African Cultural Regeneration Institute(ACRI)
Accredited UNESCO Cultural Advisor for Africa
Member of the UNESCO Consultative Body ICH (2011-2012)

Unearthing the Gems of Culture – Mapping Exercise for Kenya’s Creative Cultural Industries

International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD)

UNESCO IFCD PROJECT IN KENYA implemented by ACRI: contract Ref. n°4500147522

PROJECT TITLE: Unearthing the Gems of Culture: Mapping Exercise for Kenya’s Creative Industries

Preparatory Activities

After the proposal by the African Cultural Regeneration Institute (ACRI) was approved by the IGC in November 2010, the contract was made by UNESCO and ACRI signed it on 1st August 2011; the first tranche of funding was received on 22nd August 2011. In preparation for data gathering, the following activities were done: (A) Setting up a Secretariat and work program; (B) Stakeholder Roundtable & and cultural reference group Workshop; (C) Data collection and IT support (development of data collection tools, data collection software, fieldwork; (D) Awareness raising [local language radio stations and T.V.].

It is important to note that the project was grossly underfunded as ACRI got only half of what was applied for. Funds were, therefore, used largely for the following functions: administrative personnel service, field work, IT and software development, consultancies, transportation, and internet/telephony. The project management and implementation team has lauded the goodwill and patriotism demonstrated by the implementers, hoping that, in future, with better funding, the situation will not remain the same. The Directors of ACRI are, therefore, glad to report that the personnel working on the project have been understanding and cooperative, and, for this reason, they must be commended and asked to continue thus until the project comes to term. The determination of the directors and the personnel is informed by their commitment to culture and the import of creative industries to sustainable development.


Initial meetings,discussions at the beginning of the project "Initial meetings,discussions at the beginning of the project

The Secretariat of the Project was established on Mombasa Road, Vision Plaza, Ground Floor, at Enterprise ICT-Africa, which, as provider of the IT service, would serve as the coordination point for the Project while, in the boardroom the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM), management meetings would be held there. Consultative meetings were, therefore, held with KNATCOM to chart the way for the operational strategies in meetings and coordination. The project was to be executed on a day to day basis by Project Director, Project Officer, Administrative Officer, and Administrative Assistant, who were to be compensated on a monthly basis. Lead statistical researchers and IT specialists were identified and these would be compensated on contractual basis. This project is inspired by the 2009 UNESCO framework for Cultural Statistics which, to a large measure, reflects the situation of developed countries. Since the project is inspired by this framework, it was expected that the project in Kenya will enrich the framework by looking into Creative Industries in Kenya and, by extension, Africa. However, the budget is constrained, having been granted half the amount of funds applied for. The study team embarked on developing research instruments and strategising on partnerships for executing the work. The institutions that would collaborate on the project would include: the African Cultural Regeneration Institute (ACRI); Enterprise ICT-Africa; Creative Content Taskforce of the Kenya ICT Board; UNESCO INSTITUTE OF STATISTICS – UIS (Cluster office Nairobi); Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM); and the Department of Culture (Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. The other institutions that have cooperated to date in providing diverse information for the various aspects of the project are the National Museums of Kenya, Ministry of Tourism, Women Enterprise Fund, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Association of the Physically Handicapped in Kenya (APDK), Lutheran School for the Mentally Handicapped - Kisumu, The Ateso Cultural Group, Kenya Institute of Education – Media Broadcast Channel, Kenya National Archives, Kenya National Library Service (KNLS).

As the data collection instruments would be developed, the UIS would be requested to look at the instruments and make comments/technical suggestions where necessary, before the start of data gathering. The statisticians would organize teams for fieldwork.

The first meeting of the Cultural Reference Group (CRG) was planned for the end of September with the aim of establishing the parameters of the project.


The Cultural Reference Group Roundtable (CRG) was held in September 2011 while the Stakeholder Roundtable Conference is planned for July 2012.


 Cultural reference Group meeting Cultural reference Group meeting

The Cultural Reference Group (CRG) Roundtable Workshop was held at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) on 23rd September 2011. It was attended by 23 stakeholders representing both the Private Sector practitioners and the relevant departments of the Public Sector. The Private Sector side was represented by artists, crafts people and designers, event organisers, institutions, and NGO’s. The Public Sector side was represented by the Department of Culture, National Museums of Kenya, both of the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, and the Ministry of Information and Communication’s Creative Content Task Force. The UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) was represented by the Cluster officer in Nairobi.

During the CRG workshop the highlights to the 2005 UNESCO Convention were made, stressing that the project of Unearthing the Gems of Culture: Mapping Exercise foe Kenya’s Creative Industries was a measure of implementing the said Cultural Diversity Convention. Cultural diversity was described as strength, not weakness, and it was stated that countries can benefit immensely from creative cultural industries. The stakeholders were asked to support this initiative of UNESCO by helping people to make the best out of their cultural heritage and out of the creativity emanating from it. The presentation by the Department of Culture (Ms Emily Muthoni Njeru on behalf of the Director) gave an overview of the nature of creative industries in the world and remarked that Africa has not exploited cultural industries to advantage. In other words, the African potential in creative cultural industries has not been fully harnessed even though the continent is endowed with rich and diverse cultural heritage. The paper stressed that though currently there is no statistical data on the contribution of the creative cultural industries to the National Economy of Kenya, there is evidence that the industry has a huge potential for economic growth. The paper indicated that the government is actively promoting creative cultural industries in Kenya.

Yvonne Owour of Creative Content Taskforce - Kenya ICT Board presenting a paper Creative Content Task Force of Kenya ICT Board

The presentation by the Creative Content Task Force (Ms Yvonne Owour) reflected on the informed positions following several earlier meetings with ACRI, trying to develop a local definition of Creative Industries and establish the scope for Kenya. Interdependence between culture and creativity was elaborated, relating it with the growing East African creative and cultural economy. Regarding the intellectual property rights (IPRs) of the indigenous peoples and their cultural creativity, the Kenya industrial Property Institute - KIPI (Mr Stanley Atsali) informed the CRG about the safeguards guaranteed internationally and locally. He noted the difficulties involved in determining the safeguards and measures that are being taken at the WIPO level to guarantee the sharing of benefits accruing with reference to IPRs. Discussions, notwithstanding, centred on the need of the CRG to work to see that the Kenyan cultural creators benefit in due measure from their productions, both as individuals and as communities. It was resolved that knowledge, creativity, culture, imagination and Intellect should be developed in the youth as assets since the young people are of immense resourcefulness in generating new ideas, work models and ways of engaging with the world.

The significant absence of the arts discipline in the curricula examined in the East African schools, Kenya in particular, was seen as a major setback in promoting the development of the cultural economy. This should be countered by implementing an alternative, self-regulated arts education with opportunities for assorted training and education in the arts.

The CRG warned in conclusion that the proposed mapping will find that the creative people are not homogenous in the country; there will be found mainstream formal creative cultural industries existing as a distinct group, against industries by individuals and groups that are not formal or deliberately organised; as such, the latter only exist through a drive of ingenuity and inventiveness; the group may even tend to be both non-erudite and rustic and, at the same time, gravely needing guidance and promotion in order to excel, as well as, needing protection from marauding counterfeiters. The researchers were asked to do data mining with established institutions as the enumerators would be sent to the field to meet the creative people.


Data Collection started on 13th February 2012. Due to adverse weather conditions in Kenya in the months of November and December 2011, the exercise of field intervention had to be postponed. This was to avoid doing useless work and spending funds irresponsibly. In December, instead, effort was placed on studying community cultural festivals during the festivities of the December season, within different cultural communities. Interesting data was collected, especially in Western Kenya where Bull fighting was a special attraction. The potential for transforming such cultural events into income generating activities was evident. The method of collecting such data on festive events during Christmas and New Year involved identifying local university students or competent persons, arming them with specified questions, and then having them to visit events in their areas and make reports, taking pictures as required, with their own cameras, to be compensated through M-PESA Money Transfer technology on completion of assignments. This was cost effective as it avoided expensive travels by researchers from Nairobi. In January and early February 2012, training of trainers with regard to field work and the use of the data gathering tool was done as reported above. In the following paragraph, we report about the arduous work of developing the data collection tools and data collection software.


Contracts were established with service providers, namely: the statistical experts, the lawyer, the accountant, the ICT support provider, and the personnel. Consultations were made with the Department of Culture on the modus operandi in the field. Specifically, the office in charge of the 2005 UNESCO Convention was requested to give guidance on the location of existing creative/cultural industries in the 47 counties of Kenya as a measure of optimising the results expected from the field, given the restricted time of visits due to constrained funding.

The design of the research instruments started early, at the beginning of the project. With the guidance of the statistical expert, an initial working document was written and circulated to all the participants. Meetings followed in the Boardroom of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and the questionnaire was reworked many times including testing it in the field before approving it for use. It was later decided that not all practitioners of the cultural industries would need the long questionnaire. Another tool was therefore developed to address the large scale industries. Two instruments were therefore designed: (A – Qualitative/Quantitative) & (B – In Depth Interview). Instrument A was the main tool, and was fed into the IT software, to be answered by all the practitioners in the field. Instrument B would make follow-ups to the larger players. The research team hoped that the instruments will deliver information that will be useful to everyone, and, especially, will form a basis for further research.

he next step was then to develop the IT system into which to feed the questionnaire A. The IT system would capture data in the field and/or receive what could not be received directly due to internet connectivity. For accompanying data gatherers in the field, digital cameras were sourced in order to capture the pictures of various activities of the creative industries; laptops for field work were to be hired for research assistants. Exercise for recruiting research assistants was started, with preference given to university students who are studying subjects on Creative Industries, anthropology, or are practitioners in creative industries. Apart from these considerations for the research activity, it was hoped that the students who will have participated in this research will get to know about the 2005 UNESCO Convention and will take this conversation back to their Universities around the country. This would also help to raise awareness about the Cultural Diversity Convention Kenya. A field manual, highlighting the imperatives of the 2005 Convention was prepared to make this easy.

A meeting with the UNESCO INSTITUTE OF STATISTICS (UIS) cluster office in Nairobi agreed that UIS will give technical support and advice to the project. In that regard, ACRI was requested to share the research instruments with UIS in order to get feedback. This was done and UIS, Montreal, indeed gave very useful inputs: firstly, a number of questions on the questionnaire were raised and, secondly, Montreal warned ACRI not to confuse the UNCTAD framework (based on the 2010 UN Creative Economy Report) and the 2009 Framework for Cultural Statistics published by UIS. That caution was taken seriously by the research team and the instrument was developed and reworked accordingly. After testing, the questionnaire was mailed back to UIS for further feedback before being cleared for the field.


On the Global Broadcasting Service (GBS), Nairobi, Prof. Gichuru gave in October 2011 a live one hour interview on Culture, the intangible cultural heritage, and cultural diversity, as promoted by the two UNESCO Conventions (2003 & 2005). In 2012, in the context of promoting awareness of the Creative Industries that are the subject of ACRI’s project, Unearthing the Gems of Culture, ACRI has started a programme of sensitization through the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) education channel. The first recording was on 8th February 2012, where Prof. Gichuru was interviewed on culture, UNESCO Conventions, and ACRIs vision and mission. The Second recording was scheduled for 1st March 2012 (but was postponed to a later date due to the announcement of results of KCSE [Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education]); this is expected to feature the 2005 UNESCO Convention in particular, and the creative industries, specifically. Special focus will be on the AST Symposium project and the visual arts, especially in stone sculpturing with the Kisii soapstone. The world-famous award-winning sculpture celebrities, Elkana Ong’esa (HSC) and Gerard Motondi (HSC) will be special guests. Local vernacular radio stations have not been very receptive unless with good budget provision. However, ACRI is working with the Kenya Institute of Education broadcasting service to reach people through the vernacular radio programmes, and other national radio and television stations.


1. Community Cultural Festivals December 2011

Community cultural festivals are very important in forging community identity, encouraging unity through the common activities carried out together for social cohesion and fun. Every community festival promotes interaction of the local people with others from the different parts of the region surrounding the community. The festival has also the attribute of passing on the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), namely: 1) oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of ICH 2) performing arts 3) social practices, rituals and festive events 4) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe 5) traditional craftsmanship, all this from the elders to the younger generation. (See the UNESCO Convention of 2003 for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind). The Community Cultural Festival occasion also constitutes an event where the community is blessed by the elders.

Apart from the values described above regarding these festivals, ACRI's mapping project, Unearthing the Gems of Culture, highlights the imperatives of the Creative Economy where the scope of the activities that are being researched on constitute the ingredients that make up these festivals. Through the festivals, we find promotion and exposure of all products, artifacts and services available from the specific area. There are also the additional benefits touching on cultural tourism, whereby the community gets to share what they have with the outside world. ACRI's mapping project is in effect asking Kenyans how seriously they support such festivals in their local communities. The Western/Nyanza region of Kenya was the only place where we could get such information. It was a very interesting experience because December festivities normally bring the whole community together, including those that normally live far away due to the imperatives of duty. Here below we present some of our experiences. Read more...

2. Field Research Team

ACRI salutes, for the excellent work done, the research assistants and the film recording initiative team that went to the field during the course of this project. The project management acknowledges that the fieldwork was not easy due to budget constraints. But, thanks to the passion of the participants and a lot of voluntary work until the very end, the project has come to a successful conclusion. The participants were actually motivated by the fact that they would like to see practitioners in these activities benefit from what they do and achieve sustainable livelihoods and employment creation.



3. County to County field work

The first round of field intervention started on Monday 13.02.2012 and ended on Wednesday 15.02.2012. This followed rigorous training sessions in Nairobi during January and early February for area supervisors. It was decided to train only the area supervisors centrally in Nairobi, and avoid bringing trainees to Nairobi from upcountry, this to avoid excessive costs with regard to transportation and accommodation in Nairobi for many trainees. Once the area supervisors were trained in Nairobi they were expected to go to train research assistants, sourced from their assigned areas, mostly university students from the local universities, those competent in IT and studying subjects related to the research, such as Anthropology.

The WESTERN NYANZA REGION was visited first, comprising 10 Counties: Migori, Nyamira, Vihiga, Homabay, Siaya, Busia, Kisumu, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kisii. Reports from the field recounted many challenges, among which was internet failure, resulting in the necessity to photocopy the research tool and physically administer it; there were unexpected costs due travelling or walking vast distances in search of identified artists/creative businesses; there were also unrealistic demands from guides and helpers for compensation for their services; a need arose for interpreters of indigenous languages where extra compensation was required. The field workers, however, were ingenious enough to ensure they did the interviews despite the extra expenses, hoping to be compensated by the Secretariat. The project Secretariat, notwithstanding, was receptive to the challenges and made adjustments as required. With regard to raising awareness, the local media houses expected a good budget in their favour in order to cooperate.

The second round of field intervention took place in the RIFT VALLEY REGION, from Monday 27.02.2012 to Wednesday 01.03.2012, comprising 10 Counties: Nakuru, Westpokot, Kericho, Elgeyo- Marakwet, Bomet, Uasin gishu, Nandi, Transzoia, Narok , Baringo. From the experience of the first round, internet connectivity was not expected to be very reliable. As a precaution, the researchers went to the field armed with hard copies of the questionnaire. This had necessitated numerous photocopies to be made and collated in the office on the week-end of 24th, 25th, & 26th February 2012. During the first round, when internet failed, researchers in the field made arrangements to quickly make photocopies in the rural towns, at times suffering prohibitive costs. This had to be avoided in the second and subsequent rounds by acquiring an effective photocopier for the Secretariat to avoid prohibitive expenses from commercial business photocopiers. Where internet connectivity was okay, the IT system was used. These challenges that were experienced are illustrative of some of the conditions of developing countries where some activities are not predictable, and therefore ingenuity becomes handy; otherwise many objectives may not be achieved.

The content of the questionnaires which were manually filled were later keyed into the IT software system so that the information can be received centrally for analysis. Questionnaires which will be found defective will not be keyed into the system so as not to contaminate the data. It was necessary to repeat the work done in some areas due to the hitches identified above, albeit at extra expense for which methods were found to save for the necessary work.

Fieldwork is just about to end with Data mining, Literature review and In Depth Interviews currently ongoing in May 2012. Strategies for field work in Nairobi and Kiambu counties are being done and work will be completed once the rainy season subsides by end of this month. Analysis of the data will start immediately soon after, to end by July.

Preparations for the Stakeholders’ Conference in view of closing the project have begun with a Call for Papers to be launched in the next one week. It is hoped that issues arising around creative industries will be further tackled with well thought out papers.