Makmende craze sweeps the Internet

Wednesday March 24 2010

Just A Band, the group behind the new Makmende fad, say they met under strange circumstances, and have fictional biographies posted on their website. Photo/COURTESY

Just A Band, the group behind the new Makmende fad, say they met under strange circumstances, and have fictional biographies posted on their website. Photo/COURTESY 

By OLIVER MATHENGE

Don’t Google Makmende, Google is still searching for Makmende. The world is not ending because Makmende killed The Antichrist. Barack Obama has just one referee on his CV — Makmende. Michael Joseph of Safaricom gets “okoa jahazi” from Makmende.

These are just some of the one-line phrases that have dominated the Internet over the last two weeks as Kenyans compete to come up with the most fantastic claims about Makmende.

The Makmende phenomenon has hit in a big way on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Some users have added the name Makmende to their own identities. The mystery character described as Kenya’s first viral super hero has even found a place on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia.

Makmende has a website (www.makmende.com) that is arguably one of the most visited by Kenyan Internet users, and clearly the fastest growing fan base on Facebook and Twitter. The biggest accolade night be that within the past fortnight, as the phenomenon has exploded, anti-Makmende pages have come up on the Internet.

So, who is this Makmende and why all the hype? Makmende.com describes him as “your super hero’s super hero”. The latest phenomenon has however been ignited by a video to the song Ha-He by a group going by the name Just A Band. Makmende is a mean and fierce fictional character in the 1970s themed video and played by Kevin “K1” Maina.

Kidnapped girl

In the video, Makmende not only beats up the estate bully but also saves a kidnapped girl from a gang of four men. Makmende cannot be outpaced by those he is chasing and does not even smile in the entire video.

Makmende is however not a new name in the mouths of Kenyans. It was a name used to describe someone, especially boys, who was feeling like a super hero and had the urge to display their skills, which were often borrowed from movies.

One blogger, Archer, (mwanamishale.wordpress.com )explains: “Makmende was a term used way back in the early to mid 1990s to refer to someone who thought he was a super hero. For example, if a boy who had watched one too many kung-fu movies on TV decided to unleash his newly acquired combat skills, he would be asked, “Unajidai Makmende, eh?” (Who do you think you are, Makmende?)!”

Seven years ago, three artistes met at Kenyatta University under conditions they describe as strange. Their fictional biography was posted on their website, which currently gives the message “We got lost... Can you help us get home”.

The biography states that Dan Muli came “from years of touring with a Touareg caravan led by a Nubian beggar”. After an “attempted exorcism” he came back home to work as a comic book restorer.

The same year, Bill Sellanga woke up from “13 years of hypnosis”. When he came to, he found himself living in an “abandoned convent in the outskirts of Nairobi”. All he had in his possession was a guitar.

Jim Chuchu came to the city after “spending years serving coffee in Kilgoris and losing a close friend”. He sought solace in the “sewers of Nairobi” which, he says, have great acoustics.

In the real world, the re-creators of Makmende, formed Just A band while they were studying at the Kenyatta University (KU). They went on to release the song “Iwinyo Piny”, accompanied by a self-made animated music video.

Music was their passion so they did not look for careers in the fields they studied at KU. Dan was studying fine art, and he decided to use the skills learnt in animation.

Bill, who studied Sports Science, is an accomplished guitarist whose skills came in very handy when they formed the band. Jim studied information technology but he chose the camera, becoming the group’s videographer. They rented a house at Adams Arcade, off Ngong Road, and went straight into making music.

The music video for “Iwinyo Piny” was subsequently nominated for the Best African Video Clip at the 2008 Kora Awards. The band also received a nomination for the Best Urban Fusion Group at the 2008 Kisima Awards.

Get this Sunday’s Buzz for a one-on-one interview with Makmende