On Thursday a Kenyan model by the name of Sheila Kanini took to Twitter with the hashtag #PayModelsKe and opened up about the demoralizing aspect to her chosen profession, “Good Morning, so I’m going to address some issues so that when you wake up you can join me in this conversation. First and foremost, I have stopped modeling for Kenyan brands until further notice, this means, do not refer me and do not contact me, I’m not taking any jobs for now,” she wrote in one of her tweets.
— Sheila Kanini (@sheila_kanini) February 8, 2018
Like Alyssa Milano when she revived the #MeToo clarion call, Kanini probably didn’t see the tsunami of reactions her shared experience would elicit. She thought she was all alone in what she equated to modern day enslavement only to realise that many models slave away in silence, this was evident a few minutes later when the conversation got ‘lit’ and other models opened up about their less than glamorous experiences.
The former pageant queen now commercial model was not the only one who highlighted the exploitation many models experience in the Kenyan industry. Among some of the more relatable comments was “the reason I quit modeling is because of this ‘kusumbuana’ with agencies to pay you”, said Valmy, one of the models. Some models have since confessed to being kept on the waiting list from months to years before they get paid, and still, it is a gamble since most of the contract terms and conditions are dishonored.
I auditioned for an advert with a communications company ,was later called with the terms and conditions "I was to hook up with the guy that evening give him a blow job in his car and as we were to shoot in different cities, I was to sleep with him throughout the shoot. I QUIT
— purity (@pumwendwa) February 8, 2018
The better known brands in Kenya have been mentioned more than once in the list of shame, based on the confessions made via the hashtag. Drum, True Love, Pulse magazines among others, are alleged to be practiced in the culture of taking advantage of, underpaying and violating contract agreements with models. Another major fashion industry player shamed is Couture Africa Magazine. The fashion magazine quickly put out a press release in response to the allegations.
— Francis Gaitho (👊) (@Kenyafootball) February 9, 2018
Dennis Itumbi, Senior Director of Innovation, Digital and Diaspora Communication in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya also had a few things to say about the trending topic. It is still unclear if new policies will be created to remedy the situation and cut out the rot within the entertainment industry.
I salute @sheila_kanini for speaking out on #PayModelsKE. That is a bold first step. I love the hashtag. Read almost all the tweets. However, for the benefit of the industry the conversations needs to move to empowerment and joint negotiation platforms
— Dennis Itumbi, HSC (@OleItumbi) February 8, 2018