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Society & Culture

CONTENTS The socially powerful comic 58 Book Review 59 Opinion: Last Word 60

Mau Ma the rst p u was revolutio roper had in Ke n that we ny is version a and this 2.0 of it.

FUTURI COMIC B STIC OOKS The

LIFE TRAVEL RESTAURANT REVIEWS FILM & THEATRE ART MUSIC BOOK REVIEW
FUTURISTIC

The socially powerful comic


BY AKINYI JOSEPH

he binary of good and evil has continued to dene the most popular narratives of our time, and the comic book genre is no dierent. With its panel-to-panel transitions, placement of text and style of lettering for instance, the comic book - and recent lms developed from popular comics - can arguably be said to have rened the visual presentation of the binary. And in a unique take on the concept, Kenyas vibrant creative industry has spurred the development of a new tale in the genre. One that is intimately Kenyan since it is tied to the multi ethnic identity of the country, linked to its rich freedom ghting history and is anchored on the social, economic and political upheavals that the country is undergoing as it ushers in a new government and leadership structure. Aptly named Mau 2.0, to connect with the freedom ghters who fought the British between 1952 and 1960, the comic is published by Myrobi, a branding and merchandise business with a publishing arm. Its writer is 27-year old Shamit (or Sham) Patel, a comic book enthusiast from a young age. Ive always used imagination to get away, he said, and while some argue that comic
| Nairobi Business Monthly May

Shamit Patel, writer of Mau 2.0

books are not a form of characters : Kenia, Kal, literature, Sham dismisses Naare, Saa and Kobe. the critique insisting that the distinctive quasi-visual comic book is Shujaas, (Heroes,in Sheng) quasi-verbal way in which a comic book which was developed two years ago and develops a character is possibly unequalled grew to national popularity when the Nation in other literary genres. Media Group began to distribute it in the Sham began reading comic books as a teenager, his favourites of which were Marvel Saturday Nation. Produced by the creative company Well Told Story, the story is about a and DC Comics, and it is a practice that did not abate as he grew older. The only change is child called Boyie who builds a radio station called Shujaaz FM and uses his broadcasts to that today he reads them online. discuss issues that aect the youth. His launch of Mau 2.0 comes at a time Earlier this year, young artist and cartoonwhen the comic book genre is witnessing a ist Movin Were announced that he was worknational revival. Kenyas most well known

Mau 2.0 has ve main

Society & Culture


Comic book reading is thought of as an active form of social and cultural participation because it engages the reader on a sensory level

BOOK REVIEW
ing on his second comic, Dem Chungu, which featured a crime ghting female inspired by Jim Holdaway and Romeros Modesty Blaise. And most recently Kenyan rapper and emcee Point Blank Evumbi released his monthly comic book publication titled Home Guard. Mau 2.0 however stands out even though it is also developed on the popular good versus evil binary. A futuristic series set in a dystopian Nairobi city where Vision 2030 has gone horribly wrong, Mau 2.0 chronicles the battles of the protagonist Kenia - an orphan who lost his parents at a young age - and his four idiosyncratic friends, each of whom has their own personality traits. The four are Kal (Hindi for tomorrow), a computer genius; Naare (Swahili for match), a rebellious pyromaniac; Saa (Swahili for time), a politicians daughter disillusioned by life in the inner circles; and Kobe (Swahili for tortoise), the silent, peace loving muscle in the group. The Mau Mau was the rst proper revolution that we had in Kenya and this is version 2.0 of it, said Sham because this group of ve take on feel the sense of injustice so strongly that they dedicate themselves to ghting corruption and the abuse of power wherever it manifests in a pessimistic Kenyan society where international funding has been pulled out since global powers are on the brink of a third world war. While the themes that the comic tackles are contemporary - such as a group called the Matatu Maa who have been secluded from the city environs - and hard hitting because of this, Mau 2.0s quirky characters soften the texture enough to make it entertaining and appealing. In addition it draws on Kenyan mythology, such as the supreme god Ngai who lives on Mount Kirinyaga, which adds a fantastical quality to its storyline. The cost of developing one series of comic books - with around 24 issues - is approximately Sh5 million, and this includes printing 12,000 copies of each issue. Shamit is convinced that the comic book is best enjoyed as a tangible story and so the print version will be supplemented with an online or mobile app version. As Myrobi moves into production mode of Mau 2.0, they are nalising deals with various blue chip companies in Kenya including some from the telecoms and consumer goods sectors, brands that target the youth market, and in return for the sponsorship the brand will be integrated into the narrative through product placement. Far from the initial understanding of comic books as humorous - derived from the humour which predominated early American newspaper comic strips - comic book reading today is thought of as an active form of social and cultural participation because it engages the reader on a sensory level. If Mau 2.0 is anything to go by, then the genre in Kenya could precipitate a generation that is even more socially and culturally active.

Karibu Kenya
In all my years in the business, I have never seen an accommodation publication as comprehensive as this John Burdett, Director of Africa Exclusive aribu Kenya Accommodation Guide, the new comprehensive guidebook to Kenya, was launched in February 2013. It has detailed information on over 850 camps, lodges, hotels, resorts and bandas, and has been endorsed by the Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation and the Kenya Professional Safari Guide Association. The Guide covers the history, geography, climate, peoples, attractions and annual cultural festivals of Kenya, as well as the countrys infrastructure, banking, communications, transport and medical facilities. It highlights responsible tourism and the wildlife code. Each chapter focuses on a region, with a photograph, a summary of what the area oers and information on where to go and what to do including various national parks, reserves and conservancies. Information is also provided on bookings, rates and payment options. The author, Tamara Britten, has previously received the Curtis Brown Award for Prose Fiction, attained second place in the Yeovil Short Story Competition and was shortlisted for the Hookline Novel Competition. She has also managed safari camps and mobile tented safaris in Kenya and Namibia. Karibu Kenya Accommodation Guide is available at select local outlets and at Amazon UK.

GO OUTDOORS!
Rhino Charge 31 May
An annual event in which the competitors compete on a gruelling cross-country course in o-road vehicles. All funds raised are donated to Rhino Ark, a Kenyan charity set up to help the Aberdare Conservation area.

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