NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Kenyans are beginning to appreciate the need to be positive about their country, an attitude which is likely to go a long way in assisting the Brand Kenya Board to market the country.
The Board’s Chief Executive Officer Mary Kimonye told Capital Business that people have begun to change their mindset about themselves and the country as whole, an attitude change she credits to President Mwai Kibaki’s government’s initiative to encourage citizens to work.
This she pointed out, could for instance be seen in how Kenyans respond to the slogan ‘Najivunia kuwa mkenya\’ (I’m proud to be Kenyan), which is championed by Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua.
“At first it was cynical and Kenyans made a joke out of it with rephrases like \’navumilia kuwa mkenya\’, or \’najihurumia kuwa mkenya\’. But now Kenyans have dropped the notion that they are \’surviving\’ and immediately started living and working hard,” she said.
This, she said was encouraging but added that there’s a need for politicians to change their attitude as well and refrain from making inflammatory remarks.
“It is very sad to have leaders that have a negative attitude about developing a country\’s brand,” she regretted.
The CEO reckoned that the board, established in March 2009 to help develop the national identity and image and instil confidence and national pride in Kenyans, has to a large extent tried to fulfil its mandate.
“Considering how and when it started, when I was the only employee of the organisation a few years ago to where we are now; I am giving it a solid eight – it has been receiving 9\’s and 10\’s from the rest of Africa. In a recent event in South Africa we received a standing ovation from the panel and attendees of the event, and as was said by Simon Hanolt (whom she refers to as the Mercedes Benz of Country branding) ‘Kenya has got it right’,” Mrs Kimonye said.
The board has developed several programs that are geared towards ensuring that Kenyans appreciate and purchase local products. There is also an initiative to rebrand the public service as well as trying to get Kenyan in the Diaspora to market the country abroad.
She however stressed that transforming the country into a brand is the collective responsibility of all Kenyans from the ‘President to that young school kid’.
As such, she added that Kenyans should strive to emulate good practices and cultures from different countries in the world.
“We have a beautiful country from every single angle you look at it from. I want to make Kenya that place that everybody wants to always be in. Every country was built by people; so we need to learn from leading countries and come back to develop ours,” the CEO added.
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