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ROFFEKE is proud to partner with Additude Africa

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with Additude Africa
"Additude Africa promotes time credits as a means of encouraging the youth to be involved in community building activities in order to add a new dimension in their lives and make a positive contribution to their communities."

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with

ROFFEKE is proud to partner with
"Looking for a way to pitch your idea for a television show or movie? offers a next generation platform for creators of original ptiches for TV, film and digital media to connect directly with Hollywood producers and studio executives."


Friendship (networking), Fun (experimentation), Freedom (purpose, empowering, transparency)


ROFFEKE logo by Jozie of Kenyan band 'Murfy's Flaw'

ROFFEKE is a member of the Universal Film and Festival Organization

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Comments on "The ABC of ROFFEKE" Screenings (September 2015 at iHub)

I liked all the films especially the one for Superman [“This is Joe”] and the last one which was longer [“ Frontman ”]. I look forward to at...

The Indie Bible

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Friendship: ROFFEKE Official Selections 2023 (Partial Listing)

“Bad Syne” by Illysa Spencer and the transmedia tripartite by Robert David Duncan “Alley Senses”, “Alley of Lost Friends” and “Old Man’s World” speak to and with each other, even though they have many differences. Bad Syne is longer (15 minutes) than all three of Robert’s microfilms (5 minutes 40 seconds in total). Robert uses a smartphone and artificial intelligence. Bad Syne is a student project filmed in Armenia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. while Robert’s microfilms are three of very many that he has done over the years (including "Room 254 Spinoza Hotel" that I had the honour of being a part of).

One similarity is that both Bad Syne and Robert’s microfilms feature street art/graffiti. About Alley Senses, Robert says: “I was revisiting some alley footage I had shot and was struck by the energy and sensory vibrancy of it, raw sound and all. I decided to capture some of its essence and share it in this film – enjoy!” The first few minutes of Bad Syne feature a graffiti artist in the middle of creating his street art as we hear his views via voice over: “…establishment, you’re not thinking about the better good of people by surrounding them by monochromatic, flat, dry and just dead-looking, absence of life environment.”

Both Bad Syne and Robert’s microfilms are about friendship. In Bad Syne: “Two artists collaborate on music and life in an epic roadtrip” while the three microfilms are “interconnected pieces on themes of friendship and art.” You can check out the Alley of Lost Friends transmedia story world at

The theme of friendship and art also shines through in “Time”, a screenplay by Mario Luis Telles: “After trying their luck at rock and roll fame, 4 friends embark on a hilarious journey to get their fame and fortune.”

Creative differences are part and parcel of the friendship and art package. The key is to know how to navigate these differences. “So it goes” touches on this topic. Director Jenna Cornell writes that it is “a beautiful song written by musician, producer and filmmaker Marc Golde. Tackling some of the current issues we face, it reminds us that we are all in this together. We all have common humanity even if we disagree.”

Patti Smith, Horses and ROFFEKE Official Selections - The White Horse, Trickster and The Heaviest Order featuring Greta Thunberg

Today is Patti Smith’s birthday, the “Godmother of Punk”. I discovered her during the season 2 finale of Millennium, a series by X-Files creator Chris Carter. Michael John Petty writes in that one of the best moments in The Fourth Horsemen/The Time Is Now (Season 2, Episodes 22-23) is “Lara Means’ disturbing psychotic break to the tune of Patti Smith’s “Horses”.

The Millennium website gives the correct name of the song, which is often understandably mistitled as simply “Horses”:

“The Millennium episode The Time Is Now contains the following music by Patti Smith:

  • Land: Horses/Land of 1000 Dances/La Mer(de)

Heard during the intense motel cabin scene where Lara Means, (depicted through the use of various montages, imagery and stock photography) slips into insanity after failing to come to terms with the knowledge revealed to her by the Millennium Group.”

In “You’ve never heard Patti Smith’s‘Horses’?!” Charlie Kaplan writes that the protagonist’s (Johnny’s) “emotional collapse is a herd of horses, "white shining silver studs with their nose in flames".

Patti Smith’s iconic song could also work well in Goran Mihailov’s short film titled “The White Horse” where “A couple's daily routine is interrupted by an unexpected threat.”

Both “The White Horse” and Rob York’s screenplay titled “Trickster” feature a horse and a girl. Rob York’s screenplay is “Based upon a true story a wise old horse narrates his extraordinary life. After a near death accident he finds the meaning of life through the eyes of a special needs little girl.”

According to his writer biography, Rob York “…is a distinguished screenwriter whose passion for storytelling rivals his love for horses…Among his accolades, York proudly holds numerous awards for his standout screenplay, "Trickster" earning 87 awards in 23 countries…While Rob's talent in crafting captivating scripts is evident, it's his passion for horses that truly sets him apart. With a deep understanding of these majestic creatures, he brings an authentic touch to equestrian-themed stories, painting vivid portraits of the bond between humans and horses…Rob's other home away from home is working at the D6 Movie Horse Ranch in Apple Vally California, the home of Roy Rodgers. Rob works directly with the legendary horse trainer Ty Nitti who is one in a few horse trainers in the world who has mastered all three disciplines of Spanish, English, and Western. Rob is the direct assistant for Ty horse wrangling, stunt coordinating, and qualifying professional stuntmen in the movie industry. As Rob embarks on new projects and collaborations, there's no doubt that his unique blend of Texas roots, California spirit, and unwavering passion for horses will continue to shine through in every script he crafts, captivating audiences and leaving a lasting impression on the world of cinema.”

The Heaviest Order by Peter Böving is a stop-motion short film featuring Greta Thunberg who “places a significant order at a bakery.” According to the director’s statement: “The film begins with musical references to the Thuringian children's song "Backe, backe, Kuchen" (Bake, bake, cake). This simple song is fundamentally enumerative in content, essentially a pure baking recipe. Its simplicity and clarity radiate a "healthy" approach to food. In other words: baking - simple - analog! In the short film, this cake is created at the request of a young activist, even though the accompanying elements may remind one somewhat of the US short film series "The Little Rascals." The intended feel-good atmosphere serves primarily the purpose of creating the greatest possible anticipation for the punchline in the finale, which puts the issue of food waste at the center of the film.”

Greta Thunberg’s birthday is four days after Patti Smith’s. In January 2020, Jennifer Velez wrote on “If you follow punk rock legend Patti Smith, you’re likely aware of her fondness for Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg. The singer posted tributes to the teen throughout 2019 and didn’t leave out posting one on Thunberg’s birthday, Jan 3.”

Patti Smith appears in Chris Gero's “The Sound of Us”, a documentary that attempts to answer the questions: “What is music? What is music to you?” Patti Smith’s answer? “It contains the essence of the human soul, one could say.”

Friday, December 8, 2023

Why "Mono" is a comedy-horror film

Yesterday, I watched the very entertaining and aptly-titled film “Mono”. It brought back interesting memories of my time in a boarding high school. I remember those four years with mixed feelings. There were moments of comedy, joy, sadness, rebellion and always, always, the underlying feeling of “I want to go home”, which was the title of the very first poem I ever wrote, during my first weeks as a form one student -  a “mono”.

What makes "Mono" a comedy-horror film? The comedic elements are very clear. Upon reflection, I picked out the following horror elements:

TRAPPED: It’s right there in the name. Boarding. No going home. No escape.

MONSTERS: Two monsters are portrayed in the film: physical monsters (bullies) and psychological monsters. Psychological monsters are usually brought to life by the physical monsters and are outlined in the Psychology Today article by Karl Albrecht, The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share: “These fears include extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, and ego death."

PSYCHOLOGICAL DEATH – Thankfully, there are no physical deaths in the film but the psychological deaths or ego deaths are many. Albrecht explains ego death as follows: “… humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.”

The film’s TRAILER shows us some examples of ego deaths

“Whatever your parents taught you stays at home.”

Corporal punishment.

One's food being taken by the older students.

“Why are monos taking window seats?”

A concerned mother asks her son: “What happened to your face?”

Being insulted by those in authority: “Your head is full of porridge.”

I was in high school when the first ever radio station to play rock music was begun. Perhaps, my experiences in boarding school helped me to appreciate this music that I had never heard of before. Bands like U2 with their anthemic songs. Like “Pride (In the name of love):

“Originally Bono wanted to write a song about Ronald Reagan’s arrogant pride in his military power, which inevitably led to heightened nuclear tensions during the Cold War. However, after reading biographies on Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, he decided to focus on the pride ingrained in the causes of the African-American Civil Rights movement, and the comparison between the violent and nonviolent approaches each leader took.” (

Female rock stars like Alanis Morrissette who through songs like “You oughta know” (1995) made it okay to express dissatisfaction:

And I'm here, to remind you

Of the mess you left when you went away

It's not fair, to deny me

Of the cross I bear that you gave to me

You, you, you oughta know

Playful, fun yet thought-provoking pop-rock songs, reminders that life is complex but life is still good. Songs like Hanson’s “Mmbop” (1997) and Desree’s “You gotta be” (1994)

You have so many relationships in this life

Only one or two will last

You go through all the pain and strife

Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast

Oh, so hold on the ones who really care

In the end they'll be the only ones there

And when you get old and start losing your hair

Can you tell me who will still care?


In “Mono” we get to see the beginnings of relationships that may last a lifetime. The beauty of this film is that it has potential for so many spin-offs: the main characters in their last year of high school, the main characters in their first year of university, the main characters as adults, the main characters as old men losing their hair, recalling their days as monos…J

One of the characters that stood out for me was the female literature teacher who positively impacted the monos. She challenged them without breaking them, chastised them without belittling them.

Listen as your day unfolds

Challenge what the future holds

Try and keep your head up to the sky

Lovers, they may cause you tears

Go ahead, release your fears

Stand up and be counted

Don't be ashamed to cry (Yes, there was a scene where two monos cried).

You gotta be

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser

You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger

You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together

All I know, all I know, love will save the day

Herald what your mother said

Read the books your father read

Try to solve the puzzles in your own sweet time

Some may have more cash than you

Others take a different view

My oh my, eh, eh, eh

It’s no wonder that the monos respected this literature teacher so much that they…well, you have to watch the movie to find out! J

Friday, December 1, 2023

Interview: Mildred Achoch and Orlando Greenhill of Black History of Rock n Roll

On 18th November 2023, I had the great honour of being interviewed by Orlando Greenhill of Black History of Rock n Roll. Below is the transcript of the first few minutes.

0:01:46 – Mildred Achoch

I got into rock music through country music. My dad had an amazing record collection with the usual: Elvis Presley, Charlie Pride, Skeeter Davis. And then, around 1998, this radio station FM radio station the first ever in Kenya opened and then it just introduced us to a whole new world of rock. It was soft rock, it was more pop, but I mean, for someone who had never experienced this kind of music, I found it amazing. You know, bands like U2, all those great 90s bands. 

 (NOTE: Capital FM begun in 1996)

And then, around 2004, I started a Yahoo group. Remember Yahoo? Yeah, I started a Yahoo group called Kenya Rocks because I just wanted to connect with other people who like rock music. I thought I was the only one in this country who loved rock music, because that time the Internet was very new and so we were not connected to each other. So I started that Yahoo group and, slowly by slowly, I got to know other rock fans in Kenya. Many of them actually went on to form bands.


  ROFFEKE Conference: Daniel Kobimbo - Blogger at Heavy and the Beast
In this session of #roffekeconference Daniel Kobimbo gives an overview of the #Kenyanrock scene beginnings and who inspired him to do what he does today.

I must give a shout out to Rash. It's a band that came much later, in 2013, but they're celebrating their 10th anniversary today. They're actually having a show as we speak. So hi, Rash, congratulations! In that Yahoo group there were also members of Murfy’s Flaw, Last Year's Tragedy. Last Year’s Tragedy are also performing at that Rash show today. 


And then 2008, Facebook. We all decided to go over to Facebook and so I stopped, you know, the Yahoo group. I was also going through some life changes, so I stopped the Yahoo group. But then at that time I had already gotten this idea for a film festival that showcased rock music so that's how ROFFEKE came about. It's rock and roll film festival Kenya, but I pronounce it Rafiki, and the mission is just to promote rock music in Kenya via film. Because I love film. I am actually a screenwriter by profession and I love rock music. So it was just natural to combine the two. And that's what I've been doing for the past - is it 10, 15 years? I enjoy it, it's a passion. I'm not making loads of money out of this, I'm just passionate about it. And now I'm intentionally concentrating more about educating people that, you know, rock music is not mzungu music. Mzungu is Swahili for white man.

                            The African Roots of Rock 'n' Roll - A poem by Diego Serebrennik


It's still a difficult thing to convince people of because the media just shows the white side of rock music. So when you tell someone, no, no, it came from black gospel music and blues, people don't really connect easily, but it's just a passion of mine. I enjoy history and music history also. So I'll just keep on doing it. I'll keep on doing it as long as I can because I love it. 

                Kenya Taifu Letu (Kenya Our Country) composed by Gideon Victor Mwanyigha


We are also dealing with the effects of colonialism. We were colonized by the British so anything that remotely smells of the white man is usually not accepted readily by some people.

I always say, you don't have to like rock music. You're actually free to hate rock music, but please hate it for the right reasons. Just hate it because you don't like it. Don't hate it because you think it's white man's music or because it's the devil's music or because it's just noise. Those are wrong reasons. Hate it because it's not your preference. That's a very valid reason not to like rock music.

So yeah, it's an uphill task but I enjoy it. I learn something new every day. There’s so much history that I don't know. I thought I knew but I clearly don't know. And when I check out some of your posts I realize that well, I mean, it could not be helped because we only had access to corporate media and we only heard what was in corporate media. But I like what you're doing because I get to learn about all these other black bands. I saw a very recent post, I think you posted it today, about a black glam rock band. I did not know that there was such a band in that particular genre. Yeah, it's always fun to find out these things. Not to get too philosophical but I think part of it is healing for us who were colonized and slave trade and all that stuff. I think it's a healing process just to find out that this beautiful music, this powerful music, we had something to do with it. In my opinion, I think it's very healing.

(Transcript generated by, edited by Mildred Achoch)

You can watch the entire interview HERE

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Artificial Intelligence and Horror: A Halloween Reflection

I was interviewed by Irene Mugo of the Daily Nation about how artificial intelligence is impacting me as a creative. I mentioned that when it comes to AI, I am an optimist but I am also aware of the drawbacks.

Some of my interview answers did not make it to the article so I will share them here. Regarding the drawbacks, I said:

One challenge posed by AI in the creative space is bias. Most, if not all, AI tools are trained on data that is largely Western. This issue is being addressed and corrected but more still needs to be done to ensure that AI tools are representative of diverse cultures, philosophies and aesthetics. Another challenge is the disruption that AI will cause and is causing in the creative space. Many creative jobs will be rendered obsolete or will change drastically due to AI. This presents both a threat and an opportunity. Creatives who upskill and learn to use AI to complement their creative process will be able to ride this AI wave rather than drown in it. I also think there is a big opportunity for educational institutions to begin incorporating topics such as "AI and Creativity" into their curriculum."

I subscribe to David Shapiro's YouTube channel and in his video titled "AGI Revolution: How Businesses, Governments and Individuals can Prepare", he outlines some of the horrors of AI. In the section about "Forever Jobs" (minute 26:14), he points out that even jobs such as "childcare, entertainment, and hospitality" which are deemed "likely to persist due to intrinsic human desire for human-performed services" will not be spared by the AI monster.

I am a fan of psychological horror, where the monster is invisible and therefore more horrific because our imagination becomes very helpful in filling in the blanks.

Artificial Intelligence is that unseen monster that, according to some experts, may literally end the world.

In his video (minute 24:28) David Shapiro talks about Emotional Adaptation, "The range of emotional responses people may experience in response to significant changes..." He lists some of these emotions: "uncertainty, fear, anger, existential dread, anxiety, hope and awe."

One of the interview questions that Irene Mugo asked me was whether artificial intelligence will threaten creativity. I hope my answer to her question will inspire hope and awe in all creatives as we face the wonders and horrors of AI.

As an optimist and as a creative, I do not think AI poses a threat to creativity. Yes, AI can mimic creativity and sometimes can produce creations that are better than what human creatives can produce. However, this in no way is a threat to creativity. The creativity of AI does not take away my creativity. Comparison is the enemy here. I create because it gives me joy, it is a way for me to express myself, to communicate and to create value. There are other creators - both human and AI - who can create things that look or sound better than my creations. However, there is only one me, and no one - whether human or AI - has my unique perspective, experiences, values and beliefs. One could argue that soon, human beings will be able to upload their consciousness to robots and duplicate themselves...but that is a conversation for another time! To quote lines from a song called  “Sons of Robots” by one of my favourite Kenyan rock bands "Rash":

“with all of their technology, they can feel no more.” 

I think as long as we creatives continue to feel, we will always be a step ahead of artificial intelligence.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

The ROFFEKE Chatbot sheds light on ROFFEKE and Experimentation

(The ROFFEKE Chatbot was created via

ROFFEKE Bot: Hi! What can I help you with?

Mildred Achoch: ROFFEKE and Experimentation

ROFFEKE Bot: ROFFEKE values experimentation as part of its core principles. It believes in the power of trying new things, pushing boundaries, and exploring innovative ideas. Through experimentation, ROFFEKE aims to create unique and groundbreaking content in the world of TV, film, and digital media.

(Below is Diego Serebrennik's reading of his poem, accompanied by a video created by AI)


Mildred: Tell me more about ROFFEKE and experimentation

ROFFEKE Bot: ROFFEKE embraces experimentation as a fundamental aspect of its mission. It encourages filmmakers and creators to think outside the box, take risks, and explore unconventional approaches in their work. By fostering an environment of experimentation, ROFFEKE aims to push the boundaries of storytelling and challenge traditional norms in the industry. This allows for the discovery of fresh perspectives, innovative techniques, and groundbreaking narratives that captivate audiences and leave a lasting impact. Through its support of experimentation, ROFFEKE strives to empower filmmakers to unleash their creativity and bring their unique visions to life.

(Below is Martin's reading of his poem "African Drummer" accompanied by a video of his avant-garde drumming)

Mildred: Tell me even more about ROFFEKE and experimentation

ROFFEKE Bot: Certainly! ROFFEKE's commitment to experimentation goes beyond just encouraging filmmakers to think outside the box. It actively seeks out and supports projects that push the boundaries of traditional storytelling and explore new artistic territories. ROFFEKE believes that experimentation is essential for the growth and evolution of the film industry.

Through its various programs, workshops, and seminars, ROFFEKE provides a platform for filmmakers to learn, collaborate, and experiment with different techniques, styles, and genres. It encourages them to take risks, challenge conventions, and explore innovative ways of storytelling.

ROFFEKE also values the feedback and input of its audience. It recognizes that experimentation can sometimes be polarizing, with some viewers embracing the boldness of new ideas while others may find them challenging. However, ROFFEKE believes that through open dialogue and constructive criticism, experimentation can lead to new perspectives and a deeper appreciation for the art of filmmaking.

By embracing experimentation, ROFFEKE aims to foster a vibrant and dynamic film community that celebrates creativity, diversity, and the exploration of new frontiers. It strives to be a catalyst for change and a platform for filmmakers to showcase their unique visions and push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of cinema.

I hope that provides you with a deeper understanding of ROFFEKE's commitment to experimentation. Is there anything else I can assist you with?

(End of chat)

In September, I (Mildred Achoch) experimented with the platform Heysummit, where I organized ROFFEKE Conference 2023. I found the platform to be easy to use and support was offered whenever I had questions or problems. Below is a short video of screenshots from ROFFEKE Conference 2023.

A big thank you to all the speakers and to

Thursday, August 31, 2023

ROFFEKE Chatbot via

I (Mildred Achoch) created a ROFFEKE Chatbot courtesy of, using content from the ROFFEKE blog. I then asked the chatbot some questions. Below is a sample of the answers:

What is ROFFEKE?

ROFFEKE, pronounced "rafiki," is a rock 'n' roll film festival in Kenya. Its mission is to promote rock music in Kenya by dispelling myths and misconceptions through the medium of film. The festival showcases local and international rock 'n' roll films and music videos for educational and entertainment purposes. It also organizes workshops, forums, and seminars related to various aspects of rock music and the film industry. Additionally, ROFFEKE provides a platform for emerging and established rock bands, both local and international.

What does ROFFEKE do?

ROFFEKE has several objectives. Firstly, it showcases local and international rock 'n' roll films and music videos for educational and entertainment purposes. Secondly, it organizes workshops, forums, and seminars related to various aspects of rock music and the film industry. Lastly, it provides a platform for emerging and established rock bands, both local and international. These activities contribute to the promotion of rock music in Kenya and help dispel myths and misconceptions associated with the genre.

How can I get involved with ROFFEKE?

To get involved with ROFFEKE, you can consider a few options. Firstly, you can submit your own rock 'n' roll film or music video to be considered for the festival. You can do this by visiting the festival's page and following the submission guidelines. Secondly, you can attend the festival as an audience member and support the showcased films and bands. Lastly, you can explore opportunities to volunteer or collaborate with ROFFEKE by reaching out to their team directly through their official channels. Remember, being part of the rock community and showing your support for the festival's mission are great ways to get involved with ROFFEKE.

 You can ask the ROFFEKE Chatbot your questions HERE

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Of Little Wings and Elevator to the Top Floor

 On 14th July, 2023 I attended a virtual event to commemorate World Youth Skills Day, which is celebrated every 15th of July. Later that day, I listened to a podcast that really resonated with me and that I felt was timely advice for today’s youth who will face unprecedented challenges…and opportunities!

Below are some of Jason Fried’s thoughts that struck a chord with me as the Founder, CEO, Chief AI Officer, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Officer, Marketer and Cheerleader of ROFFEKE😄

Minute 11:38 – “There is no secret sauce here…this is hard, all of it is hard so you’ve got to find a way to do something that is going to be enjoyable. In that joy, you find more ease. It’s easier to do something hard when you like the way you are doing it…the amount of pressure that’s put on you by other people to do things a certain way, to perform a certain way, to show results in a certain way is not enjoyable and it doesn’t bring an ease to the work. It brings stress and anxiety to the work.”

Minute 16: 33 - “You have a choice as an entrepreneur to decide what [business] model you want…but you also need to check your ambitions a little bit too, grow slowly, grow under control. You have to be able to handle it ego-wise, that maybe you are not going to have 7 million customers…it doesn’t matter what your economics are compared to someone else. What do you need to cover your expenses and generate a profit? If you can keep your ego in check, then you can recognize that you are not competing with other people’s egos, other people’s company size, just do your own thing. If you can get into that mindset, it’s a really wonderful place to be…"

[The short film Elevator to the Top Floor deals with this issue of keeping one's ego in check. Read the ROFFEKE interview with the director,Litvinov, HERE  Excerpt from the interview: “We had little time to shoot (about two days) and a very modest production budget. But thanks to the help of like-minded people and the production company "Potential", we were able to cope with all this. The shooting was not easy due to my inexperience. Many of the things that I wanted to see from the actors didn't get to be fully realized. But I'm not ashamed of the result - it's important."

Minute 10:48 - “The other thing that’s nice about staying small is that you can achieve profitability faster. Your overhead is lower, your costs are lower. This is strangely a forgotten thing in the tech world; cost. Everyone is thinking about revenue. Cost is important. Hugely important."

Minute 10:21 – “…constantly thinking about what really matters and what doesn’t. It requires you to figure out what not to do…build a muscle that helps you figure out what not to do. That’s a good habit to form.”

Minute 13:54 – “For us we value independence more than anything else. Do we miss opportunities? I’m sure. We left money on the table? Absolutely. But we wouldn’t have traded any of it for what we have.”

You can listen to the entire awesome podcast episode HERE

This episode reminded me of the lovely bluegrass-flavoured protest song “Little Wings”by Kris Delmhorst:

“Now I don't want to be a jet airliner, I just want to be a little bird

I don't want to rip the skies wide open, I just want my song to be heard

And I don't want to be state of the art, I don't want to get there overnight

I just want to be part of all this beauty, want to be part of all this flight on little wings"

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Public Participation Workshop (2023) and ROFFEKE Conference (2020)

In 2020, during the Covid Pandemic, I (Mildred Achoch) organized an online ROFFEKE Conference where various players in the Kenyan rock community shared their triumphs and challenges. On June 19th and 20th, 2023, I attended a Public Participation workshop organized by KICTANET and ICNL. The workshop was informative and hands-on and it inspired me to go back and reflect on the 2020 ROFFEKE Conference in light of Public Participation principles.

Below is my preliminary attempt. The goal is not perfection, rather, it is to begin putting into practice what I learned during the workshop.



“Cost of equipment. This equipment is not cheap…the cost of insurance is also very high…it is difficult for artists to buy the equipment, store the equipment, maintain the equipment and pay for insurance…” - George Gachiri, rhythm guitarist of Kanyeki. Also guitarist of Hybrid Intuition.(Minute 5:16)

  • Policies about instruments?
  • National Creatives Summit : review of policies and legal instruments. Progress of policy reviews?

“The main challenge we face as a band that plays predominantly rock music is that…you are competing with other genres…If other genres of music have a larger audience, that means from a marketing standpoint, you find radio station playing them…” – George Gachiri, rhythm guitarist of Kanyeki. Also guitarist of Hybrid Intuition.

  • Summit: digital platform for creatives.
  • When?
  • Process of submitting creative work?
  • Guidelines to reduce bias and discrimination?

“It’s not easy to shoot [music videos] in Nairobi. Getting permits is a problem. With “Hello Light” we went at night… set up quickly, shoot and move out before anyone notices anything…if you wait to get all the permits, it’s just too much of a process.” – Murfy’s Flaw. Question 5, minute 1:18

  • Governor Sakaja: permission for filming to be done in Nairobi. 
  • Is it actually safe to do so or will there be running battles with Kanjo? (“Sakaja waives permit fees for photographers and filmmakers in Nairobi. September 28th 2022, “Sakaja stated that he was keeping his promise to the creative economy to make a living without being harassed by authorities.”

“…support or finances to foot the video-shooting bill.” – James, Lead singer of Kanyeki. (Minute 3:11)

Wishlist: Soundtrack for film and TV. “It would be a great thing to have bands’ music playing to support the local scene.” –Cyrus, Kanyeki drummer. (Minute 2:19)

  • Creatives summit: free legal services. (Minute 1:10:01 and 1:11:26) 
  • Process of accessing legal services?


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Interview: Martin H. Samuel - Award-winning songwriter born in Kenya

Mildred Achoch: We met via You commented regarding my contest "The African Roots of Rock ‘n' Roll": 'Pleased to virtually meet a fellow Kenyan… I was born in Mombasa, started playing drums at an early age and proud of my band's commemorative brick, 20 rows directly above 'John', in the Liverpool Cavern Club Wall of Fame.'

Apart from your memories of being abducted by a monkey and enjoying the spectacle of flamingos in Nakuru, what other memories do you have of Kenya, especially memories related to music?

MARTIN H. SAMUEL: Some time after the monkey episode, we visited Lake Victoria where I waded out 'til the water was over my head and my Mother had to rescue me as my Father, who wasn't afraid of crocodiles, couldn't swim!

In Nairobi, as we lived nearby what was then known as the Coryndon Museum, I went there frequently and met Mary and Louis Leakey who invited me into their laboratory to show me what they were working on.

How cool was that!

The couple asked me (and my pals) to collect anything that hopped, skipped, jumped or crawled, which we did, and donated to what was to become the Nairobi Snake Park.

Other than my first gig as a drummer in kindergarten, my musical memories of Kenya have unfortunately faded... except for... when I was in the cubs, one 5th of November, Nairobi-born Roger Whittaker was hired to entertain the pack.

We were seated on the ground around him (having 'dibbed' and 'dobbed') and after each song I would light a coloured firework-type phosphorous match ~ on which he commented.

I may even have started the later trend of flicking lighters at concerts!

Mildred: You started playing drums at an early age. Was that a natural inclination or were you encouraged by a mentor?

Martin: Definitely a natural... I always knew I was a drummer.

Not only do I have as close to perfect time as any man can have, I can play differing tempos with my hands and feet at the same time and keep them in time (or not).

It's totally useless unless considered some odd form of jazz!

No mentor per se but, as a kid, I learned orchestration, such as it was, by jamming with the locals who taught me not to 'step on the toes', musically-speaking, of other musicians.

In other words, play your part, nothing more nothing less, at the correct time, never earlier nor later and, especially, if it's not called for, don't play.

Mildred: Good advice! Did your parents encourage you and if so, how? Was there anyone who discouraged you from playing drums and how did you deal with that?

Martin: No encouragement at all in the beginning... years later, they bought me my first and second drum set.

Being ambidextrous, I set my first drums up right-handed but left-footed!

When I saw a photo of Ringo behind the drums with The Beatles I thought, 'Something looks odd here' and switched mine to right-footed.

Only to find out, Ringo is left-handed but plays a right-handed drum kit.

At first, my parents were disappointed in my career choice but, as I explained to them, it's not a 'choice', it's a 'calling'... you either have it or you don't.

Mildred: Why was your band (Heatwave) honoured specifically at the Liverpool Cavern Club Wall of Fame?

Martin: The original Cavern Club honoured every Artist who 'walked the boards' (performed there) between certain years and, having played there for an entire week in 1970, we received our very own personal brick.  By coincidence, our lead guitarist was from Liverpool.

Mildred: You were interviewed by Frank Carlyle on the Frank Carlyle Show in 2016. You recounted your experience playing again at the Cavern Club, saying that you couldn't quite remember exactly how the songs went but you gave it your own unique spin and played your version, and that ultimately, it was about having fun. ROFFEKE's motto is "Friendship, Fun, Freedom". In your opinion, how important is it to have fun, not only in playing music or pursuing any other passion but also in life in general?

Martin: The band leader, whom I'd not met before, kicked off every song without telling me what the band was about to play... it may be a tradition as, in my experience, drummers are not considered musicians!

I had heard most of the songs and had even played some previously, but it was all so long ago, however, we must have sounded OK as the dance floor filled instantly on every song and even the doorman abandoned his position and came downstairs to listen.

It is my belief we're all born with a built-in 'Fun Meter' which should be checked fairly frequently as, if we're not having fun, what's the point?!
One should not expect 'said meter to constantly be in the red (Fun zone) but, if it rarely is, then something needs to be changed for the better.
That writ, I wrote a silly song called 'Fun With You': 
Also, a song about Freedom:

Mildred: According to your LinkedIn profile, you have won many songwriting competitions. What's your secret?

Martin: Dedication, determination, persistence, a way with words (as a lyricist) and a 'good ear'.

Mildred: Any tips for budding songwriters?

Martin: Follow your heart, do what floats your boat (even if you're landlocked).
If a composer writes for anyone/anything but him/herself, he/she's doomed him/herself to disappointment... even then, when writing for oneself, there's no guarantee you'll be appreciated or recognised.
Rick Nelson said it best in 'Garden Party'... "You can't please everyone so you got to please yourself."

Co-writing, as I have done and still do, is a major plus as two, or more, heads and hearts can (sometimes) be better than one.
e.g., Lennon & McCartney, Bacharach & David, Goffin & King, Gilmour & Waters, Holland–Dozier–Holland, Jagger & Richards, Leiber & Stoller (some of my favourite songwriters).

If any Kenyan composer cares to collaborate, I'm always up for co-writing.

Mildred: In your opinion, what makes a great song?

A lyric the audience can relate to/identify with, or tells a good story and a memorable melody over a catchy beat.

Mildred: What would you say are your top ten favourite songs of all time?

Martin: Aaaaagghhhhh!!!!!

OK, here's five of mine followed by five by others... in alphabetical order: 
'Can't Stay Mad', written/recorded solo and aired on the BBC. 
'Heart Full Of Love', co-written with and recorded by Lisa Nemzo. 
'If Love Makes The World Go Round', co-written with John Franta, recorded by Brion Bell. 
'Slave To The Grind', written about my Father who worked for E.A.R. & H. and my Mother, secretary to the Speaker of the House in Nairobi Parliament, co-written with Brian Hadley.
Be My Rock’, co-written with Renard Cohen, recorded by Ms. Nancy Reed: 

'A Whiter Shade Of Pale', co-written by Brooker & Reid (and Johann Sebastian Bach), recorded by Procol Harum.
'Over The Rainbow', co-written by Arlen & Harburg, sung by Judy Garland.
'She's Leaving Home', co-written by Lennon & McCartney, recorded by The Beatles.
'Sultans of Swing', by Mark Knopfler, recorded by Dire Straits.
'Time', co-written by Waters, Gilmour, Wright & Mason, recorded by Pink Floyd.

Mildred: Your views on artificial intelligence?

Martin: The name says it all... artificial!
No thank you.
Referring to AI, Alan Turing, 'Grandfather' of the computer, said, "If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent."
I believe the reverse is also true, 'If a machine is expected to be intelligent, it cannot also be infallible.'

Mildred: Any tips or advice for Kenyan rock bands?

Martin: Draw on local music and make it your own – e.g., if Paul Simon had not visited South Africa, he may never have heard and used their rhythm(s).
Do it for love, as in a labour of, or don't do it at all.

Links to me and some of my music:
Heatwave: (Here and Here)
Bright Eye Band: (Here, Here and Here

Sunny 'n' the Cut: (Here

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Africa Day, Africans Rising, Borderless Africa, Mastercard Edtech event at Ihub, African Diaspora

On 25th May, Africa Day is celebrated in Africa and all over the world. I first celebrated it in May 2019, when I attended “Google’s Africa Day Outreach: Creative Bootcamp” at Nairobi Garage. 

I'm in the purple checked sweater.

In 2023, ROFFEKE celebrated Africa Day with Africans Rising under the theme of “Borderless Africa”. The ROFFEKE Borderless Africa YouTube playlist features short films and music videos submitted to ROFFEKE since 2015, that have been created by or feature Africans in the continent or in the diaspora. 

The Kilimanjaro Declaration 2.0 was adopted on 31st August 2022 in Arusha Tanzania. In the declaration, the 2022 All African Movement Assembly (AAMA) declared that:

1. Africa is a rich continent, and her wealth belongs to all her people. We commit to fight for economic justice qualified by socio-political development.

2. Africans have a diverse, rich, and powerful heritage that is important to heal ourselves and repair the damage done by neoliberalism to our humanity and environment. Being Africans and embracing African philosophies such as “Ubuntu” are sources of our pride.

3. African youth and women are a critical foundation for building the success of our continent and must play a central role in building the Africa We Want for Unity, Justice, Peace and Dignity. We are committed to building an intergenerational dialogue and strategic collaboration with our elders to advance a shared vision.

4. Africa’s diaspora, whether displaced through slavery and colonialism or part of modern-day migration occasioned by political, economic and climate change factors, is part of Africa’s history and future. We commit to ensure that their reservoir of knowledge, skills, resources and passion are part of advancing Africa.

Also on Africa Day, I attended (virtually) an event titled “The African Diaspora, Trade, and Investment Symposium”. The event’s YouTube video description: “This #AfricaDay, OECD Development Centre and Minnesota Africans United are gathering investors, policy makers and diasporic groups, to share examples of the many ways African #diasporas engage in private sector development to the benefit of both “mother” and “new” home countries.”

The next day, on 26th May, I attended Mastercard Foundation’s EdTech event that was held at iHub. In the past, iHub has played a role in helping ROFFEKE achieve its mission of promoting rock music in Kenya via film. In September 2015, ROFFEKE held a screening of short films and music videos at iHub. Read some of the attendees' comments HERE

ROFFEKE is passionate about education. On January 24th 2023, ROFFEKE commemorated Education Day with a document highlighting the knowledge shared by ROFFEKE alumni from all over the world. On January 24tth 2022, ROFFEKE commemorated Education Day with a report highlighting the hashtag #edumental which ROFFEKE first used at an Education Day event on January 20th, 2020, right before the pandemic. In that report, I wrote: 

“Why is ROFFEKE – a rock film festival – interested in education? There are many reasons but in short, education is part of the objectives of ROFFEKE. Also, education plays a crucial role in the achievement of ROFFEKE’s mission: to promote rock music in Kenya via film by dispelling rock ‘n’ roll myths and misconceptions.”

The main objectives of ROFFEKE are:

1. To showcase local and international rock ‘n’ roll films and music videos for the purposes of education and entertainment.

2. To organize workshops, forums and seminars related to various aspects of rock music and the film industry.

3. To provide a platform for emerging and established, local and international rock bands.

The Mastercard Foundation Edtech event was inspiring. I sat through the first few presentations by talented Edtech startups namely Snapplify, Easy Elimu, Funky Science, Silabu, Elewa, Arifu and Virtual Essence. Clearly, a lot is being done by Kenyan entrepreneurs to tackle the challenges of education in Kenya and Africa.

Later, as I was reflecting on all these events, I could not help but connect the dots. One speaker at The African Diaspora Trade and Investment Symposium, Christopher Brooks, is a venture capitalist of African descent with a passion for Africa. He pointed out that he was on the lookout for projects he could invest in. I strongly believe that the projects I saw during the Mastercard Foundation Edtech event are ripe for this kind of Afro-cenric investment. Christopher said:

“I have a bias when it comes to this kind of conversation. We invest in tech. We invest in tech specifically because it scales quickly, creates enormous value quickly and then when there is some sort of liquidity event or exit, you can redeploy the gains and it just becomes this ever-expanding economic pie. I’m a big believer in tech. Africa is actually producing right now some of the world’s best innovative technologies. (From minute 49:22 to 49:50)

At this African Diaspora Trade and Investment Symposium, I was inspired by all that the diaspora is doing to help Africa. However, as an African in Africa who sees a lot of opportunities in the “motherland” I begun feeling uncomfortable with the narrative of Africans always being recipients of aid, even if it is from fellow Africans. I asked via the Zoom Q and A feature: How can Africans also help Africans in the diaspora?

In the chat, I made a small contribution that challenged the narrative that African youth only want government jobs. While it is true that many Africans look to government jobs due to the stability they offer, many African youth are entrepreneurial, as evidenced by the Mastercard Foundation Edtech event. I pointed out in the chat that many Africans are interested in and are active in the creative economy.

“The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else” by Hernando de Soto was mentioned by Christopher Brooks. He said: “What I learned as I read that book was that talent is equally distributed among the human population but opportunity is not.” (From minute 40: 49 to 41:08)

I would argue that even this lack of many opportunities in Africa…is actually an opportunity!

Christopher Brooks went on to say: “Our venture capital firm has the goal of creating a world where transformation capital is accessible to all not just to some so that is how we invest. We find really great entrepreneurs of colour with really great ideas and we deploy strategic capital in the right amount at the right time to help those entrepreneurs scale their businesses and eventually exit their businesses creating brand new economic value." (From minute 42:52 to 43:17)

He also said: “I wanna actually go a couple of layers deeper than the current conversation. When Africans were imported to America as slaves, we were told, we black people, were told that we were not fully human. America told black people that they were three-fifths human, and that meta-narrative of less than human has been indoctrinated in people throughout American history." 

(Check out "ROFFEKE University: Lesson 1 - Slave Trade, The Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll" and “Of 'African' Products and 'Mzungu' Music”)

"So one of the things that we must do, we all must, even members of the diaspora, must examine our worldview and ask ourselves, do we really believe that talent is equally distributed across the world, because in many nations, especially developed nations, we’ve been taught that talent is not equally distributed. We’ve taken this darwinistic approach, survival of the fittest, and we’ve basically said that the developed nations are the fittest, the nations that are developing or less developed are not as fit, are not as smart, are not as good, and that is just diabolical and patently untrue. I think the root, the foundation of any solution that has to do with the continent of Africa must be, Africans are brilliant. Africans are capable. Africans are investment-ready. Africans have the best solutions for Africa. If we really believe that, even those of us who are members of the diaspora, we will continue to tap into the genius of the African people that live on the African continent and we will build a better society because it will be deeply informed by those who live and breathe the African air every single day. That’s how we at Brown Venture Group and that’s how I as an individual investor and practitioner look at the world and that’s how I’m approaching the work. The best solutions for Africa come from Africa.” - Christopher Brooks. (From minute 1:06:14 to 1:08:00)