As happens every year, youth talent has been on display during the Kenya National Music Festival that ended on Tuesday. Of course, the winners had an opportunity to perform in the gala concert at State House, Nakuru, at which the best items were presented in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta and some dignitaries, including top Education ministry officials. This is an occasion that the young performers always look forward to and a major source of motivation for them.
However, similar honour has eluded the winners in other co-curricular activities, especially the science fraternity. For a country that aspires for industrial development, science contests where students showcase their innovations are vital. As they wait for the nod from State House, music and national drama festival winners remain assured of an evening with the Head of State every year.
However, it is not enough to have the young musicians and actors perform for the President. The biggest criticism of the drama and music festivals is that though they are a good forum through which talent is identified from an early age, most of it just ends there. As has been demonstrated by Nigeria, India, European countries and the United States, music and drama are avenues through which the youth can become gainfully employed.
Entertainment is big business globally, but it calls for nurturing of talent and investing in it. It is a shame, therefore, that every year, we catch a glimpse of the potential in our youth, and just let it go to waste. This is unforgiveable, considering that not every student can excel in academics.
Indeed, one would have expected the Kenya Film Classification Board to get more involved in nurturing talent instead of its current obsession with censorship and administrative concerns that cannot create a showbiz industry. The roll-out of a competency-based curriculum – which is aimed at providing young people with a holistic education that enables the honing of learners’ talents – is a step in the right direction. Developing drama and music talent is also a great way to defuse the ticking bomb of youth unemployment.