Gen Ci — Generation Creativity and Innovation

In Nairobi on October 17, the MASK Prize Award Ceremony celebrated almost 2,000 entries received from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Seychelles

In Summary

• The Gen Cis change paradigms, provoke conventions, improve the world and generate new futures

Inside Out, mixed media painting
MASK PRIZE Inside Out, mixed media painting
Image: Charles Waweru, 24

MASK Prize creativity competition for young Africans has had another year of triumph. In Nairobi on October 17, its Award Ceremony celebrated almost 2,000 entries received from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Seychelles. Winners were awarded cash totalling Sh300,000, internships and other prizes in the presence of dignitaries and guests.

The Education ministry was represented by Nairobi county director of education Obiero Jarred, who praised MASK for its work supporting and promoting creativity in Kenya. MASK Patron, the Kenyan prominent broadcaster Jeff Koinange, hosted the event. He donated a prize: the winners went to see his impressive art collection housed in his residency in Nairobi. Turk Pipkin, founder of The Nobelity Project, came from the US to award the prizes. The Nobelity Project supports the prizes along with Rivers Foundation and Mabati Rolling Mills.

The schools that won the ‘School Category’ are St Andrew's School from Malawi, Arya School from Nairobi, and Anidan School from Lamu. The ‘15-25 Category’ was won by painters Eddy Ochieng, 26, and Charles Waweru, 24, photographer Margaret Ngigi, 22, architect Kigera Njau, 21, (images reproduced here), dancer Linus Okok, 22, and poet Nicole Saro, (visit Two Unilever internships were awarded to John Gift, 22, and Danielle Wijenje, 18, by the Unilever’s Heroes for Change director Elsie Wandera.


Technology advancing at a rate equivalent to millennia of change being compressed within a single lifespan brings great opportunities as well as challenges. Children starting school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. To adapt and succeed in this environment, young people need strong creativity — the source of powerful intellect, resilience and positive work ethics. They have to perform creative tasks, imagine new alternatives and mastermind breakthrough to solve problems of poverty, climate change, inequality and unemployment.

A new generation is emerging. They are the entrepreneurs who offer ‘good ideas’ to their communities, leaders who inspire action with the vision for change, professionals who achieve success with the ability to originate, and artistes who create new cultural heritage. This generation of young people, the “Gen Ci”, “Generation Creativity and Innovation”, is awakened by creativity and innovation for power, possibilities, enterprise, leadership and culture. The Gen Cis change paradigms, provoke conventions, improve the world and generate new futures. They are not the ‘danger’ to conformity and social obedience. They are the new ‘infrastructure’ necessary for our societies to function. The future depends on Gen Ci.

Those people who less creative will fail opportunities, lose advantage and stagnate. They will lack resourcefulness, confidence and self-esteem. The illiterate of 21st century, disoriented, they will be cut off from the future. “Survival in 21st century will be difficult, and without creativity, it is not possible,” said MASK supporter Dr Manu Chandaria. Leading business surveys agree: World Economic Forum, Confederation of British Industry and IMB say that ‘creativity is the key skill which workers will need by 2020’, is the “first and foremost” ability sought by employees, and the most important quality for leadership.

Education and self-education for creativity should be a priority as the new model for sustainable socio-economic development. There are millions of young people still to discover how the powerful skill of creativity can change their lives. Yet, current education systems fail to teach creativity, which results in 75 per cent of employers say they can’t recruit creative workforce that threatens organisations’ growth and even survival.

Creativity is visual thinking. Creative individuals generate ideas primarily with the help of their visual system. The brain forms mental images – the “flesh and blood” of creative thinking - and uses them for thought. Ideas are images. To generate ideas is to think in images prior to any kind of verbal or mathematical reasoning. Art being the homeground of visual thinking is the best way to teach creativity. There is an unyielding link between art and the ability to innovate. This understanding can have a profound effect on our education and therefore the future.


Alla Tkachuk, Founder of MASK, mobileartschoolinkenya,org. If you wish to donate to MASK please contact [email protected]