Name: Ojay – The Spin Doctor
Occupation: Arts Manager and Festival Guru
Location / Base: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania / Zanzibar
Social Media or Website Links:
Art and Environment:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPErnt9O2sM
The Space TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrlU_SuhL-0 & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPaawePi4b4
He is diligent and creatively lethal, read today’s local dailies – we have no words!! Haashim Dave Oduor also known as Ojay is 34 years young with five years’ experience in the media industry and over a decade in the events, arts and culture fraternity. Ojay holds a diploma in Journalism and Public Relations from a national polytechnic and a second diploma in Leadership and Management of CSOs (Development, Media, Arts & Culture) from Strathmore University. Since the year 2000 He has enjoyed continuous involvement in the arts and media sector, unleashing and implementing creative concepts in project management, community development and event management beats. These have taken his skills to a greater degree and earned him the name The Spin Doctor by an established German Artistic Director, Raimund Pousset.
Ojay regularly works as a consultant with leading cultural organizations and individual house hold artists like Suzanna Owiyo, Eric Wainaina, Juliani, Juacali, Sauti Sol, Iddi Achieng (All KE) and Mzungu Kichaa (TZ) among others through out East Africa for cultural productions and project implementation. Apart from his home country (Kenya), Ojay has worked in diverse cultural settings in several countries ranging from Senegal, South Africa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mali, Tanzania/Zanzibar and toured as an actor with a musical play in Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
He founded Naam Festival that piloted in December 2013 (Naam is a Swahili word for acknowledgement or yes and also means large water body in native Luo Language) It is an idea brought about by a group of established creative operators based in Kenya with tremendous global exposure in the cultural sector for economic growth, awareness, regional cohesion, environmental conservation and cultural appreciation around one of the world’s largest lake that need all the attention it deserves – Lake Victoria. So Yes! Naam, Its time to save Lake Victoria and empower young people to create themselves employment with available resources and great creative talent for cultural and agricultural entrepreneurship. The festival is set up on the shores of Lake Victoria giving the audience a spectacular view of Lake Victoria from the lakeshores. The festival team in an effort to try the concept out executed a test edition themed ‘farming is cool’ which is also an initiative by Kenyan hiphop start Juliani that seeks to encourage the youth to venture into farming.
Ojay also co-founded Undone Theatre Projects in 2008 to redefine local theatre, create original African production with meaningful content and move theatre into daring spaces. Ojay dreams of a thriving media and arts sector, decentralized from urban areas with professional standards. Apart from running Naam Festival, He works on consultancy basis with Media Development in Africa (MEDEVA), Sawa Sawa Festival, GoDown Arts Centre in Kenya, Sauti Za Busara festival in Zanzibar/Tanzania and was involved in collaborative initiatives with Bayimba festival of the arts in Uganda such as he Doa Doa East African performing arts market.
Ojay recently served at Arterial Network – Kenyan chapter as Arterial Network’s National Creative Arts Projects Director after successfully being elected at the 2012 National elections. His role was to help design creative sustainable projects with significant impact across Kenya, strengthening and collaborating with existing projects. Arterial network was established at a convention on Goree Island, Senegal, in 2007. Arterial Network is engaged in building sustainable networks and structures; information dissemination; facilitation of debate, research and African-centred theory; formulation and lobbying of cultural policy; a variety of training and leadership programmes, all geared towards growing and strengthening the cultural and creative sectors. Ojay recently opted out of employment where he was working as the Programmes and Marketing Manager at Kuona Trust Art Centre to concentrate on Naam Festival and set up office space in Kisumu located at Alliance Francaise, Milimani-Kisumu.
Check out Ojay related links
Soko Bila Waste: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPErnt9O2sM
Africa Unsigned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jq78iJMV24Q
The Space: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrlU_SuhL-0
The Space: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPaawePi4b4
Other Projects: Lwanda Musical now MoFaya, Worl Social Forum 2007, European Union Non State Actors Programme 2011 (Participation in governance through mass media and arts) Umoja Cultural Flying Carpet/Sarakasi Tust – Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Norway and Netherlands, Rift Valley Festival – Naivasha 2013, Zanzibar International Film Festival 2014.
- Creative Journey:
Ojay’s creative life cycle started off as a cartoonist with Kenya rebus cartoons and Nation Media Group during his early college years in 2002. During the same time he partnered together with Valentine Ziki and taught Drama, Dance and Poetry at Shadrack Kimalel Primary where he schooled in Ngumo estate, Nairobi. Ojay was very active in music and drama festivals as he went through primary and secondary education that he was always travelling through the 8 provinces fro the national competitions. His career started off as a journalist after graduating from a national Polytechnic and later quit after three years of hustling for a more serious role in the newsroom. After setting up a graphic design and sign writing kiosk, he went into Performing arts as a part time engagement and decided to fully join the theatre circle in 2005, which provided him with an opportunity to tour around East Africa and parts of Europe in the name of theatre.
During his formative years in theater he had a strong feeling that something was pushing him out of the performing stage. Ojay developed a strong desire to change some practices in the industry but he didn’t know how.
He was greatly motivated after touring -with the support of the Dutch Embassy – the big musical Kigezi Ndoto through Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in 2006. Apart from performing, he always got the small production responsibilities of taking care of costumes & props, ensuring stage and equipments are in order, and being the leader of the cast or double up as a stage manager.
Ojay later decided to go behind the scenes to try impact the changes he deemed vital, especially with regard to artists and production management standards. He was not impressed by the way artist like him were been treated especially in the local scene, a total different scenario on how artist are handled at the international festivals.
The experience in the industry opened more possibilities and opportunity for Ojay who developed an interest in both performing and artist management career, though later he settled to be an arts administrator.
He got involved in several productions thereafter that gave him professional status which increasingly made a name for Ojay as a diligent, creative, daring, multitasking and productions/stage manager.
His first big job as a stage manager was working with Kenya great artist Eric Wainaina on a musical play (Lwanda – A Ghetto Story, now MoFaya) an opportunity that he says brought him closer to Godown art centre. Through the advice of key players in the industry, Ojay was challenged to apply for an internship program (Leadership and management training for Young Development Professionals-Media, arts and culture, 2007/8) an initiative by the Aga Khan Foundation.
He was later attached as a Programs Coordinator and Audience Development officer at the GoDown, performing various roles, which opened many other possibilities for Ojay.
Integrating his skills he worked in various programs and big projects, building his capacity as a creative and arts administrator/manager.
He has worked with the Sarakasi Trust’s Sawa Sawa festival since 2007 and as a Project Manager with the Pan African crowd funding initiative for new artist – Africa Unsigned, implementing and coordinating various activities within Eastern, Western and Southern parts of Africa namely Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It is during this particular assignment that Ojay was inspired to put together a proposal and start a festival on Lake Victoria after attending in 2009 the Festival Sur Le Niger in Segou, Mali as a talent scout for unsigned talent. However the dream was only tested most recently in 2013.
Currently Ojay’s main focus is establishing an African inspired Festival on the shores of Africa’s largest fresh water lake. Piloted in December 2013 at Kisumu Beach Resort and themed ‘Farming is Cool’ Naam Festivals’ main aim is to establish a locally sustained platform that inspires East African artists to promote and conserve indigenous and traditional cultures for peaceful coexistence, social and economic empowerment around the lake basin and environmentally conserve the widely abused Lake Victoria, a natural resource shared by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The lake is regarded as the main source of the Nile and has generated tension over the past with boarder conflicts among the countries sharing its waters. Ojay with other partners held an exchange program and a mini Nile day festival in Nairobi on the 22nd Feb 2014 with the Nile Project artists from the 11 Nile basin countries. The Nile project seeks to demystify the tension around the Nile waters through culture and celebration of the shared waters of the Nile, regarded as Egypt’s’ life artery.
Arts and Culture for a vibrant, conscious and environmentally friendly East African community
An internationally celebrated platform showcasing East African indigenous and contemporary culture for economic and social empowerment of the people and peaceful co-existence around the lake basin.
- 12-18 months plan
- Build Admin. Structure, Resource Mobilization and Set up of Festival Office at Kisumu – Space Donated by Alliance Francaise Offices Kisumu Jul/Aug/Sept -Dec 2014
- Initiate Local programming – Workshops/Exchange Residency/Local film screenings – Oct/Nov/Dec 2014
- Develop local and regional database, Formal Registration, Publicity Drill Sept2014 -Feb 2015
- Introduce Naam Jinja-Uganda & Naam Mwanza-Tanzania platforms with partners FEB-MAR 2015
- Execute Festival debut edition launch Apr 2015 and identify income generation ventures for exploitation
- Carry out a Local Art Sector (within Nyanza/Western Kenya) and Lake Victoria Economy Research with partners May-Aug 2015
- Influence at least one relevant policy or draft a bill for debate with some friendly parliamentarians Dec 2015