Friday 23rd

There have been internet problems so blog contributions will be as and when I’m afraid.

Crumbs…..today marked the end of the first workshop collaboration with Kenyatta University and was extremely hard work for all the students involved, who were absolutely amazing by the way! The focus was all about editing and preparing for presentation. The atmosphere in the hall was intense as videos; podcasts and a photography exhibition were shaped by the stressed participants. Subjects ranging from tribes & tribalism; the poverty gap (including a digital story on the same subject); domestic violence and ways in which community media centres can support communities to deal with these issues; faces of community & a 40 minutes radio show podcast on community media centres were produced. Around 40 students from Media Studies & Performing Arts & Film Technology courses collaborated for the first time on subjects of which they had limited prior knowledge.

However, no presentations are possible without the necessary pre-production efforts and these took place on the previous day. This started with some planning meetings following on from day 1 and an early lunch. The collaborators were then transported to the town of Ngong where they were greeted the District Commissioner, who I’d just had a meeting with to outline the history and aims of CM4K. He pledged his and the administration’s support for the development of a community media centre in Ngong. After this we were accompanied by the Chief, who nowadays are technically assistants to the DC (in turn answerable directly to the President), to a meeting with renowned author and Swahili Scholar – Professor Wallah Bin Wallah. I found his ‘motivational’ style of address interesting and the Kenyan students clearly loved him whilst still smarting from the challenges his books had set them during various stages of examination. In the main, I think the Brighton students found his jumping from Kwaswahili to English a little difficult to follow at times, which was a shame because he had much of interest and import to share with young scholars about culture, identity and their aspirations. I was asked to speak briefly after him so I chose 4 of his main points and employed them to the future of CM4K and their role in it, which I think was appreciated. He must have liked it as he awarded me one of the medallions he presents to students who show excellence of individual thought. So yay me! 😉

We then visited the Ngong township primary school where the focus was primarily poverty, education and community media centres in Ngong. This was a very interesting visit which set my mind racing about how community media and a centre could help community organisers and campaigns. Whilst we attended this meeting some of the group visited a nearby children’s home, which resonated with my own personal experience and which I was sad to have missed.

After that we had a brief visit to the top of the Ngong hills, some of the students are posting pics of this spectacular if a tad windy view of the Rift Valley as the sunset……and so on to the presentations and the feedback session. I will leave the students to explain what they did and their experiences but it is safe to say that I am extremely proud of all of them (both universities). Yes there were technically difficulties but in such a short timeframe, who would expect different? That said, the end products were fantastic examples of story-telling and collaborations by young people.

The feedback session made this old community activist well-up as students from both side shared their joy at the experience and their determination to continue down this path. For a man of my years it is very touching to see young people share my vision for community media with a determination and tenacity. I don’t want to dwell on this for long but I am allowing myself a moment of pride and pleasure. In addition, Kenyatta University are eager to develop a collaboration and are considering introducing community media into their curriculum and inviting me to teach a course. Early days but I think CM4K and our vision is going from strength to strength. It has been the most worthwhile of workshops and if it possible I seem to enjoy each annual visit to Kenya more. Well it is late now and there is a beer waiting for me before bed. Tomorrow we are off to a community media chapatti forum in Ruiru with our partners from the Focus Youth Initiative programme.

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