36 min

MEMES, Part 10: Makmende Endless Thread

    • Technology

We know that there have been meme wars in America, and that Donald Trump has been called the “first president meme’d into office.” But in Kenya—a country where one of the only feasible forms of political expression is memes, and meme creators are being jailed for criticizing the government, it is a very different story. Western media told countless stories about the viral music video character known as “Makmende.” They called Makmende “The Kenyan Chuck Norris,” or a sound-alike of the famous Norris line, “Make my day.” But, according to the artists who brought Makmende into being, none of these characterizations are accurate. We explore American myopia, the peril of memes and artistic expression in Kenya, and how we should think of memes as a powerful form of communication.

We know that there have been meme wars in America, and that Donald Trump has been called the “first president meme’d into office.” But in Kenya—a country where one of the only feasible forms of political expression is memes, and meme creators are being jailed for criticizing the government, it is a very different story. Western media told countless stories about the viral music video character known as “Makmende.” They called Makmende “The Kenyan Chuck Norris,” or a sound-alike of the famous Norris line, “Make my day.” But, according to the artists who brought Makmende into being, none of these characterizations are accurate. We explore American myopia, the peril of memes and artistic expression in Kenya, and how we should think of memes as a powerful form of communication.

36 min

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