This morning, the director of the Kenya Cultural Centre (KCC) that incorporates the Kenya National Theatre (KNT) Mr Odero Aghan accompanied the new Sports, Culture and Arts Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario and the PS Madam Leah Gwiyo to see the Nairobi County governor Dr. Evans Kidero over an impending threat to auction the place.
The three went to try and save the national arts monument from being auctioned after this national institution was placed on the auctioneer’s list for failing to pay the land rates totaling upto KES 412, 000, 000 . After extensive discussion it was agreed that Nairobi City County rescinds its order and removes KCC/KNT from Auctioneer’s list.
Kidero acknowledged that the KCC/KNT as a national monument and “Creative Soul and Identity of Kenyan Nationhood.” He sees it as a blessing for Nairobi County to host the Cultural Centre that is poised to take lead in the Creative Industry and Cultural Tourism—two possible net earners for the County in the immediate future.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wario is sorting out the waiver and exemption of the national monument from any previous and future land rate caveats as he embarks on creating a Centre of cultural excellence and international repute there.
However, it must be noted that it is indeed a shame that a national centre like this could be exposed to imminent danger like this. In a way, it is an indicator of the kind of neglect the culture and arts sector has suffered in the country.
It took close to 40-years after attaining independence for the country to develop a cultural policy and even after it was launched in 2009, little has been done to implement it and after the Constitution of Kenya 2010 recognised culture in the entire document and specifically Article 11, little has been done to re-align the policy to the new constitutional dispensation.
While the Nairobi county Governor and Cabinet Secretary’s action is laudable, we must make sure we never get back to this. After all even the Constitution “recognises culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenya people and nation. (Art 11 (1)).”
The county wheels continues to turn. Most governors have named their Cabinets and if it were not for the gridlock that has come with the demand by the Members of the County Assemblies to get more money; with some downing their tools, most Counties would be having a functioning Executive.
The slow pace notwithstanding, the wheels are turning and citizens getting opportunities to shape their counties. The latest opening that directly speaks to artists is in the call to design various things that will start giving the counties their character and identity.
Marsabit and Nakuru counties are the latest in this with well publicized adverts inviting Kenyans to take part in the competition to design their flags, coat of arms and the public seal. The County Government Act 2012 Section (4) on County Symbols requires that “every county shall enact legislation prescribing the following symbols: (a) The County Flag; (b) The County Coat of Arms and Logo, and; (c) The County Public Seal.
In the Acts, “the County Executive shall develop the symbol of the County through a consultative process for approval by the County Assembly by legislation. The County Legislation enacted under section (1) shall provide for use of the County symbols in the same manner as provided for in the national flag, emblems and the names Act (cap99). A county symbol shall not be the same as, or be a likeness or similarity to a national symbols in accordance with section four (4) of the said Act.”
This is an important undertaking that will create a picture of how counties will be perceived by their own citizens and the rest of the country. They will help give the counties some form of identity and a lot is being asked of those who want to take part.
Marsabit county asks all who will want to take part in the competition to bear in mind that the “designs shall reflect the history, social-cultural and economic aspirations of Marsabit County and should be unique and capture their diversity.”
Nakuru county have limited it to the residents but opened it to students too. If a student wins the cash prize, they will get it through their guardian or school.
The prize money various in these two counties. Whereas Nakuru offers KES 100, 000 for the winner of the coat of arms, flag and pubic seal, Marsabit offers KES 40, 000 for the winner and KES 20, 000 for the runner’s up.
The flag, coat of arms and even the public seal are symbols that will describe the counties in many ways. Artists work on this kind of environment every day and this is without doubt an opportunity to not only participate in the devolution process but also make their practice count as the country embraces the new dispensation.
After the protest note, I followed up the matter with a phone and the matter has now been clarified.
The Media Council had two sets of advertisements. One that was in the papers and also on their home page captured all the other categories except the culture and the arts on (MEDIA AWARDS ADVERT MEDIA AWARDS ADVERT). Then there is one in their download segment that has the category (Media Awards Entry Form FEBRUARY 2013).
It looks like the arts have been incorporated after all. Many thanks to Victor Bwire. The awards are open to journalists accredited by the Council.