Ogova Ondego is a film critic and organizer, specializing in African film culture. He organizes the yearly Lola Kenya Screen children's film festival and he publishes the ArtMatters.Info website.

Laborious debut for Kenian puppet satire television show

June 2009 -

The XYZ Show is a 15-minute weekly political satire television show. It first went on air on Kenya's Citizen TV on May 17, 2009. Expectations were high, but it  may not be turning out to be what it was intended to be. 


Behind the screens at the XYZ Show

While its creator, Kenya-based Tanzanian cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa
(GADO) describes it as a "difficult show to do technically", many viewers describe it as a flop with "poorly-developed scripts", "inability to connect with the audience", a "show lacking in immediacy and currency" and that "it has great 3D puppets that need better stories". 

"Saying that "humour is a difficult subject to script", GADO says XYZ is costly in terms of financial and human resources required and that he is looking for a bigger pool of writers "to bring variety to the show."

""We'll need better scripts, puppeteers and delivery time in order to realise a better produced and presented show. Though we still don't have enough money, we can survive for at least a year," GADO says. "We've done only three shows. We are operating with ten puppets though we are preparing more. Confining scripts to the ten and having to keep everything current is a big challenge."

Though this is the first political satire show using puppets to go on air in Africa, broadcasters were reluctant to air it for fear of victimisation in Kenya's shrinking freedom of expression space since Mwai Kibaki came to power in 2002. 

It was during president Daniel Arap Moi's regime (1978-2001) that stand up comedy thrived on television. Comedians poked fun at the President and his ministers. Upon assuming office Kibaki made it clear he did not tolerate criticism. In that political athmosfere, it isn't easy to let a show like XYZ blossom.

The XYZ Show is supported by the Prince Claus Fund.