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HISTORY OF THE FILM INDUSTRY IN KENYA

Gerald Langiri
September 05 / 2012

The history of film in Kenya dates back to the early 1930's when film producers from Europe and Hollywood descended on Kenya's favourable climate and excellent locations to shoot films like "Snows of Kilimanjaro", "Mogambo", and "King Solomon's Mines'.

Coming at the height of colonial rule in Kenya and Africa, Kenya was therefore a valuable resource for filmmakers to exploit and tell their stories with Kenya as a set. The appetite of the audiences back home necessitated this push for adventure and white conquest stories, as well as the archetypal romantic movie set against a backdrop of virgin locations in Africa.

However these films were and are in no way, an expression of the Kenyan people. Kenya was merely a set, or a convenient backdrop for the white man's adventure films. The portrayal of the African was to say the least, patronizing while participation of indigenous Kenyans in these films was confined to the role of "a porter", "a guard" or "the fire spitting witches", More recently, blockbusters films like "Out of Africa", "Nowhere in Africa" and "The Constant Gardner', not to mention the numerous wildlife films, have been shot in our stunning landscape and game parks.

After independence, not only had Kenya become a choice location for international filmmakers, it also became a consumer of foreign films; some of which were shot here and then shipped back for a captive audience on the Kenyan cinema circuit and television. The net result of this has been a dependence of the Kenyan population on foreign entertainment through film and television, yet the country, with such a diverse and rich cultural heritage is unable to effectively express itself to its people and to the rest world by telling its own story through this powerful and effective medium, Film.

 

Extracted from the Draft Kenya Film Policy, Film Kenya By Ministry of Information and Communications.

Related articles;

- A BRIEF HISTORY OF FILM IN KENYA

- HISTORY OF CINEMA IN KENYA

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