Only in Kenya

Monday, November 27, 2006

Project Blame

There's a nursery rhyme that goes: 'Number ten stole the cookies from the cookie jar. Isn't it you number ten? Who me?…' More than twenty years after leaving the confines of sand pits, climbing frames and see saws, I've just discovered that song wasn't meant to teach us members of the number line, but to never accept blame! When things are thick, blame it on an innocent bystander. Even your car insurance sticker reads: 'In case of an accident, don't accept liability. Call us.' I haven't updated my blog for several weeks now so whom do I welekea? The weather! Even if the computer has no clue who Peninah Karibe is.

Talking weather, the rain this past Sunday at the Project Fame Academy caught the organizers wrong footed, and without gumboots. Anyway, 'The weather is unpredictable.' It was odd seeing judges criticizing beautiful performances while sheltered from the unpredictable using black brollies. The situation was later corrected by moving the judges to a so-called VIP section. A VIP section in an academy? Baffles me too.

Previous weekend, the PA system failed! I thought electricals, fittings and the like are tested over and over again. It’s a live performance, remember? No time for re-takes and edits. We don't want to have a student fall into the swimming pool when performing live for the judges, audience and the rest of the continent watching on DStv, or do we?

This is not an attack on TPF, but a wake up call.

Let's start with the fact that TPF looks like a well-camouflaged young drinkers' recruitment drive. Why? It comes at the end of the year when students are all looking forward to an upgrade from the current class, age group and soda. Add the word 'fame' to the equation and the arithmetic that will bring maximum profits to the title sponsors will make you go 'Kaching-ching!'

Secondly, this project has been carried 93% by the talent in the students, 7% by Gaetano and Sheila. As Tedd said when commenting on Linda's performance: 'I am proud to be East African'. The talent behind the cameras is however questionable not the best we have in Kenya, let alone East Africa.

I cringe whenever I think what Van Dyjk, swiveling in his black leather high back chair in a Jo'burg studio, thinks when he watches TPF on NTV on DStv. Could his laughter be punctuated with 'Eishhh'es, tightly shut eyes and fingers combing his hair every time the TPF crew blunders like… let's see… a member of the crew dashes across your screen? Or the host looks at the wrong camera?

TPF acts as an ambassador of what East Africa can do with reality shows. What we're showing to the world is nowhere near the finest Kenya can showcase. The students are from the crème de la crème of our upcoming talent but our finest cameramen, producers, video editors and creatives names appear nowhere on the crew list of TPF. To whom or what do we point the finger? Finances? Time? Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?

Let the blame games begin.