14 September, 2007

Re-Branding Kenya National Music Festival

Just the other day i happened to muse over a KBC programme airing past kenya national music festival competitions.It suddenly downed on me that little or less has been done to re- brand this event so as to market and showcase the richness and diversity of Kenyan Culture. Whereas the potential of this event is tremendous!

In Nairobi National School i frequently participated in the festivals by virtue of being in the Nairobi School Band and also due to the fact that the festival would bring together a host of girl schools such as Kenya High(Our Sister school),Precious Blood Riruta, Moi Nairobi Girls,Pangani girls,State house girls, Loretto Msongari etc etc. The Music festivals were austere occassions and very entertaining at it.Alot of talent was normally displayed,nurtured and brought to fruition due to the music festivals.

Unfortunately majority in the audience as has been and continues to be primary,secondary ,university and college students together with their teachers and invigilators.Majority of the Kenyan Citizenry have left this affair to be merely an educational discourse. That is a sad factor indeed!While the events to an ordinary Kenyan may just be normal, usual or boring,on the other hand to a tourist it can be fascinating, intriguing and even attractive.

While embracing modernity and taking into consideration that the world has become a global village.It has become necessary that we harness such events,identify their potential, weaknesses, threats and strengths and then enhance and explore this strengths.The Music festial is certainly one such strength we need to exploit to showcase our beautiful culture!

It would be readily welcome if the Kenyan Tourism Board ,the Ministry of Education,stakeholders in the tourism industry and the Ministry of Culture, heritage and home affairs could take ample advantage of the music festivals and market this as a tourism event. The money generated could also be used to enhance the appeal, management and conduct of the Kenya Music Festivals so as to even attract and appeal to the common mwananchi.At the same time this can create an intense love of Kenya and its heritage among the tourists who attend this annual event.

Futhermore the money generated could be used to award scholarships to the winners enabling them pursue their talents and interests in this arena.Create a future and a source of income that can be marketed abroad. We need to see more upcoming groups and talents reminiscent of Muungano Choir, Jabali Africa,Kayamba Africa ...et cetera.The festivals need to embrace the ambit of not only entertaining but also empowering the locals!

The spill over effects of such aggresive marketing to the locals,taxi drivers, hotels and tourism resorts, craft sellers,foreign exchange earnings would definately be immense.I t is increasingly evident that promotion of cultural tourism in africa has taken a dynamic angle with more and more inputs being directed to this area.Some of the events and festivals being massively promoted include the Reed dance in Swaziland(raking in massive foreign exchange)the Ashanti Kente Festival in Ghana,the festival in the desert in Timbuktu Mali and the Sauti Ya Busara festival in stonetown Zanzibar. The Kenya National Music festival should as a matter of extreme urgency join this ranks.

To make a wider appeal the organising secretariat should fast track the attempts to make the music festivals not only a regional festival but an international event!It would also be highly desirable that the management of this event also focus on embracing the benefits of internet advertising and or make live intenet feeds of such events for consumption of the international market particurlaly those Kenyans out there who are proud of their cultural heritage and seek to show this to their friends. Infact the winners gala should be digitized and sold as DVD pack to the already willing and eager market.

We have alot of cultural capital which is under utilised and unexploited as it necessarily should be.The Government and Kenya Tourism Board should take a cue from the Swazi,s who have capitalised on their reed dance and in the consequence attracted international attention and generated a lot of tourism and foreign exchange for their country.The Music festivals are not just a school event they are our highly precious natural heritage. Let us be proud to enhance and cultivate it's international appeal!


  1. good idea, but you keeo saying the govt, the ministry, the board. i think this is an opportunity for a private entepreneur

  2. I agree with you,
    After high school I tried to attend the drama/music festivals but only went to one. After that I'd only know about it weeks after it was over.
    It would be nice to go watch the beautiful, well synchronised dances,, even those that don't win usually give a good performance.



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