Review of Kikulacho – the Bite Within by A24
“First they Ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” Kikulacho – the Bite Within.
I had the pleasure of attending the premier of Kikulacho at the West Gate Mall on Tuesday with a very mixed group of Kenyans and non Kenyans… big people like Jeff Koinange, Jashpal Ghai, Richard Leakey, and several Ambassadors.
While still downstairs, the film was introduced by Transparency International’s Richard Leakey and A24 Media’s Director Salim Amin who is the son of Mohammed Amin. We could hardly hear the speeches but before we they let us into the auditorium with popcorn and a free soda, they left us with a bizarre warning
“Do not enjoy this film”.
An hour later I understood but felt they had understated things. They should have warned us that the film would assault our senses, shock us, depress us and leave us without an answer. I came out totally shell shocked. It’s a horror film, the horrors of what we have done to the place we call home, our beloved country, Kenya.
It starts like an old fashioned movie about an Indian family in Parklands in Nairobi. They are waking up and getting ready for the day, the handsome man is shaving, listens to the radio while his kids are finishing homework. The diligent wife in flowery vintage dress is pouring tea for breakfast. She asks what’s on the news – he says something forgettable about the land issue ..then kisses her goodbye and leaves for work. As he drives off in his ancient Volkswagen Bug a man steps out from the bushes and guns him down – right there, infront of you.
The haunting sound of his daughter screeching will stay with you for the rest of the film.
The shock of that first scene wakes you up with a start, and makes you sit up. Kikulacho reminds us that Pio Pinto, an Asian was Kenya’s first political assassination. The film takes us backwards and forwards in history assassinations, land grabbing, British, Moi, Kibaki, Kenyatta, – this kind of to and fro is exactly what’s been happening to us. So much has happened, we are so confused, we are being confused, and we are repeating mistakes. No, not mistakes, we are repeating crimes.
Ever since Kenyatta, we have let our politicians pull the wool over our eyes, blaming the colonials for all the woes of Kenya. We forget that we are the employers of these politicians and that the power is in our hands to change things.
Kikulacho – the Bite Within, examines how corrupt systems and policies have impacted everyone in Kenya, including the common people. It reveals how we have been manipulated, cheated and coopted into corruption.
A24 Media says that it is also a story of hope and triumph that aims to look at how our institutions and leadership can be shaped by the people themselves to realize their dreams.
That message must have gone over my head. I felt angry, very angry, depressed and shaken by the end of the film. I filled a questionnaire afterwards, but the truth is I had not digested what the film was conveying. It is so jam packed with information, images, truths and horrors, it’s the kind of film you have to watch in parts, digest, discuss, and repeat over and over to really appreciate the value of the work that has gone into the production. This film forces us to confront our demons, it’s harsh, really harsh.
Like Kenya, Kikulacho is not a polished production – it’s raw and in your face. A24 Media did a superb job of using historical archives, and interviews with people from across the country. It made me proud to hear the voices of so many intelligent Kenyans, and yet very angry that despite our human potential and moral values, our leaders have used policies and constitutions to destroy the moral fiber of Kenya. To divide and ruin us as a people and a nation.
Kikulacho reveals the gigantic elephant into the room that nobody has been talking about with regards to the new proposed constitution – the question of land, how land abuse started under the British and was perpetuated under Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki. How land has been used to further political aims, and anyone suggesting that the land problem would lead to a crisis, was dealt with using bullets.
This film needs to be shown across the country in every bar, club, home, shop, movie theater, and on every channel. I suggested it should even be serialized on mobile phones, put on Youtube and played in open spaces. It was made just in time for the country’s referendum on whether to adopt a new constitution (August 4th 2010). Kikulacho does not take sides on the referendum, but it will make Kenyans think carefully about their decision. I’ve heard people say “I haven’t read the proposed constitution but my MP has, I trust him” or “I’m going with what my church leader says”. I always ask why? Do you think these people are more intelligent than you? Do you really think you are that dumb? It always gets shocked stares and the response “I’m not stupid!” … but we are. When you watch Kikulacho you will realize that we all are very stupid for continuing to elect, trust and then question our corrupt leaders. I am especially stupid, I have been so disappointed with politics in Kenya that I didn’t even bother to register. After watching Kikulacho I absolutely want to vote.
At the end of the film TI aired a short piece of school children answering the question about corruption starting with “what is corruption?”. I thought that this short piece detracted from the main feature but many of the viewers commented that hearing the intelligence and the innocence of these children was humbling. Actually it was embarrassing – one child said ”I’m corrupt because I got my friend the prefect not to write my name down for making noise in class”. How many Kenyans give bribes to police and government officials to get things done or to get out of trouble, but do not consider themselves to be corrupt? Kikulacho – the Bite Within is biting me all the time. I can’t stop thinking about it.
After the film US Ambassador Michael Rannenberger was supposed to give a speach but he didn’t make it due to a delayed flight. It didn’t matter we were all, milling about in a state of shock. Nothing he could have said would have added to the power of the film. I made a donation to the David Munyakei Fund – remember David, the famous Goldenberg whistleblower who died without dignity because of us!
Watch the film and send your comments to 0717666013 and go to their facebook http://www.facebook.com/kikulacho or join their fan page here http://www.facebook.com/Kikulacho?ref=ts&v=wall and get involve din the conversation.
You can watch the preview of Kikulacho here. The preview plays fine but website seems to be still in construction because none of the other links worked like meet thee makers.
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