she shapes the city

Angela Wachuka ~ Executive Director of Kwani?

Angela

Angela analyses the world around her deeply and is preoccupied with big themes such as representation, the role of culture and the use of media to portray Africa. As a school girl it was the “cosmopolitan…melting pot” of Braeburn that influenced her to study anthropology and law at the London School of Economics because “I was really interested in not just how cultures are shaped and formed but also how they are governed.”

 

 

Joining the Africa branch of the BBC she found similar souls such as Komla Dumor who were “curious about the portrayal of Africa….(and) invested in forming and shaping the way that news items and all this information about the continent… was being presented”. She had an all round 360 experience on the Focus On Africa Magazine, working on everything from advertising to liasing with the featured writers. It was a role that was to prepare her well for her return to Kenya.

 

 

Despite enjoying the BBC Angela was curious about the developments that were taking place in her hometown. She was “outside looking in” at the change of governance and new freedom of expression that was being tested in Nairobi through publications such as Kwani?. Angela also found that “doing African news and current affairs in London…was a bit of an oxymoron.”

Returning to Nairobi, she linked up with the Founding Editor of Kwani?, Binyavanga Wainaina. She joined the organisation, first as the Managing Editor, and then the Executive Director, a post which she holds to this day. It was however “a deeply confusing time” for Angela. The country which she had been so nostalgic for was under going the post election violence of 2008 and “all hell broke loose…it had never occurred to me that this state called Kenya is something that could disintegrate as you literally just watched it happen.” It also meant that she had to examine what roles of publications like Kwani? could play. Angela believed that they could provide an outlet to vent the frustrations that were being felt by young people in the country. She says that “really informed my commitment to staying here…and being part of the team that makes that a possibility.”

In 2015 Angela says that Kwani? “continues to reflect the different realities that exist” in the country and is a “pulse for creative output”.

 

 

Going forward Angela is interested in shaping the future of publishing through technology. Looking to the movie and music industries for inspiration she believes that affordable, byte-size content will help Kwani? and others reach audiences all the way from Nairobi to Turkana.

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