Kenya: performing arts pass anti-corruption message

This year, Anti-Corruption day (9th December) fell on a Sunday. Sunday is an incredibly awkward day for any kind of commemoration in Kenya because many Kenyans consider Sunday a day of worship and rest.

With this in mind Transparency International Kenya adjusted the commemoration to five day anti-corruption caravans in three regions of the country – Nairobi, Coast and North-rift starting Monday, 10th December.

Sample the grand entry: The caravan truck, emblazoned with Transparency International Kenya banners, with blaring music and announcements over the public address system drives into small towns and shopping centers along the main roads. Members of the theatre group perform a dance. On hearing the ruckus, members of the public gather round, curious to find out what the noise was all about.

Wasanii Sanaa Theatre Group dancers in action.

A theatre group performs a skit bearing key anti-corruption messages.  The MC re-enforces the key messages. The MC engages members of the public who have gathered in a Q & A session about the key messages that have been delivered. The lucky few who get to answer the questions get to win branded merchandise like T-shirts and DVD documentaries bearing key anti-corruption messages.

In commemorating this year’s International anti-corruption day, Transparency International Kenya contracted Wasanii Sanaa (Swahili for Artistes’ Art) Theatre Group, a group of 25 youth from Kibera – one of the largest informal settlements in Africa – to disseminate anti corruption messages to residents of NairobiCounty.

In a country where corruption is considered too technical an issue for discussion, constructing key messages in a skit /drama is proving very effective.

Read more – Street performers and flash mobs promote the fight against corruption in Morocco, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Use of skits includes more citizens in the national conversation about corruption especially now that the country is headed towards the general elections which have been a catalyst for corruption in this country.

Members of the public watching a skit by Wasanii Sanaa Theatre Group at a caravan stop during the anti-corruption week commemoration.


The group provided the perfect platform to pass anti-corruption messages. Members of the group have seen and experienced the full effects of corruption and as  a result of corruption and poor governance over the years, basic services like water, sanitation, healthcare, education and security are virtually nonexistent in Kibera.

It is said that the best artiste is (s)he who can communicate his/her experiences best.  Members of Wasanii Sanaa Theatre Group know how to communicate their experiences. Members of the group are multitalented. They write and perform short thematic skits, they are excellent dancers and some members are masters of the art of public speaking.

An artiste engaging members of the public in a Q & A session.

To call corruption a big problem in Kenya is an understatement. Kenya has consistently scored poorly in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (it ranks 139th this year), ‘petty’ corruption in Kenya is disturbingly common place and hardly does a year go by before a case of grand corruption is reported.  This, despite concerted efforts by both state and non state actors in carrying out advocacy campaigns aimed at eliminating the vice.

The Nairobi anti-corruption caravan toured various parts of the capital and the surrounding towns on the back of a truck and this is where the theatre group came in handy.

At the end of the one week caravan, there is no doubt that there are now more Kenyans made aware of corruption and its effects on their lives this year.

Carousel image: Copyright, Transparency International Kenya

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