By Alex Roberts

Editorial note: the following is a work of opinion, but if you catch feelings, maybe you’ve flown too close to the sun.

Ever notice that those who seem to be involved in damn near every artistic endeavor across East Africa; even those initiatives that claim outwardly to be ‘rebellious’, ‘subversive’ or ‘progressive’ rub a lot of shoulders with those they claim to rage against?

No? Is it just me? Am I two whiskeys in and have gotten some kind of bad paranoia? Doubtful. Anyone who really has been keeping a close eye on East Africa’s creative sector in say, the last 15 years, will probably have caught wind of the very same trend; those in the know tend to know everyone in such a position.

The very ‘thought leaders’ who will rage and shout can be found at fancy suarees (complete with an imported vodka sponsor) sipping and talking about ‘the youth movement’ with the very political figures who have made it their life’s work to destroy it.

This isn’t rebellion, and it isn’t real art: it is the worst kind of poser-ism, an Americanized ideal of creative merit, riding the coattails of would-be-valid-expression towards maximizing profit margins.

Indeed; within the entirety of the region, it seems to be the exact same 250 folks who can be found at all of each other’s events. They charge 20$ US entrances, watered-down cocktails at the exchange rate of the Euro and always seem to be holding these exclusive parties for a cause.

The cause, as it has long seemed to most of the creative sector, seems to be themselves.

And business has been-a-booming.

C’mon, you know the problem, it is the same group of friends in their early forties in each major metropolitan hub in the region; profiting from and fucking each other, same as it ever was.

Many of them somehow manage to never have the fees for the very same ‘promising artists’ that they flirt with the idea of bringing into their circle; act as friends to; bang twice and then have headline their handwritten-invite-only-brunches (despite getting a cut of the bar, after all, they have lifestyles to upkeep).

What do you call a small group of people who have a monopoly over an entire industry and act with impunity while they curry favor for the elite?

A cartel.

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