We're pleased to present an interview with Musa Ihiga, who is the enthusiaistic young man behind The Stated Opinion Show, Kenya's first ever cartoon talk show.
Please introduce yourself, tell us what you do.
Musa Ihiga is a your normal everyday Kenyan citizen; a triple-diploma holder who has chosen to digress from the I.T. industry and get his hands dirty as he delves into the uncharted territory of the “animation jungle” here in Kenya, East-Africa as he forges ahead while endeavouring to develop “Musamedia Productions” which is a small company of three years since its inception on the 14th Day of December 2005. All the works made by Musamedia Productions are “Meditated Creatively”.
What do you mean by “Meditated Creatively”?
It is “Meditated creatively” and it primordially stems from nature of the animations and other creative productions at Musamedia Productions. It goes without saying, especially to those with a creatively inclined mind that unlike a majority of other professions (don’t I just love stabbing at other people’s professions) where you can basically go about your thing completely absent minded until you get jolted back to reality when somebody either nudges at you, accidentally bumps into you or after you disengage that “Auto-pilot” button on the cockpit dashboard (Oops! Did I just give that away?) Animation requires a sober mind that is sharp in addition to, as I mentioned before, bucket loads of creativity which as you may have figured by now doesn’t come by a simple “flick” of the button and therefore the reason and need if I may add for one to meditate.
How did you get into animation?
Whether I got into animation or animation got into me is apparently not very clear to me even till this very day though I must admit that I have an innate hunger for all things that are artistically inspired and animation is one of them, whether it be the in the crude form of a flip-book or a High end CGI animation my attention gets caught quicker than a bolt of lightning with the mass media playing a role in whetting my appetite through the years.
Why do you choose animation as your medium of expression (as opposed to something easier and/or more established, locally, like live action or even painting)? Do you do anything other than this to pay the bills/express
Allow me to correct you and many other people who for some reason yet to be known by myself are under the illusion that there are other easier media of expression.
Yes! I do agree that to a certain level that animation belongs to a certain class of individuals without sounding like a segregationist hence it therefore wouldn’t be fair to allude to there being other easier forms of expressions but to answer your question let me say that I have tried acting and painting (domestic and artistic respectively) at different levels through my educational and personal journey but none has ever quite had an appeal to me like animation. I am currently reviewing alternative methods of expanding my financial base.
What are your favourite animations and animators?
There are a number of animations that I would classify as favourites but off the cuff I will say that Ed, Edd and Eddy really cracks me up and with the story being based on characters living in an estate neighbourhood, a setting that rings true to many estate neighbourhoods in Kenya however there are the old classic animations like Tom and Jerry, Pink Panther, Wallace and Grommit etc.
As for animators, well Walt Disney, Blake Edward, Fred Quimby, Danny Antonucci, Genndy Tartakovsky are just but a few individuals I can remember at the moment whose animations are way up at the top of my list.
Tell us about the Stated Opinion Show. What was your inspiration, the driving force behind its creation?
The Stated Opinion Show is a daring animated talk show hosted by one witty “Oliver Otieno”. “Oliver Otieno” is a pseudo-character that borrows his name from the famous Kenyan celebrity Olivia Otieno. “Oliver Otieno” is a witty character that does not mind putting prominent members in the Kenyan arena like the politicians and activist’s on the hot seat to their great discomfort while the crowd roars with laughter at their attempts to dodge, verbally trip-up or totally decline to answer the questions.
The inspiration for “The Stated Opinion Show” came as a result of watching on the television and reading in the newspapers and noticing how good people in general, be they politicians or celebrities are at denying their proclamations at the drop of a hat which is just but one of the myriad of goof ups they find themselves in.
It is also a kind of wake up call to members of the Kenyan public to be aware of politicians and their off-hand pronouncements.
Impersonations of politicians are becoming quite popular nowadays. Who did your voice acting?
Which local politicians can we expect to see in other eps of The Show?
Well! Well! Do I want to let cat out of the bag yet? To be fair I will say that the idea behind “The Stated Opinion Show” is not to air opinions from politicians only but rather opinions from any period, any person/groups of people and any corner of the world and not just locally so having said that therefore you can expect opinions from people in other notable professions and countries and not just Kenya.
Why do you think that political commentary, humourous or otherwise, is such a popular subject, locally?
One highly respected CEO in Kenya and East-Africa by the name Michael Joseph was once quoted saying, “…Kenyans have peculiar calling habits.” which was in relation to mobile telephony industry but to add on to that I will put in my own contribution and say that for whatever reason Kenyans seem to like talking about politics so yes! Give them what they want and Oh! Don’t even mention the football craze, would you have any suggestion as to why Kenyans as are so engrossed in it?
Will the sporty side of life will always be out of reach for us computer arty types??? Heh...
Tell us about your process and tools. How long did it take to make the show? Did you have assistants?
The process engaged in the making of the “The Stated Opinion Show” is as listed below:-
• Creating a storyline.
• Carrying out an incisive research and gathering information of the subject upon which the storyline is based.
• Writing the scripts.
• Sketching out the storyboard.
• Character drawing.
• Background and colour scheming
• Creating and composing a jingle.
• Recording and voice morphing.
• Animation and Lip-synching
The major tool used was a high end user computer with a vector based animation software and Sound recording/editing software plus bucket loads of creativity.
The whole process from creating the storyline for TEN 3-minute episodes before finally rendering them took ONE year with no assistants.
How has the reaction been to the show so far?
On the local scene those that have previewed the show which ranges from a local Programmes Acquisition Executive to your every day TV buff the reception has been warm.
You showed the Stated Opinion show at KIFF last year, how was the KIFF audience? What’s your view on festivals? Have you investigated any other ways of getting the work out in front of the masses?
Yes! I did exhibit “The Stated Opinion Show” at KIFF and the audience was impressed more than anything else. My conclusion as far as film festivals are concerned is that they are a good venue for exposing ones film and a method of getting instant and real time feedback from the audience.
Yes! I have distributed copies of “The Stated Opinion Show” to a number of Exhibition Stalls locally albeit not yet recorded sales and I have also uploaded one episode of the same onto the world re-known social website you-tube where it has now hit a five-star rating since uploading it in the middle of last year.
Thoughts on the local industry. Any problems? What does it need to improve?
I think that the local industry is slowly warming up to local productions as is evident with the new entries on the some of the local television programme line down but it is only recently that the powers that be have showed concerted efforts to crack down on pirates by coming to the aid of the artists and enforcing anti-piracy laws.
As far as the Kenyan animation industry in particular is concerned what I have noticed is that the local audience is either ignorant of the goings on or are least bothered. This is my conclusion based on the good performance of “The Stated Opinion Show” internationally on the social website but lukewarm performance locally.
We hear you’re also teaching at NIT, tell us about the experience of passing on knowledge to eager young minds.
As for now I have taken a short break from teaching for a period of two months till the end of the year to attend to personal up comings although I hope to return fully next year all things remaining constant.
However my experience at passing on knowledge to eager minds has been like a breath of fresh air seeing that this happens to be my first time. It is also an eye opener to just how talented the Kenyan youth are which has in turn challenged me personally as a local animator.
Any advice for someone who would want to get into the industry?
Persistence! , persistence! , persistence! I can’t insist anymore than that but of course you know that a pinch of creativity goes along way so why not just have bucket loads of it.
Are you planning on making more episodes of TSOS or are you moving on to a new concept? In short, what's next on your plate?
I probably have already alluded to this in your previous question but I will reiterate and say that I have a flexible mind and therefore I am open to try any thing that I may have a gut feeling about. I am currently in the initial stages of putting together a more child-centred animated cartoon series with the goal being to have one running on one of the local television stations in due time so you can think of this as being two-pronged approach. A lot of things have taken place including the teaching job that I have taken up this year and therefore you will understand why I may not be able to give a clean cut answer in relation to when it is projected to debut.
Project a future for the local animation industry.
As the Creative Director of Musamedia Productions I project a future where due to the astronomical rise in the Asian economy and the boom in Information Technology of the Asian continent; which was once the hub of outsourcing of jobs due to its cheap labour Africa and especially more so East-Africa will begin to attract more investors in the creative industry and anybody in the creative field can look forward to getting well paid outsourced jobs, well at least by our standards.
Project a future for yourself.
At Musamedia Productions I envision better days ahead and I am placing all requisite infrastructures in preparation. Musamedia Productions projects to have a child-centered animated cartoon running on one of the local television stations in due time.
And now, here's The Stated Opinion Show! Enjoy!