Kana: To See Or Not To See?


Kana Tv is the new addictive coolade in town, and everyone can’t stop drinking.

There is a lot of discussion on this very subject. The social media is usually blazing with a fire of criticism or praise. From those that support it to those that think it is damaging- and at the far end of the spectrum, to those few that think it is a small piece of a big conspiracy theory, everyone has a lot to say. This is my own take. It is somehow an attempt to harmonize the two most popular views on the matter. Kana is not a savior of the Ethiopian entertainment industry. Kana is not an instrument of the Illuminati to control the Ethiopian public. The situation is neither black nor white. It is grey.

It is rare to witness a tectonic shift of… well… anything. Usually, when change happens, it happens in small amounts, accumulating over time to become something worth noticing. It is a rather progressive, slow and mostly a painstakingly time taking process. That is not always the case, though. Change sometimes gets an adrenaline injection. Einstein’s theory of relativity was the tectonic shift of the physics world. “Gangnam Style” was the tectonic shift of the Korean music industry, at least when it comes to being international. Here in Ethiopia too, we have been very lucky to witness such an event.

We have witnessed a total tectonic shift of the entertainment industry by the emergence of Kana TV.

People have varying opinions when it comes to Kana, and they are not the least bit afraid to publicly voice them. Some say that it is a savior of sorts that serves as a sizzling shock to awake the rather monotonous film industry. Such people are driven to such a conclusion because they have been tired of the endless dose of lame romantic comedies, which, by the way, look as if they operate from the same “romantic comedy plot book”. To such people, change-ANY change- is welcome. On the other hand, the contenders say that Kana is the worst thing that could have happened to Ethiopia (mind you, not the Ethiopian film industry, but Ethiopia.) They allude to some sort of patriotic love to justify their position. They call it “covert colonialism” of the mind, and that it must be avoided or destroyed at all costs. These are the two most popular views on each side of the “Vs” sign. These are the black and white.

Here is the grey area.

Kana is both a welcomed change and an unwelcome one. It is a welcomed change because our film industry is really one monotonous snore. To be honest, there is a fetish like addiction to the romantic comedy genre. It is known that, for a film industry, to stick to one genre is very much a fail proof way to keep progress at bay. To make matters worse, it doesn’t help the fact that film-makers make a minimum attempt to variegate the industry with anything else. You can’t feed your pet the same thing and complain if it abandons you when a much better alternative arrives.

The Ethiopian public deserves the best, and that hasn’t been provided. It is not from lack of ideas or budgets either, and everyone knows it. It is mainly because the industry has become something anyone can delve into, granted that they have more than a hundred thousand birr. It has become a quick gateway to riches and fame. The public has been consuming the endless dose just because anything that is remotely biased to “entertainment” must be welcomed because a mind devoid of variation is prone to depression, especially amidst tension and so much bad news. Kana is a welcomed change because it saves us from the constant cycle we are on: feeding upon something that is unwelcome, but must be consumed for the sake of sanity.

To be fair to the other side, Kana is an unwelcome change too. For one, despite providing quality entertainment, it has also crippled those rare film makers that try to break the norm and achieve something great. The ancient Ethiopian saying that says “That which comes for the sinful will also fall upon the saints” seems fitting here. Secondly, the very quick addiction of many has hindered them from doing work, especially at night. It is also not rare to find cases of family fights because children refuse to obey their parents for the sole reason that they might miss a good scene.

What do we make of this then? Well, perhaps Kana is a necessary evil. Just like anything, it has its own side-effects. The better option is not to petition Kana to close. Ethiopian film-makers must take the crippling as penance for the years of “force-feeding” they have done to the public in the name of entertainment. Once that is done, just like anyone that has sustained an injury, they must take therapy. They must brainstorm. They must write. They must produce something that has the force to divert the public’s eyes from Kana. Then and only then can they make a difference.

The film industry isn’t dead yet, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.