by Brendan Colgan
A six-month Sh76 million (~523,000 €) social marketing campaign for Kenya was unveiled earlier this week as part of the ongoing state-sponsored initiative Brand Kenya. The campaign has been dubbed Nitakuwepo, a Swahili word meaning “I will be there”. The aim of campaign is to enhance Kenya’s national pride and to urge citizens to “be there” for Kenya because their own contributions are very important for the overall health, success, and cohesion of the nation. The campaign will appear in magazine ads, newspapers, online media, along with several tv spots beginning this week.
Nation branding is not a new idea in Kenya. While some Kenyans are generally optimistic about the current initiative given its ‘feel-good’/call-to-action message, others worry that history may repeat itself. In 2007, another campaign had been in the works but ultimately failed to take-off due to a lack of funding and governmental support. Furthermore, critics argue that campaign funding may be better spent elsewhere given that inflation in Kenya is at 17.32 percent and that the Shilling is struggling to stabilize against international currencies. Nonetheless, the Kenyan government decided to reexamine the need for a campaign after Kenya made world headlines last year when post-electoral violence left more than 1,000 Kenyans dead.