions would be, to them, beyond imagination! This is the future they talked about in their day and we are their children, heirs of this future of their dreams.

We are indeed living in the future created by selfless  efforts in the past. We are, without doubt, living in a future of possibilities certainly unheard in say, 1930.Who would have imagined the world would later enjoy relative peace after the first and second World Wars? Who would have thought---except Martin Luther jnr. (of course)—that an Afro-american  would once occupy the White House? Who in Berlin and elsewhere  would have imagined in 1884 that Africa would one day fly independence flags?

These would have been obviously called wild dreams, yet they are now this future’s realities. This is indeed the New World of our forefather’s dreams. Their dreams and efforts gave birth to the future that is today.
Thus, the world today is a far cry compared to the Old World that solved problems through bloody wars. Although there are remnants of this old scheme of things it is safe to bet  that should    our forbearers resurrect they would actually call this the New World of their dreams .They would happily celebrate that their collective dream came to pass.

Happy should be their children!

In the run-up to the end of the devastating World Wars, leaders from the then free world came together to create what is the United Nations today. There is no doubt that the most important   issue prompting the creation of this organisation was ---and still is---World Peace. Through this effort the world has since experienced relative peace and unprecedented developments in all circles. This alone is enough to convince those of us that are privileged to be part of this generation that peace predicates a better future. Those who came before us knew that the future of their dreams would be impossible without peace and created sustainable frameworks for peace. This should never be lost on us as well.

But since our grandparents dreamed about a New World it is incumbent on us to dream of something better. Their dreams looked like hopeless illusions, but since we are privileged to learn from their experience we have the confidence to dream into the future. A future of even greater peace and prosperity: a Real New World! Those who came before us were responsible for this future; we have to create a better future for ourselves and those who would come after us.

In creating that future the world desires,  and badly so ,I consider a few things important: . peace , empowering  the people of the world in all aspects ,protecting and conserving the environment ,which is home to all of us. Ensuring the above-named factors are established and sustained, both individual and collective effort is necessary.

At my personal or individual level, I look forward to making efforts in that direction. I am a trained, but jobless journalist living here in Africa, Kenya.And let me say at this  point that my personal dream is at all inseparable  from that of my  country ,continent  and world.Based on this conviction,Am currently engaged in activities aimed at creating  peace through advocacy,empowering people(economically,politically  and intellectually),and sensitizing populations  in my neighborhood and even beyond  on the need to conserve and protect the environment.

Indeed,this was the motivation behind  the creation  of Bamboo Media Group ,an organization  I founded alongside my former college mates .At BMG we daily strive  along that course through  campaigns  and programmes Although hamstrung by a lack of funds ,BMG has actually succeeded in  teaching the youths and even older folks on the importance of  establishing and keeping  keeping peace.We have also succeeded in identifying and developing  talents in the hope that this would ultimately  empower people to depend on themselves.This includes a mentorship programme  which has  helped mentor young school leavers into skilled camera people ,actors/actresses,campaigners ,motivational speakers an so on.Our main tool is the internet  where we use various platforms  to reach our audience.

The collective journey  into the Real New World  is that simple to us.We cannot separate  our individual  dreams  from  that of  that collective hope  for our country and world.

We believe  that it is the small things done by ordinary people like us that would later  convert  the New World of our grandparents into  Real New World  for this and coming generations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Late Adhiambo's Bamboo Dream

The Late Adhiambo's Bamboo Dream
                                               by Nyagaka H  Nyakundi

The news about Claire Adhiambo's mysterious demise struck me-and indeed all of us present at the hospital that afternoon to visit  her  -as painfully as a hornet's sting.

It was January 24,2011,a busy day for us at Bamboo Media Group(BMG) in whose formation  Ms Adhiambo had played a crucial part.This was going to be a busier day with so much to discuss about underway shoots.But with the news that our colleague had not responded to medication yet,we collectively resolved to shelf our plans to visit her.

At about noon Edwin Tiego,Ronald Nyakweba ,Maryanne  Ochieng' and myself left for the Kenyatta National Hospital(KNH) where Ms Adhiambo had been  hospitalized  for a while.And as fate would have it,we were the first group of visitors to receive the sad news:she had passed on three hours before our arrival.The announcement,made by a very  unruffled doctor,struck us hard.All of us were visibly shaken,dazed,bewildered.A young lady  who had not  joined us in the briefing  room broke down as soon as she learnt the sad news through us outside .

I first met the late Adhiambo in 2009,shortly after my fortunate admission into the Kenya Polytechnic University College to pursue my journalism dream.And as if that was what fate had ordained,I was organized into the same classroom with her.However,our friendship did not spark immediately.Given my raising at the heart of a hamlet in the outskirts of a rural town,I was quick to dismiss her as one of those flashy,snobbish girls Nairobi harbored.Consequently,I eschewed her ,kept her at arms length,and never venturedbeyond her always warm greetings .

However,a few months  into the course,I was struck by her humility and amity.She raised smiles wherever she went,her very presence in our classroom causing a sort of ambience that-if nobody else did-I at least felt.Adhiambo was inquisitive,talkative and at all whimsical.Adhiambo lived her life with unparalleled passion,which suddenly started to seep away,or so I saw,  after 2010.

But to return to the robust Adhiambo with whom I fell into great friendship,this is why am going to miss her.Sometime in June last year,shortly after we completed our journalism course,she was in the number of tens of enthusiastic former students of the Kenya Polytechnic University College class of 2009/2011,eager  to form an entrepreneurship outfit which we afterward named Bamboo Media Group (BMG).Now I was not present  physically on that day to know who suggested we use "Bamboo".But from my close and yet discreet association with Ms Adhiambo ,I had  come to note her love of the bamboo tree.She loved yellow and green.And she often dressed in yellow and  green clothes.She once had a yellow phone and studs.To her the  bamboo tree and its colors was a symbol of resilience and hope.

For those of us who were fortunate to be in contact with her , especially at BMG we mourn this  unbearable loss of an  untimely death. But at a personal level,I will forever miss her easy laughs,witty humor and adorable humility.Rest in Peace,Unforgettable ,madam.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bamboo Media Group(BMG) Six Months on

 by Nyagaka Nyakundi Hesborn
They came in droves to that meeting that incidentally set the stage for  a momentous and equally challenging time for an infant corporate named Bamboo Media Group(BMG).I had personally planned to attend that first meeting,but with  Stacey  effecting her plans to move to a new house I felt obligated to give a hand,missing out  what I  had expected to be an impressive meeting turn-out  out of  the curiosity  of those who would attend.

Drawn mainly from our 2011 journalism class at the Kenya Polytechnic University College,this  was a meeting that Henry Onyango ,now of The Truth Weekly, later described  to me by phone
as  mamoth.Offhead,Henry counted Edwin Tiego,Onesmus Mulinge,Maryann Ochieng',Ronald Nyakweba,Peter Mungoma,Miriam Njeri,Claire Adhiambo as present, in and endless list that only ended with the beep in my phones earpiece,a sign my airtime had come up.

It was an informal launch meeting at Uhuru  Park,and so leaders had to be picked by vote.In the ad hoc plebiscite ,Edwin Tiego was elected  chairman,much as I had  hoped,Peter Mutachi   as vice chairman although he later resigned unceremoniously at an ABC Cafe meeting citing no reasons for the action.There was also Ronald Nyakweba,Maryann Ochieng',Hellen Scandy,Claire Adhiambo and myself on the list of officials.

But to return to  Peter Mutachi's perhaps eccentric resignation.Weeks following his action our challenges intensified.Many defected from the group ,leaving a handful of us holding on to what appeared to be nothing,groping in endless darkness.More defections. So that it now came to only officials attending our fortnightly meetings.During our last meeting held in November,there was only three or four from the officials number attending.We had been toying with the idea of doing away with meetings and set about working from our homes.It was at this trying moment that an idea struck us:Drama Programme!
At that meeting I have alluded to,our script writer Ronald Nyakweba arrived  clutching scripts he had done.We agreec something had to get going!

To make the  long story trim,we closed the year last week  with auditions for two tv Programmes:Machungu and Tears of Love 
The next year -next month in fact-we hope to produce these series .
However,we desperately need funds  to facilitate our  activities.We still believe we will make it!For those of us in BMG,2012 is going to be the year of sacrifice.See our group on facebook for details

Merry Christmas and Happy 2012!