Configuration of Kenya’s Children’s Television Drama
Children’s film is an artistic genre in its own right with its distinctive character and utility in the society. Machachari is a local television drama that is centred on children. This episodic film, while revolving around slum children and their hustles and survival jaunts in the hard-edged lives of their surroundings, juxtaposes the ghetto children with their well-to-do friends. Just one year since this sitcom was first aired on a Kenyan Television station, Machachari recently won three awards: it was voted “Kenya’s Teenagers’ TV drama Soap of choice”. The TV drama also won “New Show Award” and one of the characters won the “Male Actor Award”. In the Kalasha awards held in September 2011, the equivalent of a Kenyan Oscar, one of the child characters, Baha, won the best actor award. In cognizance of the popularity of this sitcom and in appreciation of its palpable foregrounding of child characters, this study interrogates this very popular sitcom with a view to establishing whether the presentation of the child character with regard to behaviour patterns and theme conforms to true childhood as affirmed by three psychological theorists: cognitively, as prescribed by Jean Piaget; emotionally as outlined by Erik Erikson and lastly, whether the child characters’ conduct is the product of interactive influences, both congenital and experiential as delineated by Robert Sears. Discourse analysis is also employed to determine the communicative import of the utterances of the child characters while appraising their plausibility in illuminating particularities of children’s mental processes and personalities within their milieu.