Last Sunday, curtains came down on the inaugural Kenya
International Sports Film Festival (KISFF) at the Aspire Centre,
Westlands, where, in a red carpet black-tie event, winners in 14
different categories were awarded trophies.
In this festival,
that’s dubbed, “a 1st for Kenya and a First for
Africa”, Ethiopia and Japan claimed first blood when they took
home three trophies each. Ethiopia’s feature film, I Won’t Bear
No More won Best Cinematography, Best Editor and Best African
Last Hold, from
Japan, won Best Director and Best Feature Film. Wrestler, also
from the same country, scooped Best Animation.
Acokoro and Imara
spared Kenya the blushes. The former, by Ida Waringa, won
Chairman’s Award, Best Kenyan Story. The latter won Best Short
Serbia, won two awards; Best Production and Best Screenplay,
Best Short Film went
to, Are You Volleyball, from Iran; Best Sound, Feature Film to,
Fan of Amoory, the UAE; Best Documentary was won by, Boston,
from the USA; while Baokchambab, from Cambodia scooped the
Jury’s Special Award.
Coastweek -- Japan’s
ambassador to Kenya, HE Toshitsogu Uesawa, left, receiving one
of Japan’s three KISFF awards on behalf of his winning citizen
from KISFF festival director, Florence Nduta.
Prior to the gala
event – at the Louis Leakey Auditorium – more than 20 sports
films and documentaries were screened, which had been submitted
from different parts of the world. Plus, spread out in the four
days of the festival were 10 panel discussions, which tackled
different sports-related issues.
Speaking during the
opening of the official opening festival on 22nd
November, the CAS of Sports, Culture and Heritage, Hon. Hassan
Noor Hassan, commended the organisers of the festival.
Also in attendance
during the opening was the CEO of Kenya Film Classification
Board (KFCB) Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, dignitaries, members of the
diplomatic corps, retired and active sportspersons, film
practitioners and enthusiasts and KISFF’s secretariat and
KISFF’s brand ambassadors; legendary track athletes, Rose Tata
Muya and Douglas Wakiihuri.
Apart from screening
of films and documentaries, panel discussions also formed a
sizable portion of the festival.
Journalism forms a
fundamental part of sports, because – as the mirror and
(sometimes) moral compass of society - the fourth estate
informs, educates and entertains. The first KISFF panel was on
Sports Journalism in Kenya. Moderated by Kariuki Thige, the
panellists were veteran journalists; Sammy Lui, Larry Ngala and
called on sports journalists to have more passion and drive, and
decried the “brown envelope” syndrome; which means that stories
are published or killed when cash exchange hands.
“There were about
848 golfers when I started writing about golf, but now we have
more than 10,000. The reason I’ve been covering golf all these
years is because of the passion that I have for the sport,”
Ngala told the audience. Ngala has been Kenya’s go-to golf
journalist for the past four decades.
Thige lamented that,
in the audience, there were not as many sports journalists and
journalism students, who missed the golden opportunity to glean
oodles of knowledge from the veteran panellists.
On the second day of
the festival, there was a clear amping up of issues as this
panel tackled the current medical science scourge that is
plaguing Kenya sports,: Drugs and Doping in Sports. This panel
was moderated by Dr. Pramod Shah. The panellists were Sharad Rao,
Dr. Muthoni Ntonjira, Douglas Wakiihuri, Wilfred Bungei and
Barnabas Korir from Athletics Kenya.
Sharad is a familiar
face in the corridors of justice. In 2012, he was appointed by
President Mwai Kibaki as chair of the Judges and Magistrates
Vetting Board. And in 2016, the International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) Ethics Board appointed the intrepid
lawyer to investigate alleged breaches of the IAAF Code of
Ethics, in relation to potential subversion of anti-doping
control process in Kenya.
“Two things are
important, and one is we need to emphasise to the athletes that
gone are the days when you got away with doping,” Sharad said.
“The second thing is that we should emphasise the side effects,
such as kidney failure.”
The panel narrated
how there are doping cartels operating in Iten, Kapsabet and
other bedrocks of Kenyan athletics. These cartels make easy
money from ignorant athletes; most who want to win races and hit
paydirt by any means necessary.
The panel and
audience concurred that there needs to be more education and
sensitisation of athletes, and that doping tests should be done
on other sportspersons in other disciplines, and not just
limited to track athletes who are generally perceived as the
The second panel on
day two of the festival was on Parasports and Special Olympics.
It was moderated by Douglas Sidialo, and the panellists were PS
in the Ministry of Sports, Josephta Mukobe, Susan Masila, Henry
Wanyoike and Mathews Mugenya.
Susan is the CEO of
Special Olympics Kenya, Henry is a visually-impaired marathoner
and Mathews is a former paralympian and founder of an
organisation that identifies and nurtures parasports talent at
Mathews told the
audience that the first Paralympic that Kenya participated in
was in Heidelberg, Germany in 1972.
“In total, in
Paralympics alone,” Mathews said, “Kenya has won 42 medals since
that debut more than fourty years ago; 16 gold, 15 silver and 11
bronze. Internationally, Kenya ranks among the top 10
On her part, Susan
said that Special Olympics Kenya started participating in the
world games in 1983, and has never missed any world game since.
In the recent Summer Games in LA, California, the team bagged 11
individual gold medals, as well as team silver and bronze
medals. In total, they hauled 40 medals just from one game.
On day three of the
festival, during the panel on Kenya Sports Administration and
Financial Management , eminent panellist Dr. Abbas Gullet – who
is the secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross Society, and has
been instrumental in turning around its fortunes - challenged
sports federations and persons who want to get into sports
management to have moral and financial probity.
association that is interested to benchmark, let them know that
my doors are open. We need to have institutions that are
well-managed and well-governed, and all the other things will
fall into place,” Dr. Gullet said.
Lady Justice Joyce
Aluoch, who was in the audience, said that she supported threw
the gauntlet at the door of sports bodies, telling them that
they must raise the bar on matters of integrity.
Next in line was the
panel on Sports Dispute Resolution and Sports Tribunal.
Moderated by Isaya Evans, the panellists were lawyers John Ohaga,
Mercy Okiro, Sharad Rao and Kihara Muruthi.
“One of the things I
found when I joined the tribunal was that the jurisdiction was
relatively limited,” Ohaga noted. “But as we have gone on, we
have found that more sports people are bringing their disputes
before the tribunal, notwithstanding the narrow powers the act
“A court is not
supposed to interfere in the decision of the sports tribunal,”
Mercy pointed out. “But when a court opens up its doors to
litigation, it becomes a Pandora’s Box such that any other
decisions that are made by the tribunal can be appealed or
someone can get an injunction.”
The last panel of
the festival was on the future role of sports in Kenya and
beyond. It was moderated by media personality, Julie Gichuru.
The panellists were Dr. Auma Obama, Victor Muniafu, Maxwell
Muniafu, Isaac Wanjohi and Irfan Karim, who is a scion of the
Karim sporting dynasty.
“I work with young
people, between the ages of 4-25 years,” Dr. Auma said. “The
first pillar of our work is personality development and
character-building, and our role is to teach young people to be
responsible and be part of the decision-making process. The
facilities of Sauti Kuu in Alego, Siaya County belong to the
David Waters, who is
involved in different facets of Kenyan cricket, and who had
moderated in the prior panel on Cricket in Kenya, was in the
audience and gave his take on the ongoing discussion.
Most schools have
zero sporting facilities. The programme David runs provides
cricket sporting facilities and - besides acting as Cricket
Ambassadors - they aim to build pupils’ character, passion,
curiosity, determination, social intelligence and self-control.
“When we started
four years ago, schools and parents were reluctant; they were of
the opinion that if we introduced sports into their curriculum,
it would adversely affect their kids’ academic studies,” David
“Four years down the
line, several primary schools in the slum areas that we work in
have achieved their highest ever Kenya Certificate of Primary
Education results. A headteacher said that our programme was the
main reason for the improvement.”
The panellists and
audience pointed out that schools’ curriculum should have sports
as part of it, and that there should be more spaces for games
and sports in estates.
Julie, who hosts
high profile sessions – attended by heads of state, captains of
industry and movers and shakers of society - promised to take
this issue a notch higher; to a high level panel discussion on
The other panels
were on Life and Post-sports life, the previously mentioned
Cricket in Kenya, Women and their contribution in Sports and
Society, and also a panel on The Role of Film in Sports.
discussions were streamed live online, courtesy of Telkom Kenya
and Talanta Institute. The organisers of KISFF hope these
discussions will subsequently lead to a working document, which
may be used by all stakeholders in the sports sector.