"Last year, we had a couple of teachers honoured with Order of the Grand Warrior, and we thank Your Excellency," festival chairman Chokera Kahora told President Kibaki during this yearâs winners state concert at the State House last Friday.
As a result, winning at the festivals is a matter of life and death â sort of.
Schools have big budgets for the fete. The colour and glamour today show how much schools are willing to spend for the glamorous honour.
The dÃcor has moved from simple backdrops to detailed sets that compete with film.
"In the winning items this year, the performers engaged with the set making it part and parcel of the story," explains Prof Christopher Odhiambo, the senior most adjudicator at the festival.
Costumes have become another craze at the festivals.
Producers have moved away from the basic wear to define character. Instead, spectacle has become central to costumes where the audience is wowed once the curtains open.
One of the masters of this art is director Cleophas Malalah whose direction, Gold Less by Riara Springs won this yearâs secondary play trophy.
In this play where an individualâs selfishness, insensitivity and greed is exemplified, the characters wore full military gear with commanders having medals lined on their fitting blazers; and miners in full protective gear wearing orange overalls to deepen meaning and roles.
"Contrary to common belief that costumes are expensive, I invest just between Sh25,000 and 30,000 in costumes but work with talented designers to come up with such impressive products," says Malalah.
College winners Kenya Institute of Mass Communication with County Edition 411 whose message on leadership and integrity resonated with the audience, displayed the same trend â trendy costumes.