Creativity, a term associated with concepts like “invention and innovation”, “design” “coming up with unique products”, “thinking straight out of the box”, and “African solution for African problems”, is an energy consuming and extremely difficult to perform mental task. If creativity is done, great products and interesting contents are born. All innovations in technology, manufacturing, and excellent art works sprung out of creative minds, minds that are diminishing at an accelerating rate.
Writing on Medium, Kevin Ashton tells us that creativity is a word that “was made up less than a hundred years ago” and that “it is time to stop using it.” Ashton explains creativity as a process where “new things are created by “geniuses” who solve problems by deliberately not thinking about them?—?a step called “incubation”?—?until they receive answers in sudden, dramatic moments of “insight””. Ashton goes ahead to explain how this definition, that majority have associated with creativity, was coined from forgery. Please read his article, and also remember to read another of his, The Creativity Myth.
The definition of creativity that we’ll lean on is the one offered by Wikipedia. Creativity is defined as “a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed”, “the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile” “”characterized by originality and expressiveness and imaginative”. Creativity can be related to “general intelligence, mental and neurological processes, personality type and creative ability, and mental health”.
Thus, products generated by creativity are new, valuable, original and worthwhile. When these qualities are combined in one continuum, it is easy to see why it tasks the mind to “think creatively”. What new product would you, a creative person, innovate that is both valuable and worthwhile? A new product means none of the over seven billion human beings alive and dead must have invented it. It must be a product that has sprung up completely out of the box.
The difficulty with which Kenyans face creativity has been explained by Kachwanya in several of his startup articles, latest being Kenyan Innovation Acquired for more than Ksh. 154 Million. In the article, Kachwanya wrote, “Kenya and Africa have many problems but not many people are coming up with clear cut solutions. Many people are trying to sort out First world problems while living in the third world country…and their ideas and solutions end up in the dustbin because people in the first world countries have inherent advantage which allow them to do it better”, and that’s a neat explanation of how Kenyans cannot be creative.
The other area where our creativity has been thoroughly wanting is in the entertainment industry. Although I recommended some five ways to promote local content in Kenya and called on our producers and artists to be creative and generate interesting content, I am convinced that to a large extent most of Kenyans cannot be creative. The comedy sub-sector that has picked up pretty well in Kenya thanks to people like Daniel Ndambuki, is a perfect place to use as an example.
On Twitter, Kachwanya spearheaded a debate questioning the narrowness with which our comedians choose comic topics. He tweeted:
— Kachwanya (@kachwanya) April 23, 2015
And as usual, a Kenyan was quick to ask Kachwanya to come up with suggestions, in a manner to suggest that Kenyans cannot think outside the tribal lines.
A quick commentary on that response – yes, death, religion, illness and poverty can be creatively used to generate great humour. As a first step, one can read Bikozulu.co.ke to see how Jackson Biko humorously talk to hearts about these aspects of life. But as a pointer to other fields that our comedians can draw their comedy from, Kachwanya responded:
Economic jokes…tech jokes, healthcare jokes..Devolution jokes…Constitution jokes…eeeh why Kenyans only laugh at Tribal jokes? #NTVKe
— Kachwanya (@kachwanya) April 23, 2015
Kachwanya’s response was replied to by a suggestion that what the comedians can do is to use services of talented creative thinkers to help them come up with jokes from a wide variety of fields.
Now that is clear that we can hardly think creatively, what should we do about our economic development? There are three options:
- Continue being a net importer of products and services
- Rethink about our creativity process to restart our creative thinking a new
- Copy paste existing products but change the font colour – (plagiarism?)
Check Next Page for the discussion.
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