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A MAGAZINE FOR THE CAREER-PERSON AND ENTREPRENEUR

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EDITOR'S NOTE 03

THE ROLE OF CREATIVITY IN CULTURE 04

EAST AFRICA'S HYPER-REALIST SENSATION 08

SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH TREVOR'S EYES 12

Contents WANURI KAHIU ’S JOURNEY OF COURAGE TO CANNES 16

SETH GOR'S HOT TAKE ON COMEDIC CREATIVITY 21

AFRO-FUTURISM WITH JACQUE NJERI 23

HIP-HOP SENSATION TUNJI 26

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Editor’s Note Hello & Welcome to White Collar! In this issue we look at creativity and its next generation stewards. The Novelist Ayn Rand said ‘professional intellectuals are the voice of a culture and are therefore, its leaders, its integrators and its bodyguards.’ We identify the role of the artist and draw from their virtues. ‘Creativity takes Courage’ said Henri Matisse and the courage to be honest about our society is what will push us to make the required changes. We also acknowledge the role of creativity to preserve culture in a society where people try to shed their culture. Legendary musician and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela saw this and spoke about it saying “20 years from now when my grandchildren are asked who they are they will say ‘It is rumoured that we used to be Africans long ago’.” This is an effort to clearly define what makes us who we are, and encourage us to cling to our uniqueness. We hope you enjoy this issue. Keep reaching out to us across our social platforms.

Contributors:

Michael Kiruthi, Esq Emmanuel Kyama

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Kyama Kivuva

ManuKyama

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he places we’ve been to and things we’ve experienced shape our personalities. The way we do things, the food we eat and the way we dress are quintessential representations of who we are and where we’re from.

All these little puzzle pieces of music, fashion, language and so on, come together to create a larger picture more complete picture of a people’s culture. Culture can be defined as the ideas, customs and social behaviours of a particular people or society. In a way this definition ties in to the arts and manifestations of human intellectual achievements regarded collectively (this definition is closer to pop culture though). Every generation has their markers and identifiers that single them out and act as a reminder of the times they lived in. A given era’s popular culture triggers untold nostalgia and like waters breaking through a dam wall, memories flood back. A given time’s culture is an accurate measure of what people thought, felt and thought. Looking deeper into culture, you begin to see that yes it’s a representation what people thought but in many ways it is a vital tool that shapes thinking. Culture is how we tell a new generation that ‘these are our values’. It has proved to be a more potent teaching tool than an actual classroom. It’s close to impossible for culture to be expressed without creativity. Many people have tried to define creativity. Eric Jerome Dickey said “It is impossible to define creativity. It’s like asking a bird ‘how do you fly’. You just do!” Einstein tried to describe it and said “Creativity is intelligence having fun!” Creativity is the cornerstone of a culture. The various expressions that colour a culture are born from creativity. How people create and what they create, be it music or film or paintings help people see the world differently and this is incredibly profound and powerful. “Art, Freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” said Victor Pinchuck.

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Creativity that shapes Culture How people speak is telling a place’s culture. Everything from the language to imprint of the accent left when speaking a foreign tongue points to a specific culture. What people talk about can highlight their most intimate of ideas. Conversation facilitates exchange of ideas and we try to share the best of ideas.

tough conversations about, society now in contrast to what they think society should be. “I have always felt that there is a need for people to be open and stalk about the issues that really matter.” started Nyacomba, “There are so many blurred lines within society that people never really consider, or question. And we are here to question.” At Free Minds they have a wide span of conversations covering everything

Every generation has their markers and identifiers that single them out and act as a reminder of the times they lived in The stewards of creativity play a vital role in shaping culture. One of such stewards in Kenya is Nyacomba Githu, Founder at Free Minds Sessions where people from all walks of life come to exchange ideas and have

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from mental health, to gender, sex and even politics. They cut through

strictly from their perspective without them being willing to accept a different persons ideas. These are some of the things we try and work on.” It is believed that in free speaking forums in Athens during the 5th Century is when the Idea of Democracy was formed. Progressive forums that foster the uncomfortable conversations are how we achieve progress. And a key feature of these forums is the creation of a seemingly judgment free zone. “We have tried to create an environment that is judgment free at Free Minds, however with time we have begun to notice that it’s impossible to have zero judgment and that it’s really up to us to bravely rise above the fear of judgment and speak our minds.” stated Nyacomba. The changing conversation of a people

the uncomfortable in order to reveal what people really think. “We have an open forum at Free Minds and I’ve noticed that when people speak, it’s

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is one of the ways that people can create or shape a culture. Because with conversation and understanding they begin to refine values and define world views.

matatus to the world, but a lot is clearly lost in translation. Footballer Thiery Henry said that ‘it was difficult to explain Kenya to an outsider’ because more times than not culture is something that has to experienced and felt.

Creativity that preserves Culture

Quite recently rap sensation Cardi-B, was painted on a matatu and she couldn’t contain her excitement when she saw the photos. She went on social media in a state of shock, gratitude and excitement. Basketball titan Steph Curry was also moved by his drawing on a Kenyan matatu and in response he tweeted “So much love!!!”

BRIAN 'GRAFF' WANYAMA

Time can erode even the most stubborn of materials, and when shaping culture we unearth values that we want to protect and pass on. The arts are what people turn to, as a medium to preserve and showcase culture. Everything from music to photographs works to capture the markers of a people’s culture and the evolution thereof. Nairobi has one of the most vibrant art and innovation scenes in Africa. Nairobi displays the cutting edge of pop culture through its vibrant public transport system (matatus/ matwana) buses. Matatus are a quintessential feature in Nairobi and have received attention the world over. The graffiti art on these vehicles shares everything from bible quotes, African proverbs, puns to beautiful airbrush portraits of sportsmen and musicians.

The matatu industry provides employment as an alternative to crime. And In an effort to express themselves, they play their music loud and dress in the flashiest clothes and speak the latest slang ‘sheng’. Their flair and rowdy attitude is their little protest against a system that they feel has let them down. They rebel against the clean cut and orderly government provided transport system saying that they are the true face of Nairobi. Their following is unprecedented with Graff Matwana’s Matwana Culture having over 200 thousand followers on Social media. They really are the true face of Nairobi. The matatu industry makes it difficult for the government and citizens to look away from what the flaws in the Kenyan society. Artists like Pablo Picasso have used some of their paintings (for example Night Fishing at Antibes) to express the political tension in Europe before the war. In some ways the matatus share that sentiment, and tell the government ‘You could do better’. ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

The matatu art has received attention the world over and the self-proclaimed matwana ambassador Brian Wanyama, better known under his alias ‘Graff matwana’ is usually in the middle of this attention making attempts to explain

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ddie Ochieng is an artist based in Kenya. His work has received a lot of attention on social media and has earned him the opportunity to display his masterpieces at some of the most prestigious galleries throughout Africa and the rest of the world. He participated in the Kenyan Art fair in 2017, and the Nairobi art community received him warmly.

Recently he made his mark at the Franschhoek art fair in Cape Town, South Africa, where his paintings were all the rage, and even earned him invitations to Art festivals in America. Like most of the great artists throughout history, Mr Ochieng is a bit of an introvert. His art is an attempt to show people the world as he sees it and what he finds beautiful and feels is relevant. “I am fascinated with faces.” Started Mr. Ochieng, “there is so much detail and character hidden there, in plain sight.” His hyperrealism journey is one that touches on people and the faces you see at every stage of life. He accurately depicts the vitality and brilliance of youth and also the character and wisdom that comes with age. “I believe that every wrinkle on a person’s face tells a story and I hope that when someone views my work, they feel it.” said Mr Ochieng. Journey into Hyperrealism

How did you end up in Hyperrealism? In high school I realised my talent for drawing, I started off with pencil drawings, and I drew pretty much anything that was in front of me. I did landscapes, portraits, still life

and even anatomy. My high school art teacher, Mr Mutinda, noticed my interest in art and started to push me, ‘you don’t have to be perfect’ he said, ‘just take any surface and do something … anything’. I began to experiment with more classic themes; you know, the bowl of fruits and floral paintings. Mr Mutinda placed a demand on me to deliver anything I wanted to, and that forced me to take a long, hard look at myself. This did more than awaken my inner artist, it set me on a journey of selfdiscovery.” *Pauses to reflect* Doing fine art at Kenyatta University was a whole different ordeal. I really worked on my craft and thanks to the lecturer Mr Moses Wanjuki, i improved drastically. I can say I got some my cues from him when it comes to technique and the finer details of proportions and anatomy. In university, we would have exhibitions at the end of very semester and we were given themes that would guide our projects. But because of the pressure of attaining a high marks, I didn’t I gave it my all. There was not passion in there, just a task. However they decided to let us pick themes. I was already deeply fascinated by faces and now it was time to explore that and so I started to flirt with Hyperrealism. It was challenging to say the least, and I was nowhere near as good as I am now. I remember at one point in the middle of doing my ‘water series’ I asked myself ‘What on earth have I gotten myself into’ Hehe. It was very difficult. But with every painting I kept learning and pushing the boundaries of what I could do. And in the process, I developed an appetite for challenges.

East Africa’s Hyper-Realist Sensation Finally Opens Up

EDDIE OCHIENG'S WORK HAS RECEIVED A LOT OF ATTENTION ON SOCIAL MEDIA EARNING HIM THE OPPORTUNITY TO DISPLAY HIS MASTERPIECES WORLDWIDE. A MAGAZINE FOR THE CAREER-PERSON AND ENTREPRENEUR

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I remember during my final project I decided to paint the face of an old man. I enjoyed it. And when the lecturers saw it, they were all impressed. Right then, I knew that Hyperrealism was it for me.

Have you considered doing anything other art forms? Yes. But I don’t know what shape that will take yet.

Have there been any challenges so far? Yes. Social media is how I get people’s attention with my work and sometimes some people can steal the photo and post it as though it was their own and get some mileage from that and there isn’t really much of a way to protect against that. Also some clients can have the best intentions when commissioning for work but when it’s time to paying they ghost you. And it takes a lot of effort and persistence to get your compensation. People don’t really have you high on the list of priorities but what I do is go and see the client in person and together we find a way to ensure that compensation goes higher on the list of priorities, Hehe.

What do you hope your paintings achieves? I’ll answer that this way. One time I was commissioned to do a painting, and once I was done I delivered to the client’s residence. The moment the lady saw the painting I saw her facial expression change immediately. I was wondering if I had done something wrong and my frantic thoughts were interrupted by her tears. It was the purest expression of emotion I had seen. Turns out she was moved beyond words! ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Also another challenge is the cost of materials. In order to attain the best quality finish one need good quality materials and those don’t come cheap.

Is fine art sustainable as a career choice? It is. But it depends more on the artist. The vision and drive that the artist has. Also how badly do you want it. There’s some artists that could be talented but only exhibit their work at school, for example. In art you create your own path. And if you need to be aggressive enough to go out there and let the world know that you exist. That’s completely on you!

What is the art scene in Nairobi like? It’s still developing. The rest of the world is a bit more advanced than Kenya but there’s a silver lining here. This way I get to be among the pioneers of something great in Kenya, Hehe.

What inspires you? The lessons that both my art teachers imparted on me keep me going. Also I love art that makes you think for example the South African painter Ballou, his work got me thinking and forced me to be better.

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@THE_MENTALYST

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revor Maingi is a renowned photographer from Nairobi, Kenya. He is better known under his alias @TJthementalyst. He has a vivid passion and unique sense of style in his photography. This can be seen in how he plays with different colours, tones and moods in his works.

What was your University experience like? I studied aeronautical engineering at East African School of Aviation. After completion, I was in and out of contracts for two years and I realized that it wasn’t working out so I went back to school and studied and did software engineering. While I was working at an agency as a software developer I decided to take a break and figure out if that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Over this break I would find out if to go and get papers and double down on programming or maybe go a different route. How did you make the leap to photography? Photography wasn’t even in the picture when I was on the break. Pauses and waits for the pun to set in. While trying to figure things out, I would take photographs on my phone. And this later turned out to be a defining feature for my brand. How did you get started? For me I stared out of curiosity. I remember there was this IBM competition whose prize was a laptop and a trip to Mombasa but sadly I didn’t make the cut. However, I didn’t stop there. I checked out what the winners

His excellence has earned him a large and diverse following from all over the world and his style has gotten him partnerships with some of the most exclusive brands for example Samsung, Land rover, Airbnb and The Four Points Sheraton, to name a few.

did. I wanted to find out what really set them apart from the rest of us. I wanted to know what it was they did, that the rest of us weren’t doing. And that is how I started out in photography. There was no cool photo or ‘aha moment’ that set me on this path. I just kept at it and persistently asked myself how I could improve.

He isn’t a hobbyist. Photography is his passion and His life’s work. His personal philosophy states that, “the best photograph is the one that I’ll take tomorrow”. In this way he always pushes himself to do better and be better.

When did you make the transition from hobby to career? It was in 2015. This was the year I got my first gig. It was then that I realized that there was more to this than just posting my daily pictures and Instagram.

In this exclusive interview with White Collar we get to understand what drives him.

It was in April, I think, when Samsung reached out. (Note: I stared out as a mobile photographer.)

Tell us about you. My name is Trevor Maingi.I was born and raised in Nairobi all my life. I did Primary school in Nairobi and went to Kiambu High school.

So Samsung reached out and they were like “we want you to continue what you’re doing but using our device.” They were releasing a new device and they wanted me to take it on test drive and give reviews on it.

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There are people who are starting out in the field of photography and they don’t have access to high end camera devices. What would you advice? The advice I always give people whenever they ask me that question is to focus on what they have at the moment. The question I ask them is if I were to give them the best high tech camera would they be able to create with it. Because having the best equipment doesn’t really mean you will produce the best work. I usually say that the equipment is just a tool and what is important is the craft. How does one land an endorsement? What worked out for me is being consistent with my work, and that would mean having a particular style that shows who you are. The problem nowadays is that people shoot anything and everything making it hard for brands to pinpoint what you really do.

For example, one moment you’re shooting weddings and the next you’re doing fashion. Brands would rather work with someone who they feel is already good at a particular style, without having to change their style. Is photography as a career choice sustainable? Yes it is.It’s a tough question to answer though… What I’ve seen though is that people don’t really appreciate art and photography. If you are able to nail a couple of projects you can live off of it. The only problem is that the market doesn't take the arts and photography seriously. Getting to that point that is sustainable is hard but it is possible.

They usually take a higher percentage than the artist. And one can only make money during high traffic times, for example if you took a photo the during a sporting season like the Olympics that’s when you’d generate sales, because at that time there’s a bit more demand for the photo. Would you feel comfortable disclosing how much a project would cost? It depends on the project and its variables. These variables include: • The brand that you’re working with. • Where images are being used.Like, is it on social media only or is it also going on a website. • -How long is the campaign running. These are some of the factors that I use to come up with my base rate.

If you didn’t do photography what would you be doing? I would definitely be a software developer. Why aren’t you pursuing being a software developer? I found something that makes me happy, keeps me on my toes and allows me to express my creativity. Have you used image selling platforms (stock images) to sell your work? No. Stock images don’t work for me.

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Do you see yourself sticking to photography or diversifying to something else? Photography is my main but I also do film. If were to go big it would be on film but would still pursue photography. Are there any examples of your work out there for film and what capacity do you see yourself in film? Yes. I have my work up on my website thementalyst.net I am still figuring out in regards to film as I currently operate in the capacity of DOP (Director of Photography). I basically do everything for myself from shooting to editing but I am hoping to see how things end up. Who do you look up to in film? Christopher Nolan. It’s how he executes his films. At the end of a Nolan film, he leaves you asking many questions. I feel his work challenges the mind. It’s better than just movies that are built around the fame of certain actors. Has photography made you a better person? Yes it has. Before photography I was more of an introvert. Photography has helped me see the world from a different perspective, especially through interacting with more people. Also when your following begins to grow and you start to become a sort of figure

in the community, it makes you have to step up and better.

My photography is my way to let people into my world.

How do you deal with creative block? It works differently with people. You must find out what works for you.

Have your interactions prepared you for business? Yes. My first was through doing business with Samsung through photography. This opened up my eyes to different business aspects. For one, through many interactions, I’ve learned when to say yes and when to decline.

For me I decide either to read or change what I am shooting with. If I was using a camera I switch to my phone. You have to find a way to discipline your mind and change the situation. What motivates you? My motivation comes as inspiration. It can be through my circle of friends that’s constantly pushing me to be better, through music and the other arts. I borrow from all the arts that surround me, especially film. What do you want to achieve with what you post? What do you want the person looking feel or think? I try to trigger an emotion in the person interacting with it. When I achieve that I am happy. What does it do for you? I think of myself as more of a visual aurator than a photographer. So I want my work to speak more for me rather than me speaking on its behalf. I want people to ask questions when looking at my content like; what might he have been thinking? Or why that photo, in that way?

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Did your education prepare you for this? No. What do you wish would have been there to get you on this journey? I would answer that from a different angle. Like with my kids I focus on what draws them be it sports or arts apart from education. Education is important but one should focus on what one is keen on to prevent leaving another person’s dream. What do you think about photography in Kenya and Africa? It’s actually good. The industry is growing as many creatives have come up having a platform where they can tell stories from an African perspective. And where do you see it going in 5 years? Places I can’t imagine. Like having friends get commissioned by Marvel to come up with content is a great feet. Actually 5 Africans were chosen for Black Panther. ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

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anuri Kahiu is an African writer and filmmaker. Born and raised in Nairobi, she is a rising star in the world film. She co-founded AFROBUBBLEGUM, a production house through which she creates her films. Afrobubblegum is a media company that supports, creates and commissions fun, fierce and frivolous African art. Her projects tell the stories that others hesitate to. In 2008 she completed her first feature film ‘From a whisper’ which was based on the event surrounding the twin bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. The film won awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture, the Golden Dhow award at Zanzibar International Film Festival and Best Film at Kalasha, Kenya Film and TV awards. This strengthened her zeal and pushed her to do more. She barely took a break and in 2009 she completed two projects. She did a documentary on the life of Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathai for M-Net’s ‘Great Africans’ Series and also did a short sci-fi film ‘Pumzi’ that screened at Sundance film festival in 2010. The short film won best short at Cannes independent film festival May, 2010 and also took Silver at Carthage film festival in 2010.

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Her style has earned her international acclaim and better still sharpened & improved the image of a whole continent. In 2017 Wanuri was named a TED fellow. Her thought leadership earned her the title of World Economic Forum Cultural leader in 2018. She continued to published her first children’s book ‘The Wooden Camel’. Currently she’s in post-post production on a feature length documentary ‘GER’ (to separate) and is pre-production on a near future Science fiction film set in Nairobi called ‘Rusties’. She is clearly a hard worker. When White Collar reached out to inquire about her personal philosophy she quoted Lorainne Hansberry and said “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. Therefore since I have known all these things, I have found them to be reason enough and - I wish to live.”

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Here’s more from her exclusive interview with White Collar:

Who is Wanuri Kahiu? I’m a mother, a wife and a daughter. I’m also an afro-bubblegum film maker which is someone who celebrates the hope and joy of Africa through art. I feel as though Images of hope and joy are the way through which we transform how we see ourselves and how we interact with the rest of the world.

Tell us more about you.What was your childhood like? I grew up in Nairobi, I have a younger brother and we shared a happy childhood. I have great parents who are super supportive parents but they were a little thrown when I decided to go into film.

Who did you look up to through your formative years? Wangari Mathai. She was the ultimate role model for me. I remember at first I really didn’t understand why people would have such heated debates about her because all she really wanted to do was conserve the environment.

Do you feel education prepared you for what you’re currently doing? Yes. Very much so! Education taught me how to think critically and face challenges. You also learn how to interact with many different people.

How did you find you way to film? At 16 I knew that I wanted to be a film maker. I remember walking into Rafael Tuju’s office when he was looking for a film license to start a tv station and it hit me that people actively create content for television and that was and a career choice. I knew immediately that, that was what I wanted to do with my life.

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Are there any missed opportunities that you wish you leveraged? No. I believe that everything happens for when it’s meant to happen and you just need to trust and let go.

What can you say is the toughest obstacle you’ve faced? Oh wow! So many! So many obstacles that I believe that making a film is in and of itself an obstacle. First you have to fight against what people think about artists, and what they think of artists isn’t great. Also to complete a film project takes so much. Everything from funding to creating the content is quite a challenge. Personally I’d say the most challenging thing for me is my relationship with film. Having to commit to film knowing full well how much of a challenge it is, isn’t easy.

What achievement are you most proud of? My children.

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What is the film ‘Rafiki’ about? Rafiki means friend in Swahili, and often when Kenyans of the same sex are in a relationship, they forgo the ability to introduce their partners, lovers, mates, husbands or wives as they would like, and instead call them “rafiki”. You’ve heard the phrase “Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but in the film ‘Rafiki’ the characters Kena and Ziki long for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. And when love blossoms between them, the two girls are forced to choose between happiness and safety.

How does one fund a film in Africa? You apply everywhere. I mean send your script to as many scriptwriting competitions as possible. You apply to as many funds for films/institutes as possible. There’s many

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international funds available for filmmakers you just have to apply. But the application process is very tedious.

What does it take to premier a film at a festival? At a festival or at Cannes?

Yeah. Can you ighlight the difference for me. Well Cannes Independent film festival is the world’s biggest film festival. There are film giants there, people who filmmakers study and look up to, people who I personally look up to. And to play where the greatest have played is the biggest privilege on earth. To get there requires working consistency. You have to be consistent. By this I mean, the ability to complete a project. For me, The ability to complete a project is success. There are so many people who start projects but very few see them through to the end.

Of course it’s relevant in Africa. It’s relevant to every woman! I’m glad that we’re seeing people speaking up about this. And that the days of men getting away with this kind of behaviour are coming to an end.

How do we approach #MeToo in a way that works? As women we have a responsibility to tell the truth and state facts. Now, there is a greater need and diligence for honesty. We cannot be falsely accusing people. These days people are judged on social media off of accusations and entire reputations are being destroyed.

Do you feel that film and art have made you a better person? Infinitely! Film has caused me to go to different places and met interesting new people from different cultures. In such settings you encounter the most interesting of ideas.

I’ll give example of ‘Rafiki’ . Rafiki took about 7 years to source for funding and another year to shoot. This is what I mean by not giving up and seeing it through to the end. This is perseverance.

What does the film landscape in Africa look like right now? It looks pretty good. Especially in Kenya we have ‘Supa Modo’ an African superhero film. We have ‘Disconnect’ which is an unexpected film. We’re really pushing boundaries and making real films. We’re excited about where we are in the world when it comes to film.

Have you found balance between your career and personal life? No. I don’t know how to yet. But I’m grateful because I have the most supportive husband. My children as well are really supportive and are learning to accept the direction our family is taking.

In America we’ve seen film stars speak out about #MeToo. Is it relevant in Africa?

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Comedic Creativity WITH SETH GOR

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he arts aren’t credited with much in Africa. They’re still developing and footing as means of genuinely capturing the story and mood of Africa.

However today we look at the arts as a means of refuge. Comedy is strictly essential. Life is more palatable if we can laugh at it. Seth Gor is an up and coming comedian based in Nairobi, Kenya. He tries to tell Kenyan stories and social truths in a way that will inspire laughter.

His comedy has grown drastically since its conception in 2015. And together with many other local comedians has helped Kenya keep her optimism through a slightly topsy-turvy election year. We get to talk To Seth about his craft in the following interview:

Tell us about your background and a bit more about what was your schooling experience was like? My name is Seth Omuga Gor. Well, I went to St Georges primary school and later on transitioned to Upperhill high school. I’m currently in the University of Nairobi pursuing my bachelor's in Economics and statistics. Uuhm... My schooling experience I could say was one of the best, especially in highschool. I got to experience what being a highschooler should feel like both for a student and a growing young man. I learnt so much and did so much.

Did you feel it prepared you for what you’re currently doing? No. It didn't prepare me for what I currently do. I was those serious kids when it came to my studies. I actually wanted to be an Engineer professionally, but things didn't go as planned. And I found myself in entertainment while studying Economics and statistics. Life is just funny that way sometimes.

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When did you know you were going pick Comedy? That has to be before I joined university. To be more specific, that was during that waiting period after clearing high school. I spent a lot of time on the internet and noticed Vine. One day I came across king Bach’s vines. I found them hilarious, not all, just some. I thought to myself, well, I can do this but in a way Kenyans can understand and relate to. I started doing vines for fun. After sometime some people started noticing what I was doing. And I saw potential in it. So I decided to stick to it.

Were you the class clown? I’ve always been the class clown. Hehe I would always get myself and my friends in trouble. Go for suspensions and so one.

Where do you draw inspiration from? I draw my inspiration from real life experiences and activities. That means I have to be very keen and observant about what goes on around me. However I try to also create from the ideas I personally find to be funny. Some of the skits I do are off the top of my head.

What has been the role of social media on your journey? Social media gave me a platform to showcase my talent. Many people on the platforms could relate to the comedy and ended up sharing it with their friends who in turn followed us directly. And that’s how we ended up with such a large following on social media.

There are a lot of stories about creative not getting paid their full sum? Please comment. Well I'd partly blame the creatives themselves. Sometimes people become very desperate and they accept an amount that is waaay below what their work is actually worth. This should never be the case.

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You also need to be smart about things and develop a way to deal with clients. Make sure you sing up a contract, a legal binding document before doing any work.

How does one monetize comedy? Brands need numbers OK. So first of all you have to grow your numbers before you can convince them that you can promote their products and it'll reach the target audience.

Tell us more about Vines of Africa. Vines of Africa is an entertainment / content production company. We use humour to convey our message, we want to spearhead the change in the Kenyan entertainment scene, bringing in new fresh ideas. We’re always thinking global, But acting local! We do social media adverts and promotions for various clients as well. Creative and very subliminal product placement is something we also do quite well. Our videos are excellent marketing tools because given our reach and our style most end up going viral

What is the intended effect of your comedy on your audience? Our intended effect of our comedy on our audience is not to only make them laugh.. But spark some emotion in them.

What’s next for Seth? Well Seth is Vines of Africa and Vines Of Africa is Seth and some other talented colleagues of mine, Henry Wahome, George Kimani and Sharon Mwangi. What's next for vines of Africa? We want to step our game higher to even creating movies and TV shows. ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊


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frica has always had image issues. The rest of the world doesn’t really know what to expect when going to Africa but Africans know Africa. When asked about the misrepresentation experienced in Africa Lupita Nyong’o said “We come from a continent of great wealth but it’s also a continent that has been assaulted, abused and exploited in many ways. What colonialism did was change our narrative, and now our global narrative is one of strife & poverty and the wealth of the continent is very seldom seen on a global scale.”And Africans are beginning to wake up to the fact that no one will change the narrative for us, we have to do it ourselves. But who does this task fall to? Well, a narrative is a story therefore this responsibility falls on storytellers. The writers, poets, artists and musicians are the ones to carry this responsibility. They are the voice of one generation that simultaneously lights

the way for the next. Because of the ability to re-tell the African story we have seen some progress into Science with countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Egypt launching their own advanced Space and research programmes. Afro-futurism is one of the ways in which we tell a different story about Africa. It focuses on expressing authentically African themes with a hyper-futuristic concept. Jacque Njeri is an avid afro-futuristic Digital Artist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work is reminiscent of the surrealist Salvador Dali. She depicts a future where the Maasia warrior touches the stars. In a one on one Interview she opens up about her journey so far, creativity and so much more.

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art in high school and decided to study art and Design at the University of Nairobi. To be honest I never thought I’d end up doing this. But in retrospect everything sort of pieces together and all these random things seem to some together to make sure I ended up where I am.

Why graphic design of all the arts? Who is Jacque Njeri? That’s one of the toughest questions to answer. Amm, I’m an artist, a lover of music, a lover of human beings. I am so curious about people and social connections. I’m a last born, but coz of the very wide age gap, I grew up almost as an only child.

How does one become a Graphic artist? For me it started pretty early. I remember in primary school I’m the one who’d be given the task of drawing maps or like the digestive system. I began to notice that I’m a very visual person. I loved the newspapers and magazines more for the images than the stories. I also loved interesting, provocative and unconventional advertisements. I remember stumbling onto my brother’s art books and from there, there was no stopping me. I pursued

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After I graduated from University, I did graphic design and went into advertising. I had always really loved creative adverts and for a moment I thought that was what I wanted to do.

Art requires someone to be comfortable with Vulnerability. How do you approach that? It takes a lot for an artist to actually put their work out there. It’s serious to the point that it can even be crippling. Personally its tough as well. But I constantly remind myself of this quote ‘for a photographer, the first 10,000 photographs you take will be the worst of

your career’ and try to apply it in my field. The more I do the better I’m gonna get. I’m always moving onto the next project and making sure that I’m consistently growing. I’m also very unashamed about criticism. I’ve developed a thick skin because I grew up in an environment where I saw criticism used constructively. My Father used it to motivate me. The team of creatives that I work with also won’t spare me the truth.

Have you had any obstacles so far? Yes. But in some ways the challenges I’ve faced pushed me towards art. I grew up very sheltered, as most last-born children do, and so the transition to high school was a bit harder than I expected. Boarding

A MAGAZINE FOR THE CAREER-PERSON AND ENTREPRENEUR


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school is always challenging at first and I gravitated towards art. I’d draw and spend time in the art class because it felt familiar. After graduating and finally finding job I had a hard time balancing my job and my art. I was under contract and I didn’t have the creative freedom that I craved so much. This was challenging because the art I wanted to create was a priority for me. And In the occasion when I had an exhibition I’d be bound by contract and the mandatory number days that I had to be in the office. I also feel like Creatives in Kenya lack a body that can represent us and help us navigate business. We need to have talent managers who understand how to manage motivate us. I personally feel like I’d be able to get a lot more done if I had some help with talent management. There needs to be a whole support structure around art and intellectual property. Some changes have to be made to policy because this is what puts food on the table for a lot of creatives.

In the event of creative block how do you stay committed and inspired? Someone once described me as an all or nothing kind of person and I thought that was accurate. When the creative juices aren’t flowing, I take time off and just try something else for a while. I also draw from other arts, Like I said before, I’m very visual. So music videos from artists like Kamau, Anderson Paak and Benjamin Clementine really move me. But further still from external sources of inspiration, there’s also an internal drive. I’m constantly thinking or asking myself ‘how we get more women into this creative space’. And now that I’m here what could I do to be an example.

A MAGAZINE FOR THE CAREER-PERSON AND ENTREPRENEUR

Let’s talk about the use of substances to heighten creativity. Interesting! There are some creatives who do, but personally I am so afraid of drugs. A lot of people imply that I must’ve been on something to create the content that I do, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I started on the Maasai project on a Wednesday morning when I was particularly bored and thought that the concept would be really cool to do. I think that creativity comes from the artist and that I have the ability to challenge myself and Imagine. I’d ask fellow creatives to challenge themselves as well.

Is what you do sustainable? When handled correctly, yes! Again, there needs to be a better support structure around art in Kenya and Africa. I’ve seen people make a living off of art and go to the point where they could purchase a beach front house. However, just off of self-drive, I’ve been able to sell a collection for a fair pay-off.

How much? Haha. In the range of hundreds of thousands. That’s all I’ll say.

What’s the end game for an artist? It depends on the artist and his unique path. Some people die artists others go back to formal employment. While other stay in the art scene as curators and gallery owners. However personally, once I’ve explored art to the fullness of my potential and learnt a lot, then I’d want to teach art and help mould the next generation of artists. I was those serious kids when it came to my studies. I actually wanted to be an Engineer professionally, but things didn't go as planned. And I found myself in entertainment while studying Economics and statistics. Life is just funny that way sometimes.

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TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF My name is Tunji. I’m an artist. I’m 23 year olds, and from Coast. I’m currently studying computer science at University.

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airobi’s latest Hip Hop sensation Tunji, made a splash recently with his song ‘Mat za Ronga’. He touched on a part of Nairobi that people relate to. (There’s always a bit of competition between matatus/buses from different neighbourhoods based on creative graffiti, Sound systems and general appeal.) He has a unique sound that goes beyond any musical trend and his play on words and rhymes are skilfully crafted. There’s a hint of feeling behind his lyrics and that makes them more real for the listeners. Some say that his ‘style and feel’ are reminiscent of E-sir, one of the Hip Hop Godfathers in Kenya’s music industry. His ascent has been nothing short of remarkable. Many in the music industry gravitated towards him, from media powerhouse Adelle Onyango who named him one of her favourite rappers, to Rap Guru Kaligraph jones who joined Tunji on the ‘Mat Za ronga’ remix.

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HAVE YOUR STUDIES PREPARE YOU FOR MUSIC? No. I wouldn’t say that they have prepared me for this.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW IT WAS MUSIC FOR YOU? I didn’t really know. It wasn’t something that I planned. I’ve just loved music ever since I was a kid. I loved doing music and making music. It’s difficult to pinpoint a moment when I knew I was going to make music. It has always been in me.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE THROUGH YOUR MUSIC? For myself, I hope to leave a legacy. I want to reach out to as many people as I can with my vibe and allow them to connect with my particular style of music. My music speaks to certain things and I’d rather have people listen to that rather than general music that doesn’t have direction.

It’s evident that there’s a bright future ahead for this star.

For my listerners. Just Bliss Hehe.

He gives peek behind the curtain on this exclusive interview:

I want then to be happy when my song comes on because they enjoy the music. I want them to feel uplifted and to feel something when my song plays. I want them to feel the vibe from the music.


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WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR A NEW ARTIST IN THE KENYAN MUSIC INDUSTRY?

HOW DOES A YOUNG KENYAN ARTIST EARN A LIVING?

I wouldn’t say it’s easy because in anything new youre doing you have to learn the ropes first. That’s always interesting.

Through the music, Haha! The Music!

I also don’t want to say that It’s challenging because nothing worth while comes easy. I believe that challenge, that grind is the price you pay. It its not challenging then it’s not worth it. I don’t want to say it’s bad or it’s good. I’ll settle for comme ci comme ça.

WHAT’S BEEN THE YOUR LOWEST POINT SO FAR? Just promoters acting shady. But that’s what they do. It’s easy.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR HIGHEST POINT? The way people received the music and the way people appreciate the music. I didn’t expect that at all. I was so surprised to see people vibe with the music and relate to it.

LET’S TALK ABOUT TILO? WHAT DREAMS DO YOU HAVE TO TILO? Tilo is a music production house I formed with my producer Elvis. My dream to Tilo is that we take it world-wide. I want to make it a house hold name. After I’m long gone I want Tilo and infa to still be around. That’s going to be my legacy.

A MAGAZINE FOR THE CAREER-PERSON AND ENTREPRENEUR

The more music you put out there. The more shows you get to perform at. Through the paid features that you do, when other artists want to have you on their tracks. There’s also endorsements from various companies. All these sponsorships, endorsements and so on come from doing music and doing it well. Your music has to be popping. But you have to stay sharp. It’s a the music industry. It’s a business. And you always have to position yourself well for business.

IS MUSIC AS A CAREER CHOICE SUSTAINABLE? Yes. I’d say yes. I’m better off now that I was before. I can pay my bills and take care of myself. I can buy things that I definitely couldn’t before. For me it’s sustainable.

WHEN WILL WE SEE AN ALBUM? Not in the near future, hehe.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR TUNJI? Dash! (He referenced to the song he recently released called Dash) ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

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A MAGAZINE FOR THE CAREER-PERSON AND ENTREPRENEUR

White Collar Magazine: 004(The Creatives issue): Wanuri Kahiu  
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