Early in 2013 VSDB visited Nairobi as part of a wider research trip to the East African region, to assess the potential for future international cultural engagement between Kenya and Europe. Key meetings included The Kenya Technology Board, The Kenya Cultural Centre and the team from the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture.
Kenya has marked 50 years of Independence from the UK and it is a springboard for signalling afresh the importance of a self-determined identity. Kenya clearly has challenges, but also assets. Kenya has high-potential human resources and the potential for this asset to be developed for the knowledge economy and become an African exemplar has already been the subject of high-level discussion. The timing in relation to the technological revolution and therefore the potential for synergy with technology is patently clear. The country also has strength in Tourism, Natural Beauty and the Environment.
For the first time, since the last elections in 2012, ‘Culture’ is written into the new Kenya Constitution. However, embedded working practices in the civil service and lack of confidence in the staff to bring forward suggestions and actions were inhibiting improvement.
Until this year, the only internationally available cultural policy document for Kenya was written in 1975, and itself refers to material gathered in 1972. Kenya now needs to make new policy live with a contemporary conversation about art and culture. VSDB is working to develop leadership skills and structures to affect change.