Taking on the establishment with laughter

July 3, 2013

With a projected monthly audience of 8 million people, The XYZ Show is one of Kenya’s most popular TV programmes. Such strength in numbers displays the impact of the new partnership between Hivos/Kenya Media Programme (KMP) and Buni Media, the producers of the show.

The show marries humour and satire and has emerged as a creative arts platform that helps Kenyans interrogate their leaders and their actions. Based on the 1980s cult British programme ‘Spitting Image’, the programme uses puppets and humour to lampoon Kenyan politicians, while tackling controversial issues such as corruption and political privilege.

The writers of the show also use the broadcast as a forum to educate Kenyans on holding their leaders accountable and on good governance.

“Four years later and seven seasons running, The XYZ show continues to be as relevant today as the first time it was aired. The show continues to address the very issues (and emerging ones) confronting us today as well as yesterday. Speaking truth to power, good governance, corruption, unemployment and so forth. The show has also continued to promote and push the boundaries of freedom of expression, “says Godfrey (Gado) Mwapembwa.  Gado is one of the creators of the show and a co-founder of Buni Media.

Buni Media’s vision is to harnesses Africa’s wealth of skills and creativity to produce innovative, thought-provoking, inspiring and visually arresting content.  It was founded in 2009 as the production vehicle for The XYZ Show, its first television project.  It has since grown into a multimedia organisation.

In the last four years, Buni Media’s team of over 60 scriptwriters, researchers, soundmen, puppeteers and others has produced six seasons of the XYZ Show, with each episode estimated to reach 4.2 million viewers weekly. A similar format of the programme is run on radio.

This new partnership will see KMP fund part of season seven and all of season eight.

 “KMP endeavours to support innovative formats, and the show’s track record signifies ability to address a wide range of issues that then can generate public debate. It is difficult for this show to attract advertising, as most companies do not want to burn their fingers on the political content,” says Wanjiru Kago, KMP Programme Officer.

The Kenya Media Programme (KMP) aims at improving the quality of journalism in Kenya. It wants to contribute to a responsive, representative and accountable government, and therefore to a more stable Kenya with improved quality of life for its men and women.