In 2001, British filmmaker the late Polly Renton asked the US-based Ford Foundation to sponsor a one-off television training project in Kenya. The idea sprung from the fact that at the time, Kenyan television was made-up of partial local news broadcasts and cheap foreign imports – soap operas and re-runs of old sitcoms and chat shows. She felt Kenyans deserved local programming about their own lives, done in a way that gave them a democratic say in the running of their country.
Ms Renton proposed spending a year training a group of young Kenyans on how to become ethical television reporters, producers, editors, sound and camerapersons, and also help them make a series of ‘factual magazine shows’ about Kenya for Kenyan viewers. The Ford Foundation funded this initiative and helped by Vivid Features – a local production company, 15 trainees underwent training in programme-making. This led to the birth of Media Development in Africa (MEDEVA) in 2001. So far, over 300 young people in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have been trained for free in various aspects of TV and Radio production with MEDEVA becoming an established name in independent media productions in East Africa with over three hundred hours on air during prime time.