How to Take Africa from Zero to Hero: Entertainment!

Part9 of the 10 things I wish I knew before I left Africa

Hello Hello Hello,

First up, to all who have been trying to click on the navigation bar at the top of the page and wondering why it doesn’t work….that’s my bad! I have been slow getting the tech completed but by the next post it’ll be done, otherwise feel free to circumcise me for the second time.

Bright bulb

In today’s post, a short one for me, I want to share with you my dreams and goals. I don’t do this for egotistical reasons, though those are nice, but rather for two reasons:

1) To see how many people out there think like I do and feel like I feel.

2) To spark positive thought.

The Problem: What Occupies Our Minds

As I have said in previous posts, I really believe that what we do, what we spend majority of our time thinking about and who we spend our time with is extremely important if not the most important thing in determining not only who you are now but who you’ll be in future. So let’s narrow it down. Let’s have a look at what we spend majority of our time thinking about.

Television, Movies and Music vs Education

My honest belief is that the two most important things that determine what we think about on a regular basis are the people around us and what they think about and the type of entertainment we consume. I honestly think that for all the talk about education and how important it is to the development of a society what is much more important is the heroes and role models people pick up from the tube, the radio and the cinema.

The idiot box herself

They Sell Us the Dream

This is because what entertainment media does, for the sake of simplicity I will throw personal development media in this category as well, is it sells us the dream. I will put it like this:

Who do you think about more? Taye Diggs and Nia Long from the Best Man or your high school teacher in class 8 who used to declare that he was the greatest maths teacher in the world. Who do you want to be more like? Who do you emulate in the way you walk, the you talk, the way you relate to the opposite sex?

When you go to work to ‘get that paper’ are you doing so so that you can follow in the footsteps of your favorite lecturer and study the effects of macroeconomic reforms upon the inflation rate or are you doing it so that you can afford to have a coffee with your girls and reconvene the MASC club like the girls from Sex and the City.

We need our heroes so that we have something that gets us out of bed in the morning, someone that we are working hard to be like. And I can assure you that a lot more of my heroes came from these forms of media than did from the education system, as great as my teachers were.

Where Are Our Heroes?

Quick question

So quick question. I am in my early 20s: Name me one native African in my age group who is:

a) Well known

b) Worth emulating

c) We celebrate and cherish often

d) Doesn’t play a sport or sing????…………………….It’s OK I’ll wait.

I think that this fact is way more tragic than complaints about how we are portrayed in the media as people who live in jungle villages and speak in clicks. Where is our success magazine? Where is our movie of the week about the African who overcame all the odds to do something great?

We all know people who fulfill the above criteria. People like Rachel Wambugu or people who landed abroad with absolutely nothing and managed to rise on up without even understanding the English language.

The Media Exists, But……

Watoto Children's Choir

Now I have absolutely no doubt that media such as this already exists all over the place. In fact I have seen a lot of it. There are documentaries such as Sons of Lwala, movies such as Lumumba choirs such as Watoto children’s choir and blogs and publications and groups all over the place where Africans get together to celebrate when we do good. However my problems (this post is so negative, apologies it’s all leading somewhere) with this types of media are two:

How Much of this Media is FUBU

Have you noticed how behind a lot of these great initiatives there is always European or American funding and/or marketing? I absolutely love and salute these guys who are willing to care enough for their fellow human being like that, however: That doesn’t do much for my faith in my African people. Can’t we create our own inspirational movies and documentaries and market them to ourselves? Don’t we spend time with each other and understand each other to know the types of stories we need to hear and have enough education to know how to get these movies, songs and television shows made and distributed in house.

It’s a Tough Job But Someone Has to Do It

So without anyone asking me to I have decided to take on the job. I pretty much want to help take Africa to a place where my kids- listen to me, in my early 20s talking about ‘my kids’ -will be able to turn on the television and be inspired by hearing the latest story of triumph over adversity from another region of Africa.

Aunty Fidelis; great environmentalist

I am going to create an Africa where my little niece goes to the movie to marvel at the beauty and grace of some once-an-unknown-African actress and her remarkably accurate portrayal of some also-once-unknown-African grassroots activist. Meanwhile my little boy is turning on his ipod to learn the secrets to success from a black man who started out poor, ignorant and destructive and fought his demons all the way to the mountaintop.

This blog is pretty much my first step in that direction. A blog that is intended to entertain, educate and inspire. That friends is one of my missions in life. Who is with me?

As always if you feel a stirring somewhere within yourself as you read this, leave a comment below or contact me and let me know what’s happening.

Be blessed& bless others,


PS: This blog has a lot of simplifications and generalizations for the sake of clarity and staying on point. As we continue on with this blog we’ll slowly add more details and paradoxes and contradictions but not today, it’s the first day of the weekend and we all know they were not made for thinking……………

Gotta love the passion in the drums

PS2: I post this for no other reason than the fact that Eric Wainaina is an artistic genius. Make sure you check out both his albums at Itunes. Enjoy (Lyrics taken from the Eric Wainaina website)

Eric Wainaina – Dunia Ina Mambo

icon for podpress  Eric Wainaina - Dunia Ina Mambo (This song is deep) [4:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Shetani akamwuliza Mtakatifu Petero
The Devil asked St. Peter
Umewahi kuangalia huko chini (aye aye)
When was the last time you looked down at earth
Mtu masikini akiiba mkate
When a poor man steals a loaf of bread
Atavalishwa pingu miaka mnne
He goes to jail for four years
Lakini tajiri anayezorotesha umasikini wa nchi nzima (mwajijua)
But a rich man who causes the poverty of a whole nation
Anachekacheka na hakimu
Laughs with the judges
Baadaye wapo wote pamoja mikahawani
Later they meet for a drink


Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Kweli ina mambo

Truly it is crazy

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Nyuma ya kila mlango

Behind every closed door

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Shetani akamwuliza Mtakatifu Petero

The Devil asked St. Peter

Ni dini gani inayoendeleza chuki (mambo bado)

What religion spreads hatred

Kwa ajili ya bidii ya bin adam

Because of the efforts of the children of adam

Mimi sina kazi

I am without work

Warumi wachukia wakristo wengine

The Roman Catholics hate the Protestants

Wengine wachukia Waislamu (bure bilash)

The Protestants hate the Muslims

Waislamu wachukia Wayahudi

The Muslims hate the Jews

Na nguvu zangu zote singeweza hayo yote

With all my might I couldn’t have done all this

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Kweli ina mambo

Truly it is crazy

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Vituko na vichekesho

Jokes and mischief

Dunia ina mambo

The world is crazy

Shetani akamwuliza Mtakatifu Petero

The Devil asked St. Peter

Ni kulala mnalala au vipi (hallo hallo)

Are you guys asleep or what?

Mnaruhusu viongozi wa nchi tajiri

You allow wealthy nations

Kumiliki nchi masikini

To control poor nations

Kwa mfano wananchi wa nchi zilizokuwa chini ya ukoloni

For example, the citizens of former colonies

Waliporwa mali zao au siyo (au siyo)

Weren’t they robbed

Basi mbona waliyonyanyaswa wasipande ndege

Then why can’t those were oppressed jump on a plane

Na kwenda ng’ambo ili kurudisha…haki zao

Go abroad and claim what’s rightfully theirs

No Comments

  • By project sunshine, February 9, 2008 @ 1:58 am

    My heroes and she-roes in their twenties are few and far between, but certainly there. Too bad you are only truly recognized for your achievements when much older.Good post Mwangi. Cheers

  • By Mwangi, February 9, 2008 @ 2:05 am

    Wow sunshine that was quick; I hadn’t even finished the post and you had already read it and left a comment. I am blown away! Thanks for the kind words.

  • By Aden, February 9, 2008 @ 4:38 am


    Despite the distance from Kenya, am feeling each bullet, arrow, panga and stone right in my bone. I understand that each other Kenyan living abroad knows only too well the importance of home. Home is surely the beautiful Kenya in which we land confidently without limitations. The last neighbors we have known are the ones who used to feed our children and theirs from the same plate, those who used to settle our in-house squabbles, scolding noisy couples and removing our children’s loose tooth without a dental certificate. These privileges are non-existent in the first world to an extent where you have to ask for the permission of a choking man (person) before tapping on his back.

    Fellow Kenyans, you know only too well that the PNU/ODM leaders are doing us no good. They are fighting for Government offices and increased allowances while even our landlocked brothers (Burundi… Rwanda…Uganda) pay the price of polls in which they never participated. Kenyans are dying while Kibaki/Odinga lengthen the peace the peace-process from the comfort of air-conditioned, red-carpeted, glassy skyscrapers. Any sane politician would have unconditionally embraced the process to save the lives of our future leaders, the lives of starving African neighbors and the image of Kenya. If we have shed blood together for independence, should we shedding the blood of those we are supposed to protect? When did Kenyans become Kikuyus,Kalenjins,Luos,Kisiis, ODM and PNU? Who has won this dirty man-eat-man game that started in December 2007? What is the relationship between democracy and begging porridge from Red Cross after sleeping under trees like animals? Can’t we just imagine the pain we are causing elderly Kenyans who actually fought for the land that we are destroying? Why are you increasing the suffering of the average Kenyan who is already living in abject poverty thanks to the gluttons occupying parliament for the last 45 years?

    Current figures show that over a thousand Kenyans have died for the misdeeds of tycoons who have never felt the Kenyan weather thanks to tinted, air-conditioned fuel guzzlers armed to out-maneuver stone throwing masses. Is there any Good Samaritan out there who can project the manicured lawns of Muthaiga? Can you visualize the children of the undisturbed lavington dwellers in the swimming pool while their fathers make political utterances meant to slow humanitarian aid for your survival in makeshift structures? Wake up; you are fighting for politicians whose assets are comprehensively insured! Wake up; there will be a PNU/ODM merger after your death. They will buy your land because the widow can’t afford parliament raised school fees. Wake up; we are dogs, our masters are watching the dogfight but we are so worthless that they do not know the actual casualty figures. Have you seen any politician whose children has been displaced? Have you seen Mudavadi, Michuki or Saitoti in nyayo stadium seeking refuge? If we are fighting for a cause, what are the achievements of the dream parliament/Government that made us sing “MOI MUST GO”?? Did we elect Kibaki and Odinga in the same box six years ago? Wake up.

    Aden A

  • By Mwangi, February 9, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

    Hey Aden,
    I admire your passion and I think your sentiments have been echoed by Africans throughout the world. Did you get a chance to read this article from the Thinker’s Room, it seems to me to be an exact reflection of what you are talking about:

  • By Thomas Johnson, July 16, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

    Hi Mwangi,

    I like your website, this post in particular is very interesting. It is really a shame how advertising constantly draws people away from the things that are really important.

  • By Mwangi, July 16, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

    @Thomas Johnson: Indeed, especially when it’s so difficult to focus on what matters to begin with. However, I do think the power of advertising and its methodologies should begin to be used to direct people towards the important more substantive things of life.

  • By Thomas Johnson, July 16, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

    @Mwangi – Yes the techniques of advertising are very powerful, it would be great to see them used more for good. Websites such as yours play a huge part in this.

    Thanks for the link to Eric Wainaina – it’s a cool song and it’s great to have the translation of the lyrics there. I never would have guessed what it was about.

  • By Mwangi, July 16, 2008 @ 8:13 pm

    You’re very welcome :D Hopefully my site will do some practical,tangible good before it’s all said and done…….

  • By peetee, April 16, 2009 @ 8:31 am

    Hi Mwanga,

    May I name 1 native African I hadn’t heard about till yesterday (featured in the Guardian Weekly review) who has impressed the socks off of me? Zambian Dambisa Moyo, (Author of Dead Aid).
    I don’t know if she’s in the 20 age group or all that famous, but anyway… a young, smart, female African who ’should be on the world stage’.

  • By Mwangi, April 17, 2009 @ 7:07 am

    @peetee: Thanks for the link. At this point by and large as a result of being on this blog for 1.5 years I am over any discussions and abstract symbols, I strongly feel at this stage, considering our intellectual capacity, clearly shown by Dambisa Moyo, we should only celebrate people using this capacity to take action and strongly veer away from anything abstract or conversational or intellectual in nature. Be blessed.

  • By Mwangi, April 17, 2009 @ 7:10 am

    @peetee: Lol, btw my name is Mwangi :)

  • By peetee, April 17, 2009 @ 7:20 am

    Oops, sorry about the typo there, Mwangi! (duh)

  • By Tina, May 7, 2009 @ 6:26 am

    Thanks for the blog. How can us regular Americans help people in Africa? I’ve seen documentaries and want to help, want to send stuff over there, goods or money whatever will help. But, I don’t know how. I’m not trusting of sites that claim donations will help because I’m not sure if it will really go to the right people. I constantly donate in my own community, but this community is above most in this respect and I would rather give to people who could use it more. I’m just searching online for information and came across your wonderful blog (love the song) so I understand if you don’t have any leads for me, but I’m just checking just in case.
    Thanks again for writing.

  • By Mwangi, May 7, 2009 @ 6:38 am

    @Tina: My best advice would be to find movements that are already established and showing committment, partner up with them and ask them what they need and help them get that e.g. the shackdwellers of durban or the world social forum.

    I think these financial and charitable institutions probably function in reverse a lot of the time, helping increase the levels of poverty, drop the levels of dilligence and productivity than help communities. Some do, but most don’t as far as I can tell……

Other Links to this Post

  1. 10 Life Changing Tips from an African in the diaspora » The Displaced African — February 9, 2008 @ 1:44 am

  2. My Hero: Eric Wainaina » The Displaced African — March 14, 2008 @ 6:41 am

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