By Ken Njenga Wambui
Published December 24, 2014
You couldn’t help noticing that his eyes were getting wet and if his speech continued he would soon shed tears.
“Please don’t neglect what we have leant in filmmaking when you return to your countries and, more so, don’t forget us,” said Celestine Oburu who had just taken part in a five-day filmmaking workshop for 11-16-year-old East Africans in the Kenyan commercial and political capital, Nairobi.
As he continued to address his colleagues emotionally as usually happens when saying good bye among young people who have just got to know one another, Oburu said, “As for me, I will never forget you guys; I have not only made friends but family in the course of working together over the past seven days. I promise to continue with what we have leant in film production and give special thanks to Lola Kenya screen, East African Film Network, East African Community and GIZ for bringing us together to train on what we could not have done on our own. Now I am confident enough to produce my own films from the training I have received here.”
During the workshop, part of Lola Kenya Screen’s skill-development programme for children and youth in eastern Africa that brought participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania mainland, Zanzibar, Rwanda and Burundi, the children came up with their own stories that they developed into scripts, rehearsed, acted and shot into short fiction films after being introduced to the film production process by mentors Akpor Otebele of California (USA) and Prof Emmanuel Emasealu of Nigeria’s Port Harcourt University.
Held December 7-12, 2014 with the support of East African Film Network (EAFN), East African Community (EAC) and German Agency for International Development (GIZ), the participants got to appreciate the whole process even better after they toured the television studios of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and experienced live production and transmission of programmes. They learnt how TV production works; right from camera operation to lighting and sound production and from editing all the way to the dissemination.
The Children were brought together in Nairobi to learn how to not only create but also improve film production values in the five East African Community countries through focusing on cinematography. The event was held on the theme, ‘Youth Culture and New Markets in East Africa’.
The seven-day programme started with a visit to the Nairobi National Museum (NNM) for the participants to acquaint themselves with cultural heritage, learn about conservation and bond with one another as East Africa espouses regional integration and cooperation among its people of diverse cultures and worldviews.
The children toured all the galleries of the museum, learnt about evolution of humankind, cultures and traditions, the naming of children after their ancestors, paying bride-wealth in marriage, and rites of passage such as circumcision.
“I learnt that 95% of human’s DNA is similar to that of a chimpanzee. I saw the skeleton of one of the earliest ancestors of humankind and was taken through the process of evolution and also the skull of the largest elephant that ever existed in Kenya,” said 12-year-old Tara Camille Rukohoza of Burundi.
The participants also learnt about birds and plants that exist in East Africa through a visit to Nairobi Botanic Garden (NBG), the importance of trees in the formation of rainfall and also the importance of environmental conservation.
“I had never thought that trees contributed so much in our life; after this trip I shall plant more trees in our home,” said 12-year-old Derek David Ngarapi of Tanzania.
Opening the 3rd Forum of the East African Film Network that took place in the framework of the 9th Lola Kenya Screen, Lydia Momanyi, a former culture officer who now works in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade stressed the need for supporting arts and culture through films for enhancing cooperation among East African Community citizens and integration of the bloc.
“I commend Lola Kenya Screen for the good job it is doing in collaboration with EAFN, EAC and GIZ in developing talents and creating new markets through films and more so enhancing togetherness among the EAC countries,” she said.
Apart from the cinematography workshop, the 3rd EAFN Forum and tours of NNM, NBG and KBC, also held daily film shows in the Ford Hall of NNM and William Holden Suite of Nairobi Safari Club (NSC).
Though it had been planned for the children and youth to participate in painting, sketching, drawing and live performances at Nairobi Gallery within the Nairobi Central Business District, this was not fully realized due to a shortage of time and an extremely full programme. Hey, but that didn’t prevent the minors from the breadth and with of the East African Community from swimming!