“Analyzing togetherness among Kenyans living in Massachusetts”
One day I went to the store with my mom. I wore a marvin hat that has colors of the Kenyan flag. Before we got off the car, she told me to take it off. I asked her why, she said, “people will see you in that marvin and they will know you just came from Kenya,” and I said, well what’s wrong with that? She said, just take it off. So I took it off. I kept thinking about her statement since she could not really explain the reason behind asking me to take off my hat. I just couldn’t understand why people knowing I had just immigrated from Kenya was such a big deal.
At my first job, I had to remove my Kenyan wrist band as well. My mom said that people would know that I am a Kenyan. At this point I was intrigued.
A few weeks later, I just couldn’t stay without my Kenyan wrist band, so I put it back on. I made a small mission, to look for any Kenyans who had a similar wrist band, since its very common in Kenya. I came across a few young people who had the wrist band.
The few Kenyans I interacted with by month five would tell me they don’t like associating with fellow Kenyans. Others would tell me they had one or no Kenyan friend at all. I could not understand how people of the same country could have gotten to such a point. So, I decided to do some research and find out what exactly was going on.
Being a journalism student from the university of Nairobi, Kenya, I started thinking of how I could develop this into a story. While doing my research, I realized a short news package wouldn’t really tell the whole story. So I decided to make a feature documentary.
When I got enrolled in college, I decided to study communication with a concentration in film, video and media studies. I knew this would help me learn the craft of documentary film making, especially the technical side of it, which was quite a challenge.
My research kept growing as I continued to met more Kenyans and to discover more.
Although most of my discoveries were really good, some of them were just very disappointing. I met Kenyans who would tell me they weren’t Kenyan, but Kikuyu. Some have mastered the American accent so well that I would mistake them for being African Americans. Others are really involved with the Kenyan community and they only have Kenyans friends.
My filmmaking skills improved. So I decided to rent out a camera from school and do a few interviews, just to get the feel of it. I interviewed about seven or eight people. The topic was whether they thought there was togetherness among Kenyans and the reasons why they thought there was or there wasn’t. I then decided to edit a pilot and post it on my youtube channel. The product looked a bit armature, but what I cared about at the time, was the content.
The video reached several Kenyans who reached out to me and asked to be interviewed. This is when I realized that so many Kenyans wanted to discuss this topic but probably didn’t know how to start the conversation.
I gave this project some serious thought and I decided to fully focus on it after graduating.
About three and a half years later, the documentary was complete. BLACK RED N GREEN. A feature-length documentary analyzing togetherness among Kenyans living in Massachusetts
My aim for this feature-length documentary is to initiate conversations/discussions about encouraging togetherness among Kenyans living in Massachusetts.
What I hope to achieve with this documentary is to see united Kenyans in Massachusetts who are proud of being Kenyan, and happy to meet fellow Kenyans living in the diaspora.
While the documentary concentrates on the Kenyan community, Africans in general, form other African countries can related to the issues discussed.