Flipping the Media Africa-Style

[Note from Hanson Hosein, MCDM Director: This is a guest blog post by Donald Giesen, Seattle native, now in Nairobi, Kenya as Executive Director of the East African School of Media Studies. Please see below for Donald’s request for donations of any old spare DV cameras you might have.]

Here in Kenya, many media practitioners still hesitate to get on the train that is the internet. Perhaps we are too used to our decrepit, colonial-era locomotives which are never in a hurry to get anywhere. We figure that we can always hop on board even if we’re caught napping when it leaves the station.

But I’m afraid this “train” is more like the bullet trains found in Japan- if you’re not in your seat by the time the whistle blows, you’ve got a looong walk ahead of you.

Strained analogy aside, the changes that the internet has brought in terms of media creation, distribution and consumption are real and those of us who are too slow in embracing this change risk getting left behind.

So when my students were given the opportunity to work on a collaborative project with MCDM, I wouldn’t have dared to let the opportunity pass.
We worked on a theme of exploring the more disadvantaged communities in our respective locales. I chose to involve students that come from the Nairobi slums themselves so that they could share aspects of their everyday lives.

The films were not to be longer than 3 minutes and this helped them concentrate on the story that they wanted to tell-short and tight.

The end result? They broke out of the “traditional” documentary approach and strengthened their creative muscles. It was also clear that they relished the opportunity to share with the world their backyards. Here are 2 of the films:

It was such a good experience that we’ve decided to continue producing these glimpses into everyday, Nairobi life. It’s now a project under Asiliana (an NGO which name is Swahili for “communicate”) and we will be involving more young people to tell their stories.

At the moment we’re working with only one camera, so if you have any unwanted or under-worked MiniDV camcorders that you’d like to donate to this project, they would be extremely helpful in enabling these stories to be told.

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