New Documentary ‘Ni Wakati’ Brings American, East African Artists Together
Ni Wakati is a documentary that deals with issues including the state of hip hop, connections between Africans and African Americans, and the struggles between commercialized and conscious hip hop.
The film follows African American hip hop artists M1 and Umi as they travel to Kenya and Tanzania to meet with artists there. The audience gains an understanding of the dangers East African hip hop faces if it follows the footsteps of the American scene. Socially-conscious artists from all three countries discuss the commercialization of hip hop and the values which artists from all three countries share.
Many of the Kenyan artists in Ni Wakati are familiar to viewers of Wanguhu’s first film, Hip Hop Colony, which dealt with the Kenyan hip hop scene.
Members of Kenya’s Ukoo Flani Mau Mau were featured in the first film and return in Ni Wakati, which, unlike Hip Hop Colony, focuses primarily on socially and political conscious artists. Ukoo Flani Mau Mau was founded by the pioneering hip hop group Kalamashaka and consists of several artists from the Dandora slums of Nairobi.
According to the filmmakers, there are plans to organize fundraisers in the United States to help ongoing projects in East Africa. In Dandora, Ukoo Flani Mau Mau is in the process of building a studio, and funds are needed to help complete the project. In addition, the UAACC needs money to buy a bus to help with the services the centre provides in Arusha.
Wanguhu himself grew up as part of a global hip-hop generation and has had an interest in art since primary school. His entry into documentary filmmaking was sparked by the 1997 documentary Rhyme & Reason. After graduating from the New York Film Academy, Wanguhu returned to Kenya and was inspired to tell the story of the nation’s hip hop performers.