Speech I made at the launch of Heart and Soul on Tuesday 2 July, 2002.

 

Distinguished guests, fellow producers, friends, artists, ladies and gentlemen.

This past Sunday was the second anniversary of the birth of the Meli’s, the Lande’s, the Karani’s and their neighbours.

It was on the 30th of June, 2002, that six of us sat in a room at the Landmark Hotel in Westlands and thought up the names and characteristics of the people whose lives will soon be known to many Africans as “Heart and Soul”; or more likely, “Harten So”.

Eighteen real live people were created between the 30th June and 2nd July, 2000.

To help us write realistic descriptions, Matthew Robinson stuck some photos on a board; some of them were secret photos he had taken of people on the street. There was a picture of a “Mama Stella”, a “Benja” (with twinkling eyes), a “Preacher”, and so on.

 

As the six of us writers talked about out characters’ various doings, their various reactions to the life around them, as we created the “world” in which they would live, we laughed so hard our eyes watered. Anything was possible in this world; people could love, they could sing, they could make decisions that helped them grow, and they could make choices that finished them.

In one instance, Matthew told us about a young actor who was playing a small part in an English drama who irritated everyone so badly that the writers were asked to step in. An encounter with deadly spider in the plot soon had his character in hospital, and dead, and gone.

Maybe it wasn’t so funny for the actor, but it just illustrates how stories can constantly unfold in this style of drama, and how any subject or problem can be dealt with really quickly.

As I sat down the other day, thinking about what to say tonight, I realised something; we’ve finally reach the point where we can talk about Heart and Soul in the past tense.

It’s always been “we’re going to do…” or “it’s going to be about…”, but now, tonight, we can finally say “it’s happened.”

We’re no longer “going to make Heart and Soul”, we’re no longer in the process of making Heart and Soul; Heart and Soul is here. After six long years of planning.

And the more I think about those early days of planning and patient waiting, the more I realise that were also creating something that is quite rare, particularly in Kenya.

It’s a quality that is here tonight and I hope you are aware of it.

I’d like you to ask yourselves how you’re feeling tonight. How are you REALLY feeling?

Because, what we were creating, two years ago, as we invented those characters and plotted their stories, was CONFIDENCE.

And that confidence is here in this room tonight.

We’ve done it! We’ve created something completely new. Everyone in this room.

And we can go on doing it.

We need to remember though, that we’re not the first, and we won’t be the last.

There’ll always be someone who’s done it before, and there’ll always be someone who will do it after us.

We mustn’t squander what we have; this newfound confidence is a gift that we must always be generous enough to share with ourselves and with others.

And in that spirit of sharing, I’d like to present a gift on behalf of Catalyst Africa Marketing, the producers of Heart and Soul, to the five writer/storyliners who were there in that small room at the Landmark Hotel, and who bring to you (with a little help from our sponsors) the story of Heart and Soul.

They are Cajetan Boy, Naomi Kamau, Joy Mboya, Steve Muturi, and Paul Oyier. Would you please come up and receive your gifts.

Thank you.