On the latest episode of African Voices, CNN International travels to Kenya and goes behind the scenes of East Africa’s biggest comic convention with the man who started it, Thomas Imboywa.
Since childhood Imboywa has had a passion for comics, gaming and animation and felt that Kenya needed a platform for people like him to express their ‘inner geek’. He explains to CNN: “We love all these weird geeky stuff… We were like we can’t afford to go to San Diego Comic Con, or New York Comic Con, or these huge comic cons internationally [so] let’s build our own…. At the core of it we are kids. We love stories that just put us out there… A comic con brings all these things together and what we do is we created an event where it revolves around majorly three things, animation, gaming and comics.”
In 2014 Imboywa successfully founded the Nairobi Comic Con (NAICCON). He tells the programme about how he was able to create East Africa’s biggest comic convention: “Persistence is very important… We’ve spoken to a lot of partners, guys like Liquid who now are our title sponsors and partners in terms of internet connectivity… It wasn’t a fast engagement… We’d send emails, make phone calls, go to their office for like two years I think, just going, sending, calling, going, sending, calling, like it was a blackout.”
African Voices visits NAICCON 2018 to learn more about the theme of the latest convention. Imboywa explains: “This year we are having the event at the Nairobi Hospital Convention Centre and the theme is Asylum… Asylum because of the venue, we are at a hospital… Asylum, for the insanely creative and madly talented. That’s our tagline, so just as long as you are that we are welcoming you, because we are crazy too.”
Last year, 3,000 people attended the event and Imboywa hopes this year will also be a success. He tells CNN: “This year it’s a test. We’ve always had our events at malls… this one, we are nowhere near a mall, so we are not anticipating foot traffic. So, this one it’s an audience that wants the content that is here.”
Imboywa hopes children who attend NAICCON will have the opportunity to explore their excitement for comics, gaming and animation as well as meet likeminded people, he says: “It’s the passion these kids have. It’s the drive they have, it’s the dedication they have… And it’s fun to see them getting a platform to do it and hang out with fellow guys who love also what they do and appreciate what they do. That excites me the most, so seeing them having fun, seeing them just letting loose in their own communities, that’s exciting… 20 years from now these 19-year-olds are the decision makers.”