In Summary
  • The significance of this festival cannot be emphasised. It is sad that it is not sold to the public as a major art and culture event by the organisers.
  • The one reason all involved parties should take the KNDFF so seriously is the emphasis put on creativity and performing arts in the new school syllabus.

The 2019 Kenya National Drama and Film Festivals (KNDFF) will be held at Kibabii University in Bungoma County from April 2 to 13.

The theme of the 2019 festivals, which have been running from the sub-county to the regional level from February, is ‘Promoting moral responsibility among the youth through theatre and film’.

This festival is probably the oldest institutions-based annual arts event in Africa.

It was founded in 1959 and has lasted for so long because it is one of the key activities for schools, colleges and now universities in the annual calendar of the ministry of Education.

This festival brings together millions of learners, teachers, parents, and ordinary Kenyans between the months of January — when rehearsals happen in schools, followed by local competitions – and the month of April, when the national finals for the winning teams from the regional competitions are held.


It showcases creativity in drama on stage, creative cultural dance, modern dance, solo verse, choral verse, narrative, spoken word, stand-up comedy, mime, and different genres of film – a recent addition.

In other words, this is the biggest arts and culture festival in Kenya in a year, not just in terms of the number of teams and performers involved but also because of the duration it takes to conclude.

The significance of this festival cannot be emphasised. It is sad that it is not sold to the public as a major art and culture event by the organisers.

But consider a few factors to do with the KNDFF. First, nearly every public school – and a good number of private schools – see participation at the festivals as a hallmark of its co-curricular achievement.


Schools do not spare any effort to win at the different phases of the festivals in order to appear at the ‘nationals’.

Many schools have invested in good theatre halls. They spend huge amounts of money to buy costumes – a whole book can be written on the variety and creativity involved in making costumes for the ‘Luhya’ dance, for instance.

The props for stage plays and narratives cost a fortune. In fact, some schools spare a whole bus or hire a lorry to transport these props.

Hiring a scriptwriter for the play – a very mercenary practice but still a part of the whole process – can cost as much as Sh500,000.

The KNDFF is one big economy, running into millions of shillings spent and earned.


From the coming Monday, schools will have to budget and seek accommodation for their students, teachers and support staff.

These visitors to Kibabii will spend millions of shillings on food, refreshments and other items.

Food sellers, transporters (especially motorbike riders), hairdressers, tailors, airtime dealers, mechanics, et cetera, will be in full business in Kibabii and its vicinity for almost two weeks.

If a school gets good scripts for the categories that they plan to compete in, has willing students, and a good director/producer, the production process involves an incredible amount of time, money, energy and creativity from the students, teachers, administrators, parents and at times the local community.

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