Artists in the Counties: An Opportunity to Get Involved
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.