Afrika Eye Film Festival Nov 8 – 10 2013


The Afrika Eye Film Festival makes a welcome return for its 9th year and will take place at the prestigious Watershed cinema in Bristol, UK.  This year’s theme is ‘Kenya at 50’ in recognition of Kenya’s 50 years of independence. Kenyan films and film-makers are being given centre stage. This includes launching the festival with the first regional screening of David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga’s highly-praised Nairobi Half-Life and the regional premiere of Something Necessary followed by a Q&A session with its up-and-coming director Judy Kibinge (founder of DocuBox).

Tickets for the festival are now available. The festival programme is also available here. Make sure you follow Afrika Eye’s facebook page and twitter for regular updates and fringe events. View Afrika Eye’s fun and beautiful short promo here:

Another festival guest will be director Alain Gomis (Senegal/France), introducing, and later discussing, his internationally-applauded feature, TEY (Aujourd’hui/Today), which stars the actor, musician, poet and hip hop artist Saul Williams (previously seen in the big hit, SLAM).


Other African-themed attractions include music, food, fashion, debates, director Q&A sessions, new shorts, a photo exhibitions and workshops for young people, led by singer Mim Suleiman of Zanzibar (who features on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto V). There is also a short film programme titled EYEFULL which is a 90 minute programme of short films told from an African or Diaspora perspective that will be running alongside the main festival.

at Jahazi Festival 2011 (photo: Peter Bennett)
In addition, there will be an exhibition of Kanga – the highly colourful and boldly designed cloth wraps worn by men and women in east Africa – an African themed menu and a round table debate about media education and the potential for film club exchanges by Bristol/Nairobi schools.
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Andre Epstein | Legio Maria


“I use it to stab the devil.”
Copyright 2012 © Andre Epstein


Sunday morning. Copyright 2012 © Andre Epstein


Copyright 2012 © Andre Epstein


Copyright 2012 © Andre Epstein

Legio Maria (Latin for ‘Legion of Mary’), is a series of photographs by Andre Epstein. This set of photographs portrays the followers of a Legio Maria church located in Kibera slum, Nairobi.

The Legio Maria church represents the continuation of a Luo community response to Christianity seen in its colonial form, and the control exercised by European missionaries on Christian communities in western Kenya. Legio Maria is a new religious movement and African independent church. The doctrine follows the central message of Christianity, and specifically in the central role of Mary as ‘queen’, ‘mother’ and the ‘mediatrix’. However, beliefs concerning the interaction between the world of the spirits and that of living human beings differs slightly from mainstream Catholic beliefs.


At the Legio Maria church in Kibera, Nairobi. Copyright 2012 © Andre Epstein
This notebook is full of revelations from God. he believeS they are in ancient greek, aramaic, and hebrew. one day, he told me, he will learn these languages so he can decipher the many notebooks he has filled with this writing. -Andre

Legio Maria, Makina Stage.

Legio Maria, Makina Stage. Copyright 2012 © Andre Epstein

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Profile of the Week | Lupita Nyong’o


Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico, raised in Kenya and educated in the USA. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama’s Acting program and her stage credits include playing Perdita in The Winter’s Tale (Yale Repertory Theater), Sonya in Uncle Vanya, Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew, as well as being in the original production of Michael Mitnick‘s Elijah.

In 2009, Nyong’o released her moving documentary In My Genes.  It is a documentary that tells the plight of people living with Albinism in Kenya. The film follows 8 people and reveals their struggle in coping with a condition that is rarely understood by most people in Kenya; but equally celebrates their resilience through stigmatisation that is no fault of their own.  The film preceded the murders of albino people in Tanzania that put this issue on the global map thus placing this concern squarely in view of a global audience. It is filmed and produced by Lupita. View the trailer below:

78 min | Colour | High Definition | 4:3
Kenya, 2009
Status:  Released

Language: Swahili, English

Subtitles: English

The synposis is as follows:

Agnes may not seem like someone with much to laugh about. For one thing, she has albinism– a lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes– and her appearance has provoked prejudice from family, friends and strangers since she was born. But despite all odds, Agnes refuses to lead a life of sorrow.

This fascinating and inspiring documentary also shares the stories of seven other people’s individual experiences of living their lives with albinism in Kenya, a predominantly black society. While each person’s story is unique, they all have one thing in common: they know what it is like to stand out uncomfortably in a crowd!


Agnes and Lupita
Courtesy of LadyeNews

During the same year, Lupita was also the lead in MTV’s award-winning TV drama series, Shuga (2009) commisioned by MTV Networks Africa in association with MTV Staying Alive Foundation, PEPFAR (US President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief) and the Government of Kenya. It aired on MTV Base and is an initiative dubbed MTV Staying Alive Ignite! It is a controversial hard-hitting drama that followed the lives, loves and ambitions of a group of young people whose bright lives and  futures are perilously out of balance due to their love of living dangerously.

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MoCADA | The Journey Home


The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) cordially invites you to be part of The Journey Home 2nd Edition, a cultural journey to Kenya. Featuring special musical performances, intimate film screenings, art exhibitions, and exciting cultural events, it will be a unique opportunity to experience the art, culture, and beauty of Kenya, East Africa.

The Journey Home will take place from Friday, August 30th, 2013 through Sunday, September 8th, 2013.

Price includes airfare from NYC, lodging, entertainment, and 2 meals per day. The cost of the trip does not include passport fees, visa, vaccinations, travel insurance, or excess luggage. Learn more about the application and the trip here.

Buni TV Unveils Fresh, Exclusive Comedy Series


Buni TV is an on demand service and web/mobile distribution platform that aims to become the premier destination for top-quality, independent pan-African video. They are most widely known for their excellent Kenyan satirical show The XYZ Show which is reminiscent of British ITV’s Spitting Image and is inspired by France’s Les Guignols de l’Info.

With this new series, it has launched its own customised content. There are 40 episodes bearing provocative and evocative titles like Sexual Olympics Academy, The Cursed Kenyan, What to Expect in Africa or White Savior Inc. The comedy series assembles an exciting  ensemble of young talents from Kenya and Africa. The move comes shortly after CEO and co-founder of Buni Media, Marie Lora-Mungai, predicted the possibility of content specially created for the video on demand services, at the recently held Mobile Web East Africa in Nairobi.

Mugambi Nthiga, best known as “Cedric” from Kenya’s first Oscar entry Nairobi Half Life (which Ciné Kenya featured here), is a film, TV and stage actor with experience on theatre stages and sets in Kenya, Philadelphia and New York City. See him perform in the comedy sketch ‘Jazel Shah for Africa’ here.


Marie Lora-Mungai along with being CEO of Buni Media, is also the CEO and founder of Buni Tv. She states

“We at Buni TV believe that the future of entertainment is highly engaging, highly customized content produced with a specific audience in mind, just like what Netflix did with House of Cards. A large section of Buni TV viewers comes to the site to watch The XYZ Show, and we wanted to give them more to enjoy.”

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Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & 80s


We love the graphic style of Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and 80s which is the latest release from Soundway Records. Soundway continues their Africa ‘Special’ series with this new release.

Spread out over two CDs and one triple LP, Kenya Special is accompanied by detailed liner notes, original artwork and photographs. It reveals a treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings from East Africa by exploring Kikuyu ‘liquid soul,’ Swahili afrobeat, to genre-bending Congolese and Tanzanian tracks recorded in Nairobi.

African Eagles band

African Eagles band

The musical landscape of 1970s Kenya was dominated by two threads of music styles – Kenyan benga and Afro-cuban rumba, which came to be interpreted by Congolese artists through visiting bands, many of whom eventually settled in the area. Benga quickly became Kenya’s unique contribution to afro-pop; with it’s 4/4 beat and intricate electric guitar layers.

This release follows on from Soundway’s ‘Africa Special’ series that has focused on the afrobeat output from 1970s Nigeria (Tunji Oyelana: A Nigerian Retrospective 1966 – 79) and Ghana (Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981).


Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981


Tunji Oyelana: A Nigerian Retrospective 1966 – 79

Kenya Special is a collection of 32 recordings (most of which were only released on small-run 45rpm 7″ singles) that stand out as being different or unique as well as some classic genre standards. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Kenya was at the time.

Painstakingly compiled, assembled and researched over two years by a team of five people from five countries (Kenya included), Kenya Special is a collection that looks beyond the mainstream and brings new life and recognition to some little known gems and forgotten classics of Kenya’s past. Ciné Kenya previously posted about Swahili Rumba when Just A Band released a rendition of Issa Juma’s song ‘Matatizo’ here.

Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and ’80s is out on April 28th (or May 20th, for vinyl). You can pre-order here.

Found this fantastic release thanks to our friends over at okayafrica.

Twende Berlin: Documentary About Gentrification in Berlin Told Through Eyes of Kenyan Hip Hop Musicians

Upendo Hero as seen at CinemAfrica Sweden Film Festival

Twende Berlin is a documentary about urban spaces and our relationship to them as told through the eyes of a troupe of African hip-hop artists ‘Ukoo Flani‘ on their adventure through Berlin and is produced by African based filmmakers. The film is produced by Cultural Video Foundation (CVF) in collaboration with Urban Mirror. German musicians The Teichmann Brothers and a host of other German musicians are also involved.
After the success of Maskaniflani, an award-winning participatory documentary and music video about public art and public space in Kenya, the hiphop group ‘Ukoo Flani’ started to develop different projects to explore the urban space that they inhabit, using music and art. The group, is composed of 6 members and Upendo Hero (the love hero, pictured above with a love-heart in place of a head) a mysterious character invented by Ukoo Flani to spread the message of love for public space. The social issue which underpins the documentary is the importance of public space and public art in contemporary society, and how and why western metropolises are affected by the emerging phenomenon of “gentrification”.


In ‘ Twende Berlin’  which screened at CinemAfrica Sweden, Ukoo Flani and Upendo Hero discover how artists and the so-called “creative class” become unwitting pawns in the shifting fortunes of Berlin neighbourhoods. Seeking out low-rent areas they move in and shift the demographic and profile of that space. This acts as a catalyst, increasing property values which can then often mean that the original inhabitants of these neighbourhoods can no longer afford to live there. Whilst these neighbourhoods were not necessarily always cohesive communities, often, and particularly in Berlin, they are. The city is, undeniably losing something. And this is what Ukoo Flani and Upendo hero try to find out.

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‘His To Keep’ by Amirah Tajdin


12 min

Language: Kikuyu, English subtitles

Director: Amirah Tajdin

His To Keep is a short film by Kenyan filmmaker Amirah Tajdin.

It’s a film about a Kenyan man’s struggle to deal with painful memories of his and others’ resistance efforts to colonialism. A phone call forces hurtful experiences to the fore and he realises that time does not necessarily heal all wounds. He remembers loved ones he lost and contemplates the meaning of such pain. His To Keep screened at the CinemAfrica Sweden festival.

Besides making short films, Tajdin draws, DJ’s, creates wall murals and sculptures. She enjoys making films about social misfits, exploring cliche’s and trying to re-present them to the world. 

In keeping with her penchant for telling stories of the disenfranchised, Tajdin’s talent is displayed yet again in another short story Ciné Kenya featured here. Flourescent Sin a story about a drag queen thats is experiencing terrible heartbreak.

The film witnesses the drag queen’s poetic pandemonium; both self and body are stuck in Nairobi railway station’s no man’s land. “I’m stuck between where I’m supposed to be and where I am” — both a lament on his/her body, and a literal comment on the act of waiting at a train station, and the self-reflection waiting induces. Amirah Tajdin deftly melds the now iconic familiarity of Nairobi station, with the odd-beauty of the drag queen, playing on the expected and unexpected.

Another short story with a PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) theme related to colonial war is Tabatô. Which Ciné Kenya featured here.

Just A Band Inspired by Victims of Nyayo House Torture.


Kenyan musicians Just A Band released their first music video for the song ‘Matatizo’ from their latest album Sorry For The Delay.

Just A Band‘s video is inspired by those who perished and survived the Nyayo House torture and detention chambers that were in use during Daniel arap Moi’s period as president. Find out more about that here (PDF).

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Guillaume Bonn, ‘Silent Lives’

Kavina (left) is a fifty-year-old grandmother who works as a maid. She came to Kenya as a refugee from Uganda; her entire family was killed during the Idi Amin regime. Florence, also a maid, is forty-seven years old and comes from Kakamega. She is planning to get married in church so that her daughter may be allowed to have a religious marriage. Her husband works in a hotel in Nairobi.

The maids prepare a room for a guest coming to spend the weekend.

A nanny by the pool of the Muthaiga Club, situated in a residential area of Nairobi, while her young charge relaxes on a sun bed.

Guillame Boon has produced a remarkable series of photos about the lives of domestic workers titled Silent Lives for which he was nominated for the Piclet Prize in 2012.

Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker writes, ” Kenya, in other words, is no longer the place of Karen Blixen’s nostalgically remembered, illusory Eden, where everyone except the whites knew their place….and yet, as Bonn reveals, some of the old social heriarchies persist in some of the country’s most privileged households”.

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