- He drew inspiration from the weekly comic book magazines he used to read.
- His passion for acting began in standard six.
- Producing content that resonates with audiences beyond Kenya is his ambition.
Amid the bustling streets and crowded alleys of Kawangware, a quiet revolution is taking place.
While most people associate the ghetto with poverty, crime and despair, Ezekiel Kang’aa is using his skills in graphics and video editing to uplift his community.
“We may live in a ghetto, but that does not define who we are,” says Kang’aa.
He narrates to Scholar Media Africa how his journey with a knack for film, photography, and graphic design began.
“While in primary school, I used to admire the weekly comic book magazines that used to be attached to newspapers such as Super Strikas and Shujaaz.
The graphical composition of those magazines made me develop a keen interest in painting and drawing,” Kang’aa says.
His passion for acting began in standard six, following admiration from his peers.
“I used to admire seeing my friends playing distinct roles in various plays. This made me have an ardent desire for acting, and I started participating in acting and drama festivals,” he narrates.
After joining high school, Kang’aa continued to pursue his passion for acting, although he participated only minimally.
However, during this time, he developed an interest in comedy.
“While in form four, my friend Martin re-ignited my passion for acting, which I had lost interest in.
Martin’s stand-up comedy stunts and versatile acting skills impressed me, and I became interested in comedy as a result, “he recalls.
Furthering the dream
To nurture their talents and collaborate with like-minded people, the duo formed a comedy group within the school called Reward Spreaders.
After finishing secondary school, Kang’aa landed an acting role in a local TV show, which proved to be a crucial step in his career.
“Two years after form four, I reconnected with my former classmate, Joster Kibe, who was already working as an actor on Junior, a popular show on KTN Home.
Kibe introduced me to the show’s management, and I was given a small role as a gambler,” he explains.
After appearing in Junior, he was soon offered numerous acting opportunities.
“Various directors from different shows were impressed by my performance, and I was offered roles in several local productions.
One of the biggest shows I worked on after leaving Junior was Sumu La Penzi, which aired on Maisha Magic,” Kang’aa narrates.
While working on this, Kang’aa discovered a newfound interest in film production and developed a talent for graphic design.
“Seeing myself featured on the show’s posters was always a delight. I was impressed by the quality and appeal of the designs.
I decided to enroll in a graphics design course at Kiwan Computer College in Kawangware to learn more. I pursued the course for two years,” he narrates.
Following some advice from a friend, Kang’aa decided to pursue higher education.
Pursuing higher education
“Jamal Nassor, a friend of mine who played the role of Junior’s father on the TV show, urged me to go to university if I wanted to advance my career.
I took his advice to heart and started researching universities that offered degrees in film and graphic design. After careful consideration, I chose to attend Multimedia University,” he explains.
In his sophomore year at the university, he began exploring the world of film directing and videography. As he gained more experience in the industry, he decided to launch his own production company.
“In 2018, I founded Spinjets Production, a small production firm where I write scripts, produce films, and edit videos for the films I created,” Kang’aa explained.
Kang’aa’s films are educative and inspired by happenings within his surroundings.
“My films are not meant to offend or provoke anyone, but to show the beauty and diversity of my culture and environment. I draw inspiration from the stories and experiences of the people around me,” he describes.
As part of giving back to his society, Kang’aa started a small initiative to impart acting, photography, video editing, and graphic design skills to fellow youths.
“A lot of people have a burning desire to do things they really like but on the flip side, majority of them do not meet their expectations due to financial incapabilities. I therefore initiated a two-month training programme to equip my peers with skills aligned to my profession,” he elucidates.
Since its inception, the initiative has brought a salutary effect to his community.
“I am overjoyed that my initiative has created a huge platform for my peers to showcase their talents and has also enabled some of them to get employment opportunities at the end of the training program.
I am also proud that I have mentored many people and made a difference in their lives,” Kang’aa says.
Besides experiencing tremendous career growth, he has faced his fair share of challenges.
“Sometimes, some of my clients fail to pay after rendering services to them. This is a problem that most production firms experience.
This matter has sometimes put me in a tough situation, especially when paying members of my team because their payment depends on the client’s money.
Other clients delay payment, thus hindering us from undertaking critical projects,” he narrates.
Purchasing of various production equipment has also been a predicament for Kang’aa.
“As Spinjets Production, we strive to always produce quality work for our clients, but that quality comes with a cost. Most production equipment is very costly.
The high cost of equipment has made us turn down various projects because of the lack of that equipment.
The exorbitant price of equipment has also forced us to hire production equipment on numerous occasions, which the hiring cost is still expensive,” he elaborates.
Besides film production and graphic design, Kang’aa has always had a passion for radio.
He has been drawn to the world of radio since he was young, and now that the internet has presented numerous opportunities online, he plans to start an online radio.
“The future of radio broadcasting lies in online radio. The majority of legacy media outlets are moving towards the digital platform.
Online radio would enable me to interact with a wider reach of my target audience, the majority of whom are youth.
I would like to provide unique entertainment to my audience. I am confident that I will bring this vision and passion to life,” Kang’aa explains.
Producing content that resonates with audiences beyond Kenya is one ambition harbored by Kang’aa as he endeavors to establish Spinjets Production as an international brand.
“I have spent most of my career producing local content. However, I would love to partner with international film brands to produce films that capture the essence of Kenyan culture and other regions around the globe,” he explains.
By partnering with international brands, Kang’aa hopes to expand his reach and showcase the richness of Kenyan culture to the world.
Bringing social change
Kang’aa’s passion for using film as a tool for social change is evident not only in his work with Spinjets Production, but also in his call for the government to prioritize initiatives that empower and uplift youth living in marginalized areas.
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He believes that by providing them with opportunities and skills, they can overcome the social problems that plague their communities and contribute positively to society.