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Policing the Police

Fighting corruption with cartoons 

It’s no secret that corruption is rampant among Kenya’s police force. Paying a bribe is often the only way citizens can avoid false charges and bogus fines, or speed up services. A new report by Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has confirmed what people already suspected. The 2017 National Ethics and Corruption Survey released in October 2018 found that the number of people paying bribes to obtain public services rose from 46 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2017. In the most corrupt institutions category, Kenya Police was ranked first.

Makarao (Swahili slang for “police”) is a popular online animation series that follows the lives and antics of two fictional policemen in Kenya. The stories use sharp humor to focus on the many and often absurd ways policemen, especially traffic police, demand bribes and harass average citizens. Makarao is one of the highest viewed Kenyan animations on YouTube. The episodes are shorter than two minutes so fans share them widely through their mobile phones. 

“If a Matatu (mini-bus) has a pregnant woman inside, then it's carrying an 'excess' passenger! Don't argue with the government.”

Mfalme Productions 

Alex Kirui (30) is the director and lead animator of Makarao, and the founder and creative director of Mfalme Productions, which makes the series. He tells us Mfalme Productions focuses on politics, corruption and social integration, and acknowledges Family Guy and Seth Macfarlane to be an inspiration for his work. 

R.O.O.M.

Resource of Open Minds (R.O.O.M.) is a new Hivos program that supports the global creative work and projects of artists, musicians and media producers around the world. We believe in the power of digital technologies to question dominant structures in society while appealing to a broad audience. Working at the intersection of art, media, design and technology, R.O.O.M. is the place for a new generation of creative futurists: young with a critical mind-set and a do-it-yourself attitude. Their aim? To strive for openness and imagine new realities around the world.