Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shujaaz.FM

You're thinking, "Sean, did a cat jump on your keyboard or something? What's up with the post title?"

No, that was deliberate. Shujaaz.FM is actually the title of a Kenyan comic book that was started in February 2010. It's about a Kenyan boy called Boyie who finds himself unemployed and unable to continue his formal education. So he hacks together a pirate radio station and uses it to broadcast a message to his peers, trying to help them improve their lives, both individually and collectively. Here's the video summary that introduced me to the concept...

The comic is available on the official website for free. As of this writing, fifteen chapters. As far as I can tell, though, the comics and the site are entirely written in sheng (a contemporary Kenyan slang that's kind of a mish-mash of Swahili and English) and, since it's very consciously directed towards Kenyan youth, I doubt it will get a formal translation any time soon. Understandable, but a bit disappointing since I would like to read it myself.

In any event, it sounds like a fantastic project from pretty much every angle. Lots of Kenyans are being employed to put the book together, it has a strong positive message for its readers, who are able to read the books for free, plus it's using any number of entry points (Facebook, radio, comics, etc.) to catch people's attention. From the sound of it, catching people's attention pretty effectively at that!

I'm thrilled to see this kind of thing in action, and I wish that I could hear more about cool international comic stories like this. Well, you can consider yourself mildly informed about this one at least!

2 comments:

Bridget said...

Hey - thanks for the great write up. I can send you a few soft copy Shujaaz stories in English? Let me know where to send them! Bridget

Sean Kleefeld said...

I'm happy to provide some coverage; I really think these types of things should get more notice here in the States. I appreciate the offer, too; I'd love to see some of the books in English! If you shoot me an email to sean DOT kleefeld AT fuse DOT net, I can send you my snail mail address.