Export: Why don't we do enough of it?

5 Min Read

I remember when I first heard that the Kiondo and the Kikoi had been patented by Japanese and UK interests I was rather amused. I suppose the implication had not sunk in and the ludicrous  claim was probably numbing the senses.

This was shadowed later by statements by a promoter on twitter claiming that Kenyan music is simply not played in West Africa. West African music however gets massive airplay here translating to lots of opportunity for the artistes to glean money and relevance from the market.

Of Course this is not a bad thing seeing as we should have more African content crossing borders anyway. For the longest time I have wanted to watch content from Mauritius, maybe watch daily news from Burkina Faso or watch a sitcom from Namibia. These countries are really close and I am sure I would relate to their stories better than watching a bunch of caucasian friends living in New York.

There are locally produced sitcoms that urbanites find tiring, tasteless and morbidly boring in the amount of recycled stereotypes that are regularly circulated. The village folk find it absolutely hilarious seeing as they are the target audience anyway. Its a matter of context really and most urbanites don’t get it. They subsist on foreign series and so probably understand American jokes better than the local ones (I personally suffer from this syndrome) and so avoid local TV.

Now to me, Entertainment is entertainment. What appeals to a family man in rural Kenya could possibly be funny as hell to a bachelor in the Central African Republic or down in Botswana. Our music could probably sound so exotic in Mali that it becomes a total hit.

Well we simply don’t know this because we do not try hard enough. The internet has totally democratised content but lets not forget that the internet itself has not been democratised.

I have had broadband internet where I live for 2 years now. Westerners have had it for 10 plus years. I am in the 10% of the country that happens to live where the service is available and can afford it. Again context comes to play.

Mass media is still TV and Radio.As I write this I am watching a music video in Kikuyu on a TV station that exclusively uses Kikuyu in its broadcast. This has been made possible by advent of Cable TV and Democratisation of the broadcast spectrum.

Watching this video of these guys trying to dance like the kids


I couldn’t help but wonder why we do not export way more music that the west.

I mean the budget for that video was probably 0 for the kids dancing. It was still entertaining enough to warrant a remake or parody by the white guys who also enjoyed it immensely while performing,rehearsing it or in this case youtubing it. There is a very rich heritage and good old tradition that is a treasure waiting to be shared and monetized.

African Railway Network

Above you can see the investments done by the colonists have barely been changed an European Railwayd the general trend is  that of extraction and not facilitation of intercontinental trade. I still find it unreasonable that I cannot get a train to Bamako and have to fly there. Its quite ridiculous.

Compared to Europe we should just shut up about unbalanced trade. And it starts with culture. I relate better to a French guy than a guy from Mozambique. Zero in common aside from residing on the same tectonic plate. Big problem that no one seems interested in resolving.

Share This Article