- Please introduce yourself briefly – who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mulure Mike, popularly known as Mykal Black. I am a filmmaker, a musician, a mentor, and above all I am a social entrepreneur. I am the founder of and director of Blackboy Media Lab and also DOx Nairobi.
- Why is youth unemployment and empowering young people important to you?
The biggest challenge facing youth in Kenya today is unemployment.The high rate of unemployment has led to an influx of vices like crime, drug & substance abuse, prostitution, early & unwanted pregnancies and increased cases of mental illness. A sustainable solution is needed in order to reverse these trends.
Empowering other young people is very important to me because I am a product of the same. I found myself in the film industry because someone held my hands at a point where I was hopeless and was seeing crime as the only way out of suffering. Ever since I got into film and TV I have met very many opportunities for both work and network and I always believe that if we create a safe space where young people can revive their dreams, then we might just rescue a whole generation.
The media, arts, tech and entertainment offers a unique opportunity for economic empowerment for our young people. The digital and online space has also opened up with the increased uptake of internet and streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon among others that have created a market for media content creators. The youth have the capacity to play leading roles in the country’s economic transformation if equipped with the right skills that will allow them to seek and also create opportunities
- What is the situation like in Kenya regarding youth unemployment and how do you approach the topic in your work?
Kenya’s population is 49.7 million as per the last census in 2009. The same census also indicated that Kenya’s population-age structure is youthful because the population of children below the age of 15 years was 43 percent, way above the cut-off limit of 35 percent. That group is about 10 years older today, This was corroborated by the fact that those aged below 35 years constitute 78 percent of the country’s total population. The UN estimates the country’s unemployed youth population is about 55%.
At Blackboy Media Lab, we run various training and mentorship programs to harness the energy, creativity and talent of young people to create social change through media, arts, tech and entertainment, to build a sustainable future. We strive to build the capacity of young people, especially those coming from challenged backgrounds and slum areas to take up opportunities available in the creative industry.
Our Vision is to realize resilient youthful communities empowered to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity.
- Are there successes or specific rewarding moments that keep you going in that work?
The journey to where I am now is already rewarding and fulfilling, just being able to build a community of hardworking and forward thinking youth with hope for a better future makes the nights peaceful.
Over the last five years, we have trained and mentored 43 young people in media and arts for free, who are now pursuing their passions. We have won six journalism awards out of nine nominations and have also managed to build curriculums and training material for our programs.
Being able to see youth who were in crime, and some who were suicidal due to frustrations of life. Being able to wake up in the morning and excited to take on the day is the most beautiful reward I get from doing what we do. We have built an ecosystem of young people who are keen on self-growth.