UP MAGAZINE Vol 7.07 Photography Issue - Page 37

media WORD UP Tuko Macho ByAisha Ali “ A well known carjacker disappears during a heist, and a video is released online by a masked vigilante asking the city to vote on whether the carjacker should live or die as punishment for his many crimes. The resulting vote—as well as the manhunt for the masked stranger, led by a relentless detective—begins a chain of events that will change the city forever” These were the words that first teased Kenyan viewers to venture online and watch Tuko Macho, a web series by The Nest Collective, set in modern day Nairobi. Since it’s launch on the 16th of June the show, released every Thursday, has garnered well over a hundred thousand views per episode. Directed by Jim Chuchu and starring Njambi Koikai, Tim King’oo and Ibrahim Muchemi, the fast paced and gritty show is an avant garde presence in the local art scene — from the daring concept to the atypical method of communicating to the audience over Facebook. Njoki Ngumi, one of the founders of The Nest Collective, and both Writer and Second Assistant Director on the show, explains that they chose Facebook as their medium to enable conversation with their viewers, they did not want to build inert audiences. The Nest Collective, and Tuko Macho by extension, create artworks meant to elicit reactions and the show needed a platform, a stage, with the space to communicate and engage with their audience. “It is important to respect that the digital space is now a very integral part of human interaction,” says Njoki. Diriye Ossman, a writer for the Huffington post, succinctly captured the vanguard nature of the show in a recent article, “the genius of the show is that it makes the viewer complicit in every action of the vigilante crew. Would you vote yes to kill an armed robber if you had the chance?” After every episode the real life viewers do just that. To Kenyan audiences the show’s topic has a resonance that makes the concept sometimes all too real. In Nairobi, where issues of corruption, police brutality, safety and security are daily topics of discussion, Tuko Macho uses art to engage audiences in larger conversations. “It was for sobering to see how closely people were relating to the events in the show,” says Njoki. They never expected their imagined dystopian world could be so easily mistaken for reality. Though the show’s creators did not consciously connect their narrative to the current political environment, they were aware that it could be compared. For, as Njoki says, “the Nest collective is more interested in exploring citizenship as a function of belonging rather than as a democratic process.” It has long been a function of art to inspire societal change, using creative license to spark conversations. Through Facebook, Tuko Macho does not function as a one-way statement but as an evolving, multi-source dialogue. Based on the conversation happening on Tuko Macho, the theme is resonating with audiences. Viewers are asking if vigilantism is a valid form of justice. Will the show influence reality and lead to vigilantism? As we head towards an election year, it will be interesting to see if this series acts as an important platform for discussing the issues that we are all faced with. Sam Mbugua, Buggz79 on Twitter, has been part of the conversation since the show started. “The theme is very raw and tackles many societal points. From the choice of targets to the role and perception of the police and the commentary by the newsrooms in the series, the scripting is very thoughtful,” says Mbugua, the show “is subtly dealing with issues that are not normally talked about, like prostitution. Every time an episode ends it leaves you with a lot to muse on and ponder.” Using Facebook the Nest C X]B\XYHY]\ZHXYXHY[ZH^H\HZ[Y\Y [\\Y[\Y]\\[\XKZXXX[\[\Z[Y[ ]YY[H\X\][ۈ[X]\HšY\Y]\[YY\[]\H]\\K˝\Z\ؚKB‚]Y\ M