An open letter to Kenyan Filmmakers [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]

The time has come for Africans to tell their own stories

A video camera

Dear Kenyan Filmmaker,

Hoping you are on the other side, are you well?

Here on my keyboard, I am disturbed. What is the reason of my disturbance? It’s the fact that our African languages are not only going extinct but they are thought to be incapable of expressing profound and elevated thoughts.

Can we use our languages to express our thoughts? YES! Through film. Films, compared to guns, are very powerful if used effectively.

World War II was won through propaganda which was mainly transmitted through films.

Africa has been painted negatively, sometimes as a continent with illiterate, cruel, hard people with no heart among many other things.

That is not us and time has come for, us, filmmakers to arise, pick our pens, cameras and tell our own stories using our own languages.

Let’s show the world who we really are, let's recreate the world’s imagination of us as Africans and more so Kenyan filmmakers.

I show you what I want to show you

In Kenya, we have more than forty-five ethnic languages and forty-seven counties. If we use films to paint a picture of our beautiful country, cultures and heritages then we will change the world’s thoughts about our country.

There is this line which is commonly used, ‘I show you what I want to show you’ and a good illustration would be New York City in America.

NYC has been painted as a city where life is lavish and full of fun, which has influenced more people to choose it as their number one travel destination. How sure are we that is the way life is lived there?

What if we use film to create a good picture of Mombasa, Nairobi and other beautiful parts of Kenya but using our own stories and languages? Won't tourists increase in our land? Won't we have created a different picture of our country, Kenya?

Enter, Nollywood

When Nollywood films took over our media we described them as ‘trash’ and 'boring', yet they had their own language, own signature and identity.

If someone ever asked you to describe Nigeria I am very sure you will have a full page essay in font size eight and 1.15 spacing, simply put, you will have a lot to write on just one page.

Were you asked to write about Nairobi based on the films you have watched would you have anything to document?

In Kenya too, we have a lot of mythical stories, oral traditions and more. We should emulate the Nigerian culture of making films and this will enable the upcoming generation to learn our languages and preserve our cultures and heritages.

STOP telling European stories using Kiswahili

Celebrated Nigerian author Chinua Achebe opined: “The last five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light, and now the time has come for Africans to tell their own stories... Africa is a huge continent with a diversity of cultures and languages. Africa is not simple – often people want to simplify it, generalize it, stereotype its people, but Africa is very complex."

The world is just starting to get to know Africa.

If we could only use our languages to tell our own stories, stories that we can relate to; stories that can preserve our cultures and heritages; then we can make our own signature, our own style that the world can identify us with.

We should STOP telling European stories using Kiswahili and in our beautiful Kenyan land.

I will conclude this letter with a Luhya proverb that says "Wakhaleka papao, nikho khakonia mao," which can be translated as, "Even if you despise you father, he is the one who sleeps with your mother!"

Your comrade and biggest fan,

Barone Oindi.

The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors initiative.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

Should you wish to submit an Article to Pulse, do so via contributors@pulse.co.ke.

Barone Onyango Oindi is a spirited 22-year-old Kenyan. He is an actor, comedian, commercial model and a film enthusiast. He also writes film scripts once in a while in addition I love vlogging, shooting random videos and making comedy skits.

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