THE KENYAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: When The Cookies Crumble.

The entertainment industry seems to be on a “revolution” mode. There is a wind of change that seems to be sweeping right across the Kenyan Entertainment Industry.

First was the issue of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) with artists. Nairobi — After a successful meeting that was held a at the Kenya National Theatre between musicians, producers and Kenya Copyright Board officials, musicians have did put MCSK on notice.

They are currently collecting about 500 signatures which will allow them to get a special annual general meeting for all the stake-holders in the music industry.

This special AGM, we were told would amend sections of the constitution, and will allow members to remove the board of directors from MCSK and elect new members.

“Finally everybody can be held accountable and hopes of transparency in MCSK is on our table,” said Roba of Klepto.

That was sometime in June 2011. Since then so much has happened, The Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and The Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRSK) used the opportunity to solidify their existence while MCSK was trying to get it’s act together. At some point KECOBO de-registered MCSK and withdraw their licence as a Collecting Management Organization (CMO).

This year’s elections were being looked on as a revolution. Artists wanted to be the ones to occupy the top posts and they sure did as was on the rather chaotic elections were eventually done with notable names making it to the various posts with MCSK decision making organs.

As this was going on, the film and television industry was sharpening their axes ready for action. In a meeting held on 4th February 2011 at the Louis Leakey Auditorium at The National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, the film stakeholders did give the Kenya Film Commission (KFC) and the other “film industry” oriented parastatals like The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), The Department of Film Services (DFS) and The Kenya Film Corporation, tongue lashing with loads of demands that they needed worked on as a matter of urgency. it is however sad that one year six months later, not so much has been achieved though.

The Kenya Film Commission has been on the receiving end in the recent past with accusations from various stakeholders over mismanagement of funds, corruption etc. that was brought to the attention of the world through this forum which ended in the arrest of the owner of this blog (Roy Kohadha Ogolla) in late June.

The arrest seem to have set the pace for the long overdue change song, already the government has sent various investigative teams to unearth the rot that ails the industry. It is also understood that The Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Information and Communication is soon going to start an investigation into the matter.

But before the dust can even settle, there is already another storm created by a group of artists who ply their trade from the Kenya Cultural Centre/Kenya National Theatre. Led by the tenants, the group had decided to petition the Ministry of National Heritaage and Culture decrying the poor state of the facility, alleged misappropriation of funds, victimization and what they term as high handedness by the Director Mr. Arghan Odero Agan, himself a “retiring” performing artist.

In a letter sent to various government departments and cultural partners (a copy of which was obtain by this forum and posted earlier) the group wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Jacob ole Miaron, (PhD), CBS with a bevy of demands that includes the disbandment of The Governing Council of Centre which is ironically chaired by Dr. Muchai Mwangola-Githongo, a theatre scholar and wife to social justice crusader and former anti-corruption c-zar, John Githongo, among other things.

This forum is meant to understand that a copy of the letter was sent to all the Governing Council Members, and The Director before it was presented to the PS. Word has it that the PS, who was away for lunch at the time the group of 15 thespians peacefully stormed his office, did not come back from his lunch break and instead refered the group to his Director Incharge of Administration Amb. (Mrs) Ann Nyikuli, who despite her “busy” schedule (she was meant to be chairing another meeting) patiently sat down with the team for close to two hours to hear their grievances.

She promised to debrief the PS upon his return and that the team would be informed of any actions that the ministry will deem fit. The team has given the Ministry a one week ultimatum after which it is understood that they have promised to hold a massive demonstration that will see them “hound” Mr. Odero out of office. This forum awaits that day with bated breath.

Even though it is viewed that much of activism today is a form of entertainment where objective and balanced views are discarded in favor of sensationalism and instant gratification, it is worth noting that the new wave of activism is believed to be of great importance to the industry.

We can have fun, and make a difference! While we are always going to have to work hard to change the world, who says we can’t enjoy ourselves along the way?

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