By Alex Roberts
It is a trap that is all too often rendered taboo- creatives of East Africa falling silent on one of the most insidious of false promises: that of exposure, the artist seeking self-establishment finding themselves on a sort of ‘casting couch’ in order to make it; just pass along your work to us, the powerful people will see it.
Has it ever really worked for anyone? It sure hasn’t worked for me; and I’ve been in this writing game longer than I would care to admit you my dear reader, your business should be minded.
How many have dropped out of the game because of these practices? Often times stories are squashed; the attribution of photographs goes empty; galleries take the home the entrance gate.
Is it just me, (paranoid though I may have become, in this era of impending global heat and Trumpism) or is it the same 400-600 people through out the region who have longed seemed to control the proverbial ‘curtain ropes’ that would swing open the possibilities to your career, if only you don’t expect any cash from the endeavor (you have to EARN your place at the table, haven’t you heard?).
This is a systemic problem; one that deserves a long term and permanent solution; if the very same who fuck over and claim no budget then put forth photos from their latest high-end jaunt to Mombasa, Jinja, Stone Town, then perhaps they no longer deserve access to the work of artists? Life went on before them; the creative sector surely will not die from shortness of breath without them.
Truly, this pattern, ‘just do this, and we see what we can do for you’ should not be allowed to continue; these people should be cut out of the loop as they have done to so many before them.
From my end; having a fair bit of random strange media experience collected in dubious fashion over the years, I was last told to ‘work for exposure’ in about December of 2018; less than one year ago. All stroking of ego aside, I once published a story that had 270,000 views…back in 2015. There are cases far more egregious and continuous than mine- that of disproportion in pay; delays in delivery; maltreatment; casting couch culture: all in the name of exposure for artists.
The cyclical nature of this should be stopped; for it is the same parties that are constantly at the center of a web of guilt. It is the same people who buy 12,000 USh cocktails after telling the sound guy that they can’t afford to pay for his transport to the event that they’re throwing; and ‘hopefully they’ll be able to send the cash by Tuesday.’
Fuck those people who live off the delay of the careers of others.