Makmende Craze Produces Kenya’s First Viral Sensation

March 31, 2010


Makmende AmerudiTo someone born in the 1980s, who went to primary school in the early to mid 1990s, the name Makmende brings back a nostalgia. It takes you back to your primary school days when the strongest person in the class was called Makmende. If one started acting tough after watching Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris movies, people would ask why are you trying to be a Makmende. All said and done, who is Makmende? Makmende is the newest viral sensation from Kenya by Music Group Just a Band. Prominent Kenyan Blogger Moses Kemibaro was the first call it as Kenya’s first viral sensation.

The New music video HA HE by Just A Band has sparked a viral sensation unseen in Kenya Before. Ha He is a track of their second album 82, a follow up of their debut Scratch to Reveal. Famous for their Do-it-yourself style of production, the group makes their own beats, their own music videos and Album Art and Photography. The band had been trying to get their material played on Music video shows in the mainstream media but kept being rejected. They They then decided to release their videos on to the internet and have since grown a faithful fan base. The result, a viral sensation.

Here is the video

A viral video is a video that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through Internet media sharing websites like Youtube and social social media sites like Facebook and Twitter . Viral videos often contain humorous content. The popularity of the video grows as people watch the video, enjoy it and refer it to their friends who in turn recommend it to other friends.

The video has 1970s retro theme, inspired by American Blaxploitation movies like Shaft. In an interview with Arcade 44 Jim Chuchu said inspiration for the video was drawn form a trailler for Black Dynamite. The color, the attire and hairstyles are truly a throw back from the 1970s, Just a Band even managed to throw in a Peugeot 304 the only surviving car from the 1970s. The video avoids any shots of modern day Nairobi to give an authentic back in the day feeling.

The basic plot features the hero “Makmende”, the Suave, Bad Ass with fists of steel. Looking for something we are not told about. Makmende delivers a thorough beating to similar to Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris beating the truth out of a villain. We later learn in the video that Makmende is out to rescue a kidnapped damsel in distress. The Video has faces recognizable faces of people who took part in reality TV shows. Kevin “K1” Maina who took part in the KTN Talent search show, the Presenter, stars as Makmende. Patricia Kihoro who plays the Damsel in Distress Brittania Zimeisha was a contestant in the Music Talent Search Tusker Project Fame 3.

The names of the fictional characters are just down right humorous though you would have to be Kenyan or lived in Kenya to get the joke. Take a name like Wrong Number which is Kenyan old school slang for a Gangster or bad guy, Brittania is a brand of popular biscuits and Zimeisha is Kiswahili for they are finished so combining gives “the biscuits are finished”.

The popularity of the Makmende Character is fast spreading with the Makmende Facebook group having 29, 405 fans as of Saturday. The Rate at which the topic is growing is making it the most “twitted” topic from Kenya on Twitter. This is according to trends map ,a site dedicated to monitoring tweets from around the world on a given topic as they happen in real time. The Youtube video of “Ha He” had over 30, 000 hits The Bloggers have also jumped on the band wagon generating a lot of buzz. The Photoshop Savvy have also created fake Time, Esquire and GQ covers for their Favourite hero.

Makmende on Esquire
Makmende Man of the Year

Makmende Man of the Year

Makmende on Esquire

The kind of buzz that is currently that is currently being taken to new levels by the Makmende one-liners, the jokes on Makmende. Some of the one liners are outright funny, others disgusting, some recycled from Jack Bauer and Chuck Norris Jokes to outright tasteless. Some read,

  • Makmende can withdraw M-Pesa from his Orange line or
  • Makmende is the only person who can pocket while nude or
  • its Makmende’s world, we just live in it,
  • Always look before you leap. Unless Makmende is chasing you. Then you had better just jump.
  • The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Makmende kicked one of the corners off.

Just as Makmende fans are increasing by the day so too are the number of Makmende haters. Though small in number they too can not be ignored. There are currently a number of Anti-Makmende groups on Facebook. There are also anti-Makmende Tweets being released daily. This group can not understand why something they consider childish and a waste of time is getting the kind of coverage it is getting in the Kenyan Press , even from the international press.

With all the buzz around the Makmende Character has seen opportunists try to cash in on the phenomenon. Sites like Makmende.net and Makmende.com have quickly been established. Sadly Just a Band released a statement that said that they were not affiliated in any way to the two sites. The copyright ownership was in doubt until just a band released another statement claiming ownership of the Makmende character. A warning shot to anyone planning copyright infringement.

Makmende has currently gone global receiving recognition beyond Kenya. CNN’s Ron Riddell has been twitting about him and the online edition of the Wall street journal by Cassandra Vinograd. In Characteristic fashion, the local press only began covering the story only after the international recognition was given. The Daily Nation had a page three story on the phenomenon. KTN on the other hand interviewed the creators of the video on their Breakfast show.

This phenomenon has got those in the Advertising and Marketing circles excited and worried. Professional are trying to understand how the sensation delivered an audience of over 30,000 plus youth in a span of two weeks. Creatives in the agencies are either scared that their jobs might be at risk from the innovative youth like Just a Band. The other side of the coin is excited at the bondless possibilities of the new medium.

The dynamics of the youth market has changed, the youth dont read newspapers, dont watch Tv and dont read magazines (Unless they are at the Salon, or Doctors waiting room). One thing they however do is spend a lot of time on the Internet on their data enabled handsets. It appears that more youth are accessing the Internet via handsets rather than on PCs. The time they spend online is mostly on sites like Facebook and twitter. It shouldn’t then be lost to professionals interested in the Makmende phenomenon, the time for investing in Internet advertising and mobile applications.

If the Internet is the new play ground of the youth, wouldn’t it make sense to advertisers and marketers to try reach them there?

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