The Price of Being a Kenyan Celebrity
“Dreams are valid” become the motto for each and every Kenyan when Lupita Nyong’o won the Oscar for the film 12 Years a Slave. Who would have ever imagined a Kenyan would reach big time Hollywood let alone reach and win the Oscar?
Lupita is an icon in many ways for young Kenyans, she showed that when you dream, work hard and have the right connections, you really can achieve whatever you want. She definitely put Kenya on the radar of Hollywood but her recent “attendance” at a fashion show or dinner caused a bigger stir. Her precious meeting time was being auctioned, made fun of or admired. On top of that because she was coming home after her mega success this “dinner date price” was trending as if she was carrying a “price tag”.
Forget about Lupita first let’s talk about celebrity status and what they bring to the table. A celebrity attracts both positive and negative attention, for example Salman Khan shirtless is hype for millions, Salman Khan doing charity is hype for millions. But hold on there is a difference between these “millions”, you just have to decide which side you are on. Salman Khan shirtless is hype for millions of admirers, whether women, girls, men, boys etc. This is called glamour and it is part of the job, he has to keep the fans interested in his looks that why he sells. Salman Khan doing charity attracts millions to the type of charity, the problems, solutions, organizers, victims etc. This is called using star power to push a worthy cause. Celebrities all over the world do this and yes they charge or maybe not that is up to them. Now you must be asking why should they charge if this is for charity? Excuse me, nothing in this world is for free, if somebody asked you to make a special appearance, unless you are not receiving anything in return in cash or kind, the chances are very high you will not do it wholeheartedly. I am not sure if people like the Dalai Lama charge for their appearances but I am sure you are following my drift.
Now, let’s get back to “home celebrities” and Lupita Nyong’o. She doesn’t owe Kenya or Kenyans anything. Actually she owes her family and friends, her agent, her colleagues and especially herself. They all got her to where she is today. So if she charges or supports a worthy cause or even had a mega concert and she made an appearance and charged for it, she is supposed to, it is her bread and butter and her personal discretion. In fact if Kenyan celebrities don’t charge then they will never get their status and earnings. We have to stop treating “local celebrities” like “by the ways”, it is so cheap of you the corporate, community body, organizers etc to pay them peanuts because you think you are giving them a platform. Excuse me, you are not doing them a favor, they are raising the profile of your cause, function, concert etc, you should respect their talent and time. This is why there is a lack of professionalism and headlines such as Lupita’s dinner caused a silly stir.
Obviously money raised from the event will go to the expenses of putting the dinner together and thereafter support the cause. Stop being petty and devalue her celebrity status. When you are buying a designer/branded bag you have no choice but to pay for the “brand price”, just like that a celebrity too has a “brand value” and if you don’t respect that then you are also not valuing yourself. Thus, Kenya and its people loose their own celebrities, because when they are not valued, appreciated and paid deservedly they seek fame and fortune elsewhere.
If you don’t make the change, nobody else will. Imagine your child is growing up to be a rock star or the next Lupita, are you going to cut corners then? Doing charity dinners with celebrities is a way of attracting a positive impact on the cause and for media to spread the word about what is the problem. Don’t underestimate the charity, they have done as much as possible and once in a while using a celebrity for a boost is not against any ethics, it is called Public Relations, support it or don’t participate but don’t mock it for no reason.