MARAMASO TRAILER

Film Premiere will be in Atlanta on December 10th at the Goat Farm.
More details soon!!!

Maramaso Trailer from Foresee Films on Vimeo.

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Sarabi’s Launch

At the end of our filming, Sarabi, Mandela’s band, played a show that was suppose to be a launch of their recorded album.  However, through several turn of events, the album was not launched.  The show was not in vain though, it turned out to be the launch of the band to become, ‘the new sound of Afro-Fusion in Kenya.’

Since that show they have been running as fast as they can around Kenya sharing their sound and message.  They have been on morning talk shows, played festivals and clubs.  Big things are in the works.  Sarabi is quickly becoming the voice of Maramaso as frontman, Mandela continues to write powerful message driven music and his band turns them into amazing hits.

Stay tuned, the film is wrapping up and this band is only going to become greater.  It wont be long before the world knows, Maramaso and Sarabi.

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Post Production

for mandelaAll three of us are back in the States and the editing is underway.  So many great things happening.  Will be posting lots more information soon.  Stay tuned.  Big things happening.

 

 

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A Decision is Made

By Laura Asherman

Police and military hold their line in front of the court house.

Police and military hold their line in front of the court house.

Following a tense but generally peaceful week of waiting, Uhuru Kenyatta was announced winner of the 2013 Kenyan Presidential elections on March 9, 2013. With 50.7 percent of the popular vote, Uhuru had made it just past the margin requiring a run off election. Almost immediately after they were announced, rumors of corruption on the part of the IEBC buzzed through the streets. Despite promises for a transparent election, the counting method was changed halfway through the process, once again leaving citizens wondering if a non-corrupt government can exist in Kenya’s future.

Unsatisfied with the election results, opposition leader Raila Odinga and two other organizations led petitions to the Supreme Court in hopes of securing a runoff election to be held in June.

When we arrived at 11 am on the day that the Supreme Court promised their verdict there were already about 300 of Raila’s supporters gathering outside of the courthouse in downtown Nairobi. There was a palpable air of tension as an army of surly police officers armed with semi automatic rifles, batons, and German shepherds created an impenetrable wall around the courthouse, matching if not outnumbering the demonstrators.

Crowd waiting for Supreme Court verdict

Crowd waiting for Supreme Court verdict

By mid-afternoon the crowd, predominantly made of Luos, had nearly tripled in size and in energy. Adrenaline surged through my veins as Mike and I crept through dense crowd of protestors to the frontline of the action. One shirtless man heaved a 30 lb mass of cement over his head sending it crashing to the ground into dozens of fist-sized pieces. A mob mentality permeated through the demonstrators at an alarming rate, and soon people were yelling, “I am ready to die today!” and one older lady saying “Let the blood of Kenyans’ cleanse these streets!” Quickly, my initial feelings that this would be a peaceful election dissipated.

Protesters asking for justice in the courts.

Protesters asking for justice in the courts.

At around 4 pm, only an hour before the rumored time of the court’s announcement, the rain started. Within moments, droplets the size of marbles were drenching the protestors. While the majority of the crowd ran for cover under storefront awnings, a few dozen wily protestors remained dancing and chanting in the streets. Then suddenly, a mass of demonstrators stampeded off the main drag and onto a side street, with frantic policemen close behind them. Shards of glass went flying as protestors smashed windows. I witnessed one struggle on the street, an angry officer standing over him and beating him with a baton.

About 100 meters from where Mike and I stood filming, there were a series of loud explosions. A billowing cloud of teargas sent us running in the opposite direction. But when we returned to the Court House, the crowd rioters had scattered and the officers were piling into their trucks and leaving. The results were in. The petition had been thrown out and on April 9, 2013 Uhuru Kenyatta would be sword in as president of Kenya.

We’re still not sure why the protest dissolved so rapidly following a day of mounting emotions, but we are truly glad to say that this election was for the most part peaceful. However with a new President and VP charged with crimes against humanity we find ourselves left with the question, can there be peace without justice?

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Scenes from a Derailed Train in Kibera

by Michael Joe Morgan

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“Are you guys awake?” Ashley said. We weren’t. “The train derailed in Kibera. Jojo is coming to take us there.”

I climbed down from my top bunk and slid out the door of our bedroom into the common area of our tiny house. Groggy in the shorts and t-shirt I slept in, I filled a glass of water and the doorbell rang. “That must be Jojo,” I said. The three of us put our shoes on and made our way outside to find a stranger who tells us Jojo sent him. We follow.

Jojo is at Kamkunji Grounds, a common area a short walk from our compound in Olympic. We find him there and he leads us back up along the ridge that overlooks the train tracks towards the area known as Soweto. I find myself wishing I had taken the time to put my boots on rather than my loafers when he leads me down a steep path to get down to the tracks. The “ground” is soft and wet. More garbage than earth, the remnants of plastic bags that survived the trash fires weave in and out of thick wet mud. I try to make the leap with one step in the muck, which does not support my weight at all. My other foot reaches the rail and I pull my shoe out of the mud to find it is covered in an unknown bright-yellow substance. Mustard yellow. Heinz yellow. I try to ignore it and make my way down the tracks.

The train has lodged itself against the walls of the ravine carved for the train tracks, upon which commuter trains like these bring passengers into Nairobi from the slums and ghettoes, as it is the most inexpensive way to get into town. It also carries freight trains with goods from the coast in Mombasa across Kenya and into Uganda. The engine has continued into town, so we find the passenger cars abandoned, looking like a lifeless anaconda, decapitated. I can see from a distance that the cars beyond the front have contorted, turned, and leaned up against the ravine wall.

Jojo is impatient as I get a photograph from the approach. He has already been to the train with his camcorder this morning but is clearly excited for me to see the train up close.

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I take a few photos of the outside before climbing into the most drastically leaning passenger car. The effect of being in a train car at such an extreme slant is very unsettling, giving the perception of extreme drunkenness. Plants and debris from the ravine wall come through open doors and windows, giving the impression that the train has been positioned here for weeks rather than minutes. A few children have taken to scurrying up and down the aisles of the cars, laughing and screaming all the way. I gather they have come from a school next to the derailment site. It seems that this event has delayed class for the day.

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There is already a lot of speculation about the cause and repercussions of this particular derailment. Jojo tells me that the people of Kibera will claim that it is political. Ashley jokes that CNN was responsible, citing their false claims of Kibera citizens damaging the train tracks on election day. Jojo then hears that the train braking hard for a lady crossing the tracks with her two children caused the rail itself to fracture. The displaced and broken rail seems to back up this story.

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Time will tell how the people of Kibera react to this seemingly innocuous event. There has already been talk about the camaraderie between Uganda’s President Museveni and Kenya’s new president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, whose opponent Raila Odinga is the favorite among this community. Some men at Kamkunji Grounds told us yesterday of Raila’s ongoing petition to the Supreme Court, saying, “No peace with no justice,” and “Raila is my president. If he is not sworn in, I will fight”. Kenyatta is currently scheduled to be sworn in on March 26th.

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Election Week

Yes that is correct, this election process has taken an entire week.

Monday -

From about 4am to 530am we had the charming lullaby of vuvuzelas and whistles as people in Kibera excitedly began to line up at the polling station near our house.  Security must have quieted the crowd because I feel as if I had just fallen into sleep when we were woken up at 6am by a call from one of our friends that there was already a disturbance at the polling station by his house.  Apparently the gate was not unlocked when voting was suppose to begin so people, eager to vote, tore down the wall to the school. It was with this energy that we sprung from bed ready to hit the polling stations and see what was going on in Kibera.  It was Election Day.

We took Mandela, from Zee Klowns, with us to the polling queues.  He sang songs of peace and love as well as brought smiles to many waiting for their turn to make history.

Mandela singing on the tracks in Kibera. Polling station in background.

Mandela singing on the tracks in Kibera. Polling station in background.

We then moved with Mandela to the Eastside, where the Zee Klowns live in order to see how the polling was going in another neighborhood and see the polling station that had the problem in the morning.  The rest of the day was quiet.  Many waited hours to vote, one of the Zee Klowns waited 13 hours but was still excited to cast his vote.

Tuesday through Friday -

The counts came in very slowly and these days were spent waiting.  We moved back to Kibera on Wednesday and did a lot of walking around talking to people and feeling the calm but tense environment as people waited to see who their new president would be.  As time went on we heard more and more critiques of the IEBC, the vote counters, but peace remained and people waited.

Saturday -

At about 430am, we received a call from our contact in Kibera that the president had been called.  Uhuru Kenyatta would be Kenya’s fourth president.  It was not officially announced but everyone knew.  Still in Kibera we heard the sad eerie sounds of people realizing defeat, but overall the streets were calm.  The day was spent walking around Kamukunji grounds.  There is an opinion that foreign journalists wanted bloodshed and were misreporting Kenya so they were not welcome in Kibera, because of this we traveled without cameras.  At one point we saw stones being thrown at some journalist that were in the area.  Waiting for the official announcement tensions grew higher and there were small bursts of energy but never really violence.  However, at around 330pm we were called and told it was time for us to go.  The crowd grew louder outside of our compound and we were given five minutes to pack our essentials and then hurried into a car, headed out of Kibera, passing army trucks heading in.

An hour later when we were told that we could return home, it all seemed a little dramatic. The calm that was restored quickly could have just as easily gone the other way but the people of Kibera want peace and stood their ground.  Kibera is now quiet and calm and people are returning to their normal lives and hoping for the best.  They are waiting to see what the court hearings bring both in the Kenyan courts and the ICC.

Now a week after the elections we begin to regroup and set the course for the rest of our film.  Developing our concepts and spending time with our artists.  The next month shall be exciting.

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One Week Until Elections

Graffiti by BankSlave in Kibera

Interview with Mandela
Graffiti by BankSlave
in Kibera

 

This coming week we will be:
• Interviewing people in neighborhoods around Nairobi like Kibera and Eastlands,
• Having a discussion with youth that run a car wash in Kenyatta Market,
• Watching the presidential debates with Mandela,
• Attending a Peace event organized by Zee Klowns and some partner organizations,
• Preparing for the upcoming election and whatever will happen

We will be moving from our home in Kibera to stay with the guys from Zee Klowns in the Eastlands. While we hope that the elections will be peaceful and it will be a needless move, it is more important to stay safe and to see how the guys work with their community to promote peace.

On Election Day, we will spend the morning in our neighborhood, following some of the Zee Klowns as they perform music and talk to voters about a peaceful election. We will then move to the Eastlands to wait out the results and see how this country responds. It is hard to predict how it will turn out. Daily we talk to people that both say it will be peaceful and people that say it will be worse than the Post Election Violence of 2007/2008.

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A Busy Week

The elections quickly approach and everyone waits with baited breath to see what will happen.  Will there be tribal based post election violence similar to what tore apart Kenya in 2007/2008? Will there be a run off between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga? Is the country ready for a fair election and the devolution of the government? These are some of the questions on Kenyans’ minds as we approach March 4th.

Foresee Films has been working tirelessly to capture the opinions and atmosphere as the days dwindle to this historical election.  Kenya will be choosing its fourth president as well as voting for governors of the newly created 47 counties. It is amazing to be here and experience such a moment.  Everyone is tuned in to what is going on with the elections, who the candidates are, what they stand for and what will happen on March 4th and beyond.

Mike and I have spent more time with the artists that we have been following, the Zee Klowns. They have shared the world they live in with us and explained why they do the things they do.  It is a group of artists that focus their careers and lives on bettering the world around them through music, drama, clowning, painting and any other form of expression.  We also went to a lecture by Boniface Mwangi, about how to cover the elections.

Last weekend Laura traveled to Mombasa to film a traveling photo exhibition called Picha Mtaani. The exhibit comprised of images of the post election violence in 2007, by photographer Boniface Mwangi, which have been showcased throughout Kenya in hopes of raising awareness and promoting peace in the upcoming elections. In Mombasa, Laura interviewed several victims of the violence and political experts.

At VOCALS in Nairobi with many talented local musicians.

At VOCALS in Nairobi with many talented local musicians.

 

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Filming Has Begun

Painted by Murals for Peace

It has been a hectic last month and we are so excited for how the film is developing.  In my pre production efforts I met people that completely changed the direction of our film.  While meeting with artists and organizations in Kenya it became clear that this is where our story would be told. The upcoming elections are historical for Kenya and with the legacy of violence from the 2007 elections, the world is watching.  After collecting Mike and Laura from Uganda, we made a speedy return to Kenya to begin filming.

Back in Kenya, we are living in Kibera, a slum in the heart of Nairobi, at a house that is also a meeting place for organizations, collaborate and network. We have been running at full steam to shoot as much as we can before the March 4th elections.  We are following the elections through the context of the peace movement and the artists involved.  This is a historical event for Kenya, as this is only the fourth president that Kenya will have and the election is foreshadowed by intense post election violence in 2007, in which around 1000 people were killed and thousands more were displaced.  Most of the violence occurred along tribal lines between the more than 47 different ethnic groups of Kenya.

Since 2007, many Kenyans have dedicated themselves to the push for peace and the end to tribal hatred.  This is made harder because the two leading presidential candidates have strong ethnic ties, one of whom faces indictment from the International Criminal Court regarding Crimes Against Humanity for violence he allegedly organized after the last election. There is also a new constitution that devolves the government allowing for more control to be held in the newly formed counties.  In our new surrounding, we have found the story of a group of musicians and artists who focus on teaching tolerance and peace. We will be following three of these artists over the next couple of months as the elections grow near.

The filming process has been very exciting. In the past few weeks we have gone to peace and anti poaching rallies. We have wandered the streets of Kibera and filmed a “peace train” covered with graffiti, watched the presidential debates in a local pub, and interviewed locals and artists.  The next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind as we try to understand the complexity of the election and show how the peace movement is trying to avoid violence in March.

-Ashley, Producer

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This Is Art

“You have been here for a moment looking at the portraits, asking questions, trying to understand. During that time, you haven’t thought about what you will eat tomorrow. This is art.”
 
Two onlookers to the work of JR in Monrovia. One asking for an explanation of why he was doing it.
 
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