Azziad Nasenya is a popular content creator and actress who barged onto our phone screens three years ago. Today, she is one of the most celebrated creative influencers across Africa.
In what may seem like a lifetime ago, those pandemic years, Azziad was minding her own dancing business when she posted her video dancing to Femi One’s Utawezana’ on TikTok back in 2020. Through this, the Utawezana Challenge was born.
The young content creator, who was still pursuing her Journalism studies at the government-run Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC), grew fast. She quickly became a social brand all products wanted to work with.
Fast forward to February this year and the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts, and Sports created the Talanta Hela initiative to empower creatives and sports personalities.
Azziad’s name was among those listed under the Creatives. And her name was once again the subject of public debate. Her detractors questioned her appointment as she was just a ‘mere TikToker’, a young girl ‘who knew little about the creative industry’.
The issue of the gazettement of the Talanta Hela Technical committees has since grown beyond Azziad. Its legality has been challenged in court.
That notwithstanding, the quest for Kenya to have an organised and vibrant creative sector is an idea whose time has come.
As we keep our eyes on the ball, the question should be how best the industry should initiate, and execute, processes that bring together a resilient creative industry.
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And why this? Even though artistes can now see their art begin to pay, the truth is that the sector has been ailing for years and key talents have suffered due to lack of structures – especially policies – in a space where opportunities loom even with the potential to play a role in boosting the much-needed economic recovery of the country.
Kenya has one of the most dynamic, vibrant and transformed culture, music, arts and heritage sector in Africa.
Our unique music, film, theatre, pageantry, fashion and design, sculpture, bead work and painting, all contribute to a mosaic that embellishes what is, culturally and artistically, Kenya. These are all currently domiciled under the Ministry of Sports, Youth Affairs and the Arts.
Kenya’s creative sector’s evolution is attributable to many factors including the expanded digital environment, characterised by increased consumption of creative works, improved Internet infrastructure, better legislative framework, and a growing global interest in Africa’s creative sector.
Collectively, these factors have created opportunities for diverse revenue streams, especially for the youth who make the biggest number in the population and whose innovative and creative talents have thousands seeking entrepreneurship opportunities for the betterment of their livelihoods.
The contribution of the industry to the country’s economy was projected at Sh2 billion, annually according to a government report released in 2020 – and that was just on music.
The passing into law of the legacy bill Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2019 by the last Parliament was a tremendous step towards protecting the economic rights of artists and record producers against online piracy and illegal use of their works.
This, and other policies, sets the right tone in helping the industry to achieve the goal of improving revenues and consolidating gains so far realised.
The creative sector has the potential to employ thousands of Kenyans, most of whom have embraced the new careers and opportunities that come with it.
Gone are the days when traditional 8-5 office jobs looked more prestigious and lucrative; music, film, theatre, pageantry, fashion and design, sculpture, bead work and painting as well as other forms of arts and new innovative ventures have become the new cool.