|Article by Ogova Ondego
Published May 7, 2008
Kenyan film director Bob Nyanja is set to represents Kenya and Africa at the Sony Studios in Hollywood, California, during a four-hour live broadcast that seeks to bring the world together through film on May 10, 2008. OGOVA ONDEGO reports.
Nyanja, whose MALOONED, a 100-minute feature film set in a 15th floor toilet in a Nairobi skyscraper set a record for local films in Kenya by screening in major cinemas for the longest possible time in Kenya in 2007 and went on to win international film awards and rave reviews, left Nairobi for California on Wednesday ahead of the Pangea Day, an annual event that takes place on Saturday, May 10, 2008.
Nyanja’s short film on Kenyans singing the national anthem of India was one of 24 films selected from among 2500 submissions from 102 countries to be shown live to the world during the annual Pangea Day on May 10, 2008.
Sponsored by MTV films, the aim of the Pangea Day is to use filmmaking to bring about global harmony and promote understanding and tolerance through film. The four-hour live globcast will link events in four locations around the world including Kigali, Rwanda (Africa), London, UK (Europe), and Los Angeles, California (USA).
The event will bring film directors and artists from different countries to showcase the films they have shot, and share their ideas with the rest of the world.
During the trip, Nyanja says, the directors will be introduced to seasoned filmmakers from Hollywood who will conduct training seminars with them.
To be selected, Bob Nyanja made a 121-second film clip featuring an all-Kenyan choir singing the national anthem of India set against the backdrop of the East African metropolis city, Nairobi, and the picturesque Maasai Plains in Rift Valley’s salt lake Magadi, “the video is a sleek medley of distinct Kenyan choir, adorned in the traditional outfits of the various Kenyan communities, singing the Indian national anthem in Gujirati.”
So how did he come up with this concept?
Nyanja says the cataclysmic events that followed the disputed presidential election in Kenya in December 2007 inspired him to seek unity among the various communities living in Kenya.
“More than ever,” Nyanja says, “recent events in Kenya have reminded us that we are actually a collection of 42 nations brought together through intentional historical design of the colonial powers into one fabric now called Kenya.”
He filmed the music video with some 42 actors dressed in multicultural costumes of the 42 nationalities of Kenya.
But why did he choose to sing the national anthem of India and not that of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania or South Africa?
“I chose India since Kenya has a huge Indian component in her population,” he says. “The blending of the rich red ochre colours of the Maasai and Samburu, blending with the bold colobus monkey headdress of the Luo, the facial markings of the Turkana, and the silky Arabic tunics of the Swahili from Mombasa, give us a rich mix of colours that weave the fabric of our country.”
His video”Kenya Sings India”that is already posted on youtube ahead of the Pangea Day, uses two back drops: an urban backdrop that has become part of Kenya’s heritage and the expansive Savanna plains that are typically the Kenya that the world recognises. However, he makes the choir wear traditional outfits for the city and the more modern outfits for the country.
The video also features Kenyan tourism attraction landmarks such as Uhuru Park, Kenyatta International Conference centre, the Savannah Plains, the Maasai manyatta, and the cattle and other domestic animals associated with Kenyan pastoral communities.
The crew of Kenya Sings India include Johannes Leonardo (concept), Blue Sky Films (EPZ) Ltd (production house), Mario Zvan and Jim Shamoon (producers), Nyanja (director), Hemal Shah (Production Manager), Shiv Mandavia (Production Coordinator), Consolata Karani and Phylis Andika (Production Assistants), Catherine Mumbua (Production Accountant), Tosh Gitonga (Assistant Director), Yayha Chavanga (Location Manager), Martin Munyua (Director of Photography), Mariano Favetto (conceptual artist), Maggie Kiundi (Choir Coordinator), Kevin Ouma (Camera Assistant), Francis Ouma (Best Boy Lighting), Ezekiel Andika (Electrician), Jackie Tella (Key Grip), Steve Obunde (Crane Grip), Ken Omutimba (Assistant Grip), Lee Smith (Sound Recordist), Sophie Oprisanu (Wardrobe Coordinator), Chris Kariuki (Wardrobe Assistant), Patrick Musyimi (Unit Coordinator), Wycliff Obote and Joel Karo (Unit Assistants), Philip Murugi (Editor) and Lawrence Macharia, George Atsiaya,Ferdinand Yeswa, Mwangi D.and Mbugwa D (Drivers).
The cast (choir members) comprise Geoffrey Mukoto, Esther Nyandia Kariuki, Violet Muhonjia Ingosi, Urbanus Kioko Octavy, Jane Wandi Wanjira Njeru, Mathew Muriuki Githinji, James Kagwimah, Brenda N. Munyasia, Marietta Mwamachi, Rosemary Nyongai, Stephan Okoth, Mary Mwende Mutua, Liboyi Paul Nganyi, Justus Mutua, David Mumanga, Dorcas Akinyi, Agatha Nafula, and Abbyserah W. Kiruri.