By Diana Mukunu
Creatives Academy is the first class I have been to that provides avenues for networking with the moguls in my industry – that of actors, writers, bloggers, poets and media. By the end of an approximate period of twelve weeks, a student rubs shoulders with relevant bigwigs and broadens career prospects.
Oyunga Pala himself said to me in one of the classes last year that we, the students, are privileged to have such a rare opportunity to mingle with the greats. And I concur. I was then barely a second year university student and I already had in my wallet contacts from the likes of Terryanne Chebet, Jackson Biko, Chris Lyimo and Muthoni Garland – all household names in my fields of interest.
In a world where sciences and business courses are enshrined at the price of the arts, individuals like me, who are more inclined towards the latter, wilt in the shadows of deprivation and prejudice. Creatives Academy offered validation. It was a haven for cohorts, for building associations with kin – aliens cut from the same cloth. It was an instrument for resounding our existence in a country that looks down on our kind, and was a means to gain mentorship, guidance, to celebrate ourselves and our crafts, while spurring each other towards world-changing deeds.
I met lawyers, psychologists, film makers, event organizers and students from other institutions who wore a different frock in the weekends and burnt the midnight oil as authors. We mingled with public relations virtuosos, publishers, teachers, lecturers, journalists, radio presenters and other VIPs from an array of professions. We came together in class and in the hallways of the institution affirming each other with mere glances, and later by conversation over a cup of tea.
Many of us were sponges, keen to gain two cents worth of wisdom on the craft that had taken connoisseurs decades to harness. Autographs and photographs were a great plus to an enlightening experience that held the promise of catapulting apprentices to great heights in the marketplace, as well as of developing greater prospects for those already counted. I for one felt like a nameless ant allowed to dine with the mighty in a star-lit feast.
I learnt how to present myself, how to edit my own works, how to source for inspiration and even where to cut corners in production. I formed networks which I would not have otherwise been able to form, and got a sneak-peek behind the scenes of the industry before I was even qualified for internship. I replaced naivety with know-how which I am keen to apply, especially now that I am soon to graduate.
Such a hub would not have stayed quiet for too long. Sadly, the program took a hiatus in 2016. I had vowed to be a long term member of the academy so imagine my heartbreak. There may have since been other opportunities for me to delve into in the world of literature, but none that coincided so well with my academic demands.
In a bid to create a substitute oasis, a few of my colleagues and I, with the guidance of Dr. Larry Ndivo – a renowned literary critic – have now come together to form a book club in the main campus we coyly refer to as ‘Lit Junkie’. We intend to make it a hub where the habit of reading and of literary criticism can be fostered, where authors would shade light on their works, and also where we can learn to improve on the art of writing by having tutorial sessions. We have begun with modest numbers but have great hopes in the club’s potential. Many of us also continue to write in personal blogs and one of us is set to publish a book this year!
I am also currently volunteering as a writer in Daystar Christian Fellowship Communication – a committee which aids in publicizing chapel events and shares topics of the faith. I am therefore grateful that Creatives Academy was able to set the pace.
Diana Mukunu is a third-year English major at Daystar University.