Disclaimer – I am a nominee for the Kalasha Awards 2019 for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY. But note that the category is not being voted for, so I am not soliciting for votes.
It is because I got nominated in the Kalasha Awards that I took a keen interest in the ongoings of Kalasha Awards 2019. Ever since I was informed that I got nominated, I have followed every update about the awards, and paid keen attention to the their voting process. This year, voting for Kalasha Awards is through the StarTimes ON App, where those who intend to vote for their favorite actors, actresses, Best TV Show, Best Feature film and others can do so via the App.
To vote is quite simple; what you have to do is to download the StarTimes App, maybe register (I’m not sure), then scroll the thumbnail pictures under FEATURED until you come to Kalasha Awards. Click on the Kalasha thumbnail and you will be ready to vote. The page for nominations can also be accessed by clicking on the Kalasha link below every thumbnail. When I did that, I noticed one big problem.
You know as any list will have it, there will always be the person on top of the list. On occasions when such lists consist of nominees, the person on top of the list is not necessarily the best. Sometimes the list is organized alphabetically, sometimes it is organised by first come first served basis, and other times it is organized through randomization. Whatever the criteria, it is never meant to put the best nominee on top of the list. This is true for all nominations. The problem comes when such lists are taken to the public for voting, and this is what is currently happening with Kalasha Awards.
Going through the votes that have been received by various nominees, I noticed that the nominee with the highest number of votes under every category is the first nominee in the list. By the time of penning this for example, under Best Lead Actor category we have:
- The first in the list is Martin Githinji, and he has 308 votes.
- The second in the list is Nick Mutuma, and he has 193 votes,
- Third in the list is George Mo and he has 139 votes,
- Fourth is Joe Kinyua and he has 69 votes,
- While Brian Ogola who is last in the list has 59 votes.
Moving to Best Lead Actress category we have Sarah Hassan being first in her category list and she has 465 votes. The others in this category have 80, 53, 47 and 44 votes respectively.
The same trend where the first nominee in every category has the highest number of votes is true for all the other categories namely Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Feature Film, Best Documentary, Best Short Film, and Best Local Language Film. Categories for Television and Special Awards have not been spared either.
What the above tell you is that being top in the nomination list confers the nominee with unfair advantage. This works in two ways; psychologically and convenience. Psychologically humans will always consider the person on top of any list as the best (or worst) in that list. When for example I told my wife that out of 150 PP2 pupils who had qualified for class 1 admission our son was number 5, she was disappointed. She asked me why he wasn’t on top of the list. Telling her that the list was organized alphabetically did not help the situation, even when she understood perfectly that ranking by performance has been abolished in the CBC Education System.
Nominees on top of any voting list are also conferred unfair advantage due to convenience. For example anyone going to vote for the nominees in StarTimes ON App, and do not have any preferred nominees either because no one in particular referred them to the App or they actually know none of the nominees, will find it convenient to just vote for the first person in the nomination list. Also, if one person nominated in one category referred a voter to the App, and the person has voted for his/her candidate who is only in one category, this voter is likely to vote for first nominees in all other categories.
The logic outlined above should remain true for any competitions that require public voting.
Then there is the issue of popularity. The point I want to raise below should apply to ALL other competitions that utilizes voting processes, be they political, organizational, ideological, or whatever competition it is. Kenya’s current economic situation provides a perfect example.
Right now almost everyone agrees that puting Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in State House is the worst mistakes Kenyans ever committed. The sole reason those two ended up leading Kenya is not because they were the best, but it is because they were the most popular. Back to Kalasha Awards 2019, it is very likely an actor/actress may emerge the best, or a film can emerge as the Best Feature Film or TV Show, but that won’t be because they are the best, it will only be because those actors or Producers behind the winning films have the highest number of friends they can lobby to vote for them.
What I am trying to communicate is that when it comes to items that need to be judged in terms of quality, objective quality parameters should be used to judge those items – quality parameters that can readily be understood by the experts in those fields. To continue using Kalasha Awards 2019 as an example, I highly commend the process through which the nominee list was arrived at – and it is the same process BAKE always uses to arrive at their nominee lists every year.
The process involves subjecting all entries to judges who choose their best five in every category, come up with a list, then their list is taken to the public for voting. And this is what I am saying should be abolished.
What should be adopted instead is two set of judges – where the first stage can be called a jury, and the second stage can be called judges – terminologies don’t matter really. The first stage of judgement is where we have those who filter out trash from real stuff. The real stuff doesn’t have be 5 nominations per category, but any film/movie that meets minimum quality criteria can be filtered in. Then those filtered in can be taken to the second stage of judgement, where through the use of stringent quality parameters, the judges confer the Best Title to a particular film or person.
The only voting process that should be acceptable is averaging the marks awarded by the judges, so that the film, actor/actress, or crew member with the highest marks receives the award in that category. What I have described is the process that Kenya National Drama and Film Festival employs to award dramas and films that participate in their annual competitions. The same process is also applied by LIPFF (Lake International Film Festival) where two of my films have received a total of six nominations, and other festivals around the world.