The Gender Agenda in Kenyan Children’s Feature Films
An Analysis of the Role of the Child Character in Exploring Gender Issues
The gender agenda has featured substantially in creative works from Africa and particularly Kenya. Although film is considered a new form of creative expression in Africa, compared to the west, it has not been excluded in exploring gender issues. While the gender discussion has prominently featured adults, the Kenyan film has gone a step further and explored gender on a different level. Gender has been explored from the point of view of the child and employed the child character as a suitable medium. Kenyan filmmakers by employing the child character on the subject of gender seem to suggest that engendering of any member of the society begins in childhood and progresses into adulthood. This is a unique aspect about the Kenyan film yet has not been critically examined. This paper therefore examines the child character and the exploration of gender in Kenyan films about children to ascertain the significance of the child character in exploring gender issues in society. It focuses on three selected films that extensively explore the engendering of children namely: Subira, Malika and Becoming A Girl. The films mainly focus on the engendering of the girl child by the society and that this happens in childhood. They also employ the girl child as a
character in exploring the issue of gender. Examination of the child character will be guided by the Sociological theory of film and the Formalist film theory. The structure of the paper is as follows: A background on the gender issue in creative works, theoretical perspectives on gender, analysis of Kenyan children’s films on gender and conclusions on the use of the child character in exploring gender.