Talent search ends as youth go for entrepreneur, mentorship training

The inaugural Kisumu County Talent Search managed to identify young artists whose potential is waiting to be explored.

The event, which attracted about 600 participants, saw the overall winner, Collins Otieno, a dancer, take home Sh100,000.

The 20-year-old Otieno impressed the judges with his solo contemporary dance.

Besides the cash prize, Otieno also won an air ticket, courtesy of Safarilink, to Masai Mara for a holiday. He also won shopping vouchers during the gala that was attended by Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o at the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground last weekend.

Otieno said he was not sure that he will emerge the winner in the hotly-contested competition.

“I am excited and have no words to express my joy,” smiled Otieno.

A group of five dubbed The Black Dimension from Kisumu Central, were awarded Sh75,000 after they came second with their contemporary dance on women in leadership.

James Athembo from Nyando, who was the second runner-up bagged Sh50,000 for his skill in playing seven drums on stage.

The winners will undergo a three-month training on entrepreneurship and mentorship to boost their talent to earn income.

County Executive Member for Tourism, Culture and Sports Achie Alai, said the eight-week talent search was a success, despite some challenges. Ms Alai said that after identifying gaps and challenges of hosting a weekly event at the sub-county level, the department will roll out the talent search at the ward level next year.

“Sub-counties are vast and it takes a lot of travel to the performance arena, which proved to be a challenge,” she explained.

Dubbed ‘I am Kisumu Talent Search,’ the initiative sough to identify talent in a region that has produced many artists, such as comedians Eric Omondi and Jalang’o, as well as a host of musicians.

Prof Nyong’o, a poet and theatre enthusiast, said he was impressed by the talents that were showcased. The auditions attracted 600 participants across the county, with only 141 qualifying to compete at the grand finale.

Speaking at the Gala awards ceremony, the governor praised the initiative, saying the county has immense talent.

“The talent which has been lying idle in the villages has been woken up and ready to be nurtured to greater levels to benefit society. As a county, we will not look back. We will support these young talented youth,” Nyong’o said.

At the same time, he hit out at critics, dismissing them as harbouring ill political motives and out to disrupt development projects.

Nyong’o appealed to the residents to support the county development agenda and assured youth of talent search programmes in the years to come.

He said some participants in the just-concluded competition will perform during the 2021 Africities Conference to be held in Kisumu.

“Culture is the first thing we must develop, for a people without a culture are a people without future,” he noted.

The Department of Tourism and Culture initiated talent search in all the seven sub-counties had categories such as music, dance, drama elocution, visual arts, creative writing and freestyle.

Last week, those who performed at the grand finale underwent a three-day boot camp mentorship programme with 15 trainers on board.

Among those feted was Faith Kasandi, a Standard Seven pupil at St Joseph Seme Primary School with a poem on Huduma Namba.

“When the talent search was launched, I thought of taking up a challenge to script a poem which could dissect the whole issue of the registration, demystify the myths and inform the public about its benefits,” she said.

Duncan Amika, 25, from Ahero, showcased his prowess at using charcoal and cotton to depict the African legacy.

The graduate of nutrition and dietetics from Great Lakes University was among 141 participants mentored at the talent search’s three-day boot camp. “I observed how our culture is slowly eroding and was compelled to preserve it in this visual art,” said Amika.

He said that after graduation, he chose to nurture a talent that he had abandoned at the age of nine years.  

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