Growing up, going to the cinema was once in a blue moon affair for our family, on television there were shows unsuitable for children and most movies were broadcasted late in the night when most children were asleep. The only chance I got to see movies with friends was at school where we had one catholic priest called Father Richard, bring us free movies. Sometimes other people brought movies but we had to pay KES 5 (around 0.05 Euros) at the time, to access the movie theatre that was in our school hall. Sometimes we would go watch mobile cinemas that were brought to the village by missionaries, mostly during Christian festive seasons like Easter and Christmas. But mostly we would sneak into some iron sheet “cinema” near home where they offered all the action movies especially by Bruce Lee, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwaznigger. These were the best and to make matters even better, they had a commentator who explained to us exactly what was happening as we watched!
Today, children as well as adults are spoilt for choice when it comes to movies, most of them can access televisions which have different channels hence one can choose the movies to watch. Some can afford to go to cinemas while others can buy movies in DVD’s and watch them in the comfort of their homes. Still there mobile cinemas available, but best of all, the iron sheet cinemas still exist and continue to grow! The DVD selling business has also increased in most towns in East Africa. Sometimes the latest movies hit the iron sheet cinemas and are sold in DVD’s before they even premier in the main theatres, which is why people like them. The DVD selling business has created business opportunities for the youth (Though there are many who view this as wrong due to copyright infringement. Yet the majority believe the poor also deserve to enjoy the best at a cost they can afford).
On MYC4 we have people in this line of business, businessmen who bring entertainment to many homes. These businesses are usually stationed in almost every corner; from the town centre to the various neighbourhood, to the villages. One such business man is Modest Raban Sichone on the platform. He has been in this business for the last three years and the business has enable him cater for his family and has also improved his lifestyle. A business always does better with availability of customers, hence the reason he started the business, because he saw the need for DVD’s in his locality. When I asked one of the business men selling DVD in my neighbourhood why people visit his business he had this to say;
“It’s cheaper, while others are paying up to KES 1000 to watch a movie others are watching the same movies for only KES 100 or 50 in the comfort of their homes or in the iron sheet cinemas. If it was your choice, what would you choose?”
This however doesn’t come without challenges. There are low and high peak season, the competition is very steep especially from people with similar business and have DVD burning equipment. One also has to make sure they have the latest and most popular movies to survive, because when dealing with young people, as is the case for most of these businessmen one has to be diverse and have the current movies. Next time you visit East Africa and would like to see a movie, remember that you have a choice!