‘Kichwateli’ & Other Pleasures of the Kenyan Music Video Scene

Nairobi has been at the center of some great music videos recently, and they deserve to be seen. The songs and videos here, taken alone, would stand up just fine. Together, though, they are wonderful compositions.

The music for Kichwateli (Swahili: TV Head) comes from Nairobi based Just A Band as well as Maasai Mbili and Berlin based ModeSelektor.  Bobb Mchuri of Studio ANG wrote and directed the video.

The video – described by The Inspiration Room as “a short poetic film set in a post-apocalyptic African slum and city which takes the viewer on a spiritual and metaphorical voyage through a young boy’s dream” – is a product of BLNRB, a project of Nairobi’s Goethe Institute for musical and artistic collaboration between Berlin and Nairobi.

Just A Band made quite a splash when they came on to the scene in 2008, though 2010’s Ha-He, featuring bad boy hero Makmende, really made them big. [For etymology and film nerds: Makmende is a sheng word derived, on some accounts, from Dirty Harry’s line ‘Go ahead, make my day, in 1983’s Sudden Impact.] Makmende then became the muse for a range of internet memes, including ‘Makmende didn’t cheat death – he beat it fair and square,’ and this fictional 10,000 Shilling note:

Anyway, here’s video, the directed by Jim Chuchu and Mbithi Masya, chock-full of nods to blaxpoitation and kung fu films:

Goldbreaks, a mostly black and white video directed Hawa Essuman (also behind Soulboy), stars Mister Abbas, Lon’ Jon, Kimya, Teichmann, set against some great shots of Nairobi.  This video is also part of the BLNRB lineup.

Check out the rest of BLNRB films here.

And while you’re at it, check out Just A Band’s other videos, including their self-animated 2008 hit Iwinyo Piny.

About BFC/A

The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people. The BFC/A's primary objectives are to promote scholarship on black film and to serve as an open resource for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public; to encourage creative film activity by independent black filmmakers; and to undertake and support research on the history, impact, theory, and aesthetics of black film traditions. View all posts by BFC/A

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