The event was opened by Norwegian Ambassador, Mr Victor Rønneberg. The Norwegian Director, Mr Håvard Holme, addressed the audience and was followed by an amazing performance by the Billian Music Family, the key characters in the movie.
The award-winning documentary ‘WE ARE THE NATION’ has the Kenyan musician Billian Okoth in the lead role. The stage is set in Mathare, Nairobi, where Billian decides to make a difference for the children of the slum by building a better future for themselves – through music. He aims not at making them celebrities, but new leaders of Kenya. Please see the attached poster and synopsis below for further information.
As an introduction, the Danish short film ‘ELECTION NIGHT’ was also screened. On election night, we meet Peter, an idealistic young man, who suddenly discovers he has forgotten to vote. On his way to the polling station, he encounters a variety of taxi drivers, all with strong political views, and Peter has to decide whether to stand up for his convictions or get to the polls on time.
A new reality dawned on Kenya after the nightmare of 2008. The Post-Election Violence left thousands orphaned and countless Kenyans with terrible memories. 20-year-old rapper Billian Okoth also lost his parents at a young age. He knew what uncertain and dangerous times the children in the slum of Mathare would face. Billian heeded the call, and decided to help them build a future for themselves - using music. But he is not aiming to make celebrities. He wants to make leaders. Together they rap about their brutal lives, sharing a dream of an education and a better tomorrow.
But as Billian faces defeats and setbacks in his project, he decides to take a harsh decision: To go into politics. Into a political system that is among the most corrupt in the world. What will he gain? And what will the price for the achievements be?
With the charming, hard working and talented kids of Billian Music Family and their strong leader Billian, “We Are The Nation” gives a compelling story and a rare glimpse into one of the world’s biggest slums.
Håvard Holme was born on November 12, 1985 in Bergen, Norway. He has a master in Documentary and Journalism from Volda University College. From 2010 to 2011 he worked as a delegate for Peace Corps Norway in the Mathare slum, where he got to know the rappers of Billian Music Family. We Are The Nation is Håvard's first film after film school.
Have you ever met ten year olds who ask each other what they want to become IF they grow up? I have. And their obvious answer was “RAPPER”.
We Are The Nation tells the story about Billian Music Family – a group of rapping children in Mathare, one of the largest and most dangerous slums in the world.
Mathare may be regarded as a hotbed of terror, laziness and corruption. At the other hand this group is proving it to be a hotbed of hope. Using music as a tool, the children fight to escape a life of crime and poverty, facing obstacles you and I could never imagine.
“We are the nation, we need attention, education, protection, to heal the nation” is the chorus in one of their songs. These are powerful words from youngsters who do all their best to become the new leaders of Kenya. - A nation thoroughly permeated by corruption from top to bottom. - A nation where large numbers of boys and girls never get the chance to finish school and be educated - A nation with conflicts between tribes. And between “the haves” and “the have nots”.
During my one year work as a norwegian peace corps delegate in this nation, I experienced that people of higher classes tend to ignore the slum dwellers and blame them for their own mess – regarding them as sloppy and stupid people who doesn’t stand up for themselves.
That impression for sure is unfair for most of the people I met in Mathare. We Are The Nation is made to show the true face of Mathare, through the story about the hard working and high hoping youth in Billian Music Family.
The main character and strong leader, Billian, does all he can for the group to succeed. When even a man with such good intentions feels compelled to make corrupt actions, something is terribly rotten in the land of Kenya.
Billian Music Family is already reaching some of their goals. But even if they should fail in doing so, I want to witness and show their wholehearted attempt to fight their destiny. I want to give them the attention they claim and deserve, so that they can inspire others to keep on fighting and overcome their struggles.
- Written by Håvard Holme