By Ogova Ondego and Daisy Okoti
Published February 10, 2015
A colourfully-painted public service matatu vehicle moves at neck-breaking speed, earth-shaking music blaring from its speakers, ferries passengers to their various work destinations.
This was one of the highlights in Nairobi on February 6, 2015 as Kenyan youth drawn from the music, animation and game application (app) development sectors showcased their newly-acquired creative and innovation skills at their graduation ceremony in the country’s commercial, cultural and political capital.
During their five-month training, the graduands, under the supervision of tutors from Kenya and Ireland, were said to have been equipped with skills in animation, music and digital game app design with which they produced a short film, a sound track and a game based on Kenya’s matatu public transport culture on the theme, ‘The Sound of the City’.
The showcase of completed work by the youth preceded their graduation ceremony that was held in Unga House in Westlands.
The training was conducted under Africa Knowledge Exchange (AKE), a project of Global e-schools and communities initiative (GESCI) that came into being in 2003 and whose “mission is to support governments to use and integrate technology in education and training systems for the creation of a knowledge society for all.”
In his welcome speech, Jerome Morrissey, the Chief Executive Officer of GESCI said that the programme was motivated by the fact that the creative sector of Kenya has a lot of potential which, if well tapped, can yield so much force that can create a lot of opportunities for the youth as well as create a positive change in the society.
“Animation, music production, sound design and mobile games apps were handled concurrently in this training workshop because in this era where the multimedia society is a big part of us, these products are always intertwined. We also brought them together during the training to give our students a feel of how these separate but inter-related components of art complement one another,” Morrissey said. There is a lot of rich cultural expression everywhere in Nairobi and the challenge is to capture this in our music, animations and games and counter the over influence of foreign values at the expense of our own authentic, deep cultural stories.”
Based on the theme ‘Sounds of the city’ that was aimed at bringing out the various aspects of urban life in Nairobi, workshop participants created works that reflected Nairobi’s urban culture, such as the graffiti and music in matatus and Africa-oriented game applications.
These areas of specialisation in training – music production, animation and mobile games – were also chosen because of the multiple uses to which skills in these areas can be put, according to Elaine Wacuka Hurt, the Program Manager of the workshop.
Saying “Music permeates all areas of the multimedia,be it in advertising, entertainment, film soundtrack or even in social events and gathering,” Hurt explained that “it is vital that the youth get the training on both how and why it is important that they come up with their own music and sound trends for our own consumption.’
In her final address to the graduates, Patti Swarts, Director of programmes at GESCI’s, congratulated the youngsters for what she termed as their collaboration, maturity and commitment throughout the 19 weeks of the workshop. She encouraged the graduands to go out and use their talent and skills and continue to build themselves in their areas of specialisation.
“You have given us inspiration through your efforts and hard work. Use the skills you have learnt to build a strong model that can be replicated,” said Swarts.
Swarts said AKE seeks to “contribute to identifying the critical link between skills development, learning and innovation as a requirement for knowledge society development. In this regard, AKE focuses on investigating how new digital creative media skills are, and could be developed among the youth in Africa.”
GESCI says it undertakes “research to strengthen the knowledge base on the use and integration of ICT in education and training systems.”