Celebrity culture an influence to youth in Kenya


Celebrities of the Jungle

Most teenagers and youth in Kenya are rocked with an identity crisis when it comes to Celebrity. The Celebrity culture negatively or positively impacts on their general Lifestyles. Some youth are attracted and motivated by the financial package that comes with the Celebrity status while others admire the recognition and fame.

In the popular youth culture in Kenya, a Celebrity is normally referred to as a Celeb, Celebo or to some Sonko.It is a common trend by youth to refer to each other as Sonko or Celeb usually when one appears on media occasionally or when one of their own acquires some instant or gradual level of financial stability and extend some generosity to his hood.

‘Sonko’ is a term that popularly originated from the urban youth to mean that one has bales of money. Many young people from slam areas in urban settings spontaneously discovered their musical talents and exploited them to rise to Celebrity status.

Naturally a Celebrity in Kenya would have a prominent profile with the media and can be easily identified or recognized. A Kenyan Celebrity would sometimes be identified with all the wrong things but among the Kenya youth this only uplifts their popularity.


Celebrity in Kenya, how do they earn their status?

In practice a Celebrity status might be associated with certain professions and in frequent media appearances for examples in Kenya, youth consider most musicians to be Celebs not necessarily because of their music but because of their fancy lifestyles.

Some celebrities in Kenya have strategically earned their status through career or professional planning for example in the case of athletes and some footballers. Look at the likes of the youthful athletes like the late Samuel Wanjiru, Paul Tergat and many more. What about in football where we have Celebrity figures such as Denis Oliech and Macdonald Mariga.

Other Celebrity figures in Kenya acquired their status through accidental means or as a result of infamy. These include some musicians and politicians like the MP for Makadara nicknamed ‘Sonko’ for many positive and wrong reasons.

“Instant celebrity” is a term used to describe someone who becomes a celebrity in a very short period of time. In some instances it could refer to someone who achieves a small amount of transient fame. This could extend to someone who falls short of persistent pursuit of fame but seeks to exploit it in later years.

The expansion of the media industry has enabled Celebrity figures and both upcoming and accomplished actors, musicians and dancers to be viewed more often and in more media channel.

Faces and categories of Celebrity in Kenya

Regional and cultural celebrity figures in Kenya

In most of our regional and cultural establishments we find different and independent systems of Celebrity with unique hierarchies in the musical, film, television and sports stars.  A person considered as Celebrity in one culture or region might be considered less famous or obscure in another.

Some of our local musicians or actors might command attention outside Kenya and find none back home. A local celebrity is a person well known in one locality but are little known elsewhere.

A political leader in Kenya might have Celebrity status within a particular constituency or might be unique to a particular political grouping. We have tribal leaders or other opinion leaders who acquire Celebrity status.

Careers that produce Celebrity figures in Kenya

The youthful Kenyans have always wanted to associate or identify a role model amongst Celebrity figures who have achieved Celebrity status through successful professional activities that are highly paying. Usually these professions are likely to be challenging or difficult to excel.

Such professions include local movie stars, local television actors and news presenters and anchors with lead roles in prominently scheduled shows. High-ranking politicians, businessmen, national television reporters, radio personalities, “supermodels, successful athletes and chart-topping musicians are also likely to acquire Celebrity status in Kenya.

In Kenya very few humanitarian leaders have acquired or earned Celebrity status due to less attention or biased media recognition.

Very few Kenyan prominent lawyers, journalists and dancers have achieved Celebrity status, celebrity is not necessary tagged to success in these fields in Kenya.

Celebrity families in Kenya

Some families in Kenya acquired Celebrity through historical and political backgrounds that placed them at a higher advantage from others especially in terms of wealth and political reasons.

Politically in Kenya we have notable Celebrity families who are extremely wealthy, such as the Kenyatta family, the Odinga family, Daniel Moi, Mudavadi, Kibaki, Awori, Njenga Karume and the Nyachae families.

Celebrity and social networking in Kenya

Celebrity figures in Kenya have been known to flock social networking sites such as Twitter, Face book and You tube. Social networking sites are important in connecting Celebrity figures to communicate directly with their fans, giving them an extra mileage in improving on their popularity.

Social networking humanizes Celebrity figures in a way that arouses young Kenyans fascination as evident by some successful weekly features from some of our local newspapers and magazines.

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