“We Are One Kenya: Representations of the Nation, Leadership & Identity on Reality TV”
Melissa Tully studies digital media technologies, international communication with a focus on media in developing countries, and philanthropy and nonprofit communication. Tully has conducted research in Kenya, Ghana, and Burundi. Generally, her research focuses on the use of digital media by a variety of actors in civil society. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Her presentation will focus on Uongozi, a massive multimodal civic education campaign in Kenya that culminated in the Uongozi reality television show. Tully’s analysis suggests that Uongozi framed and promoted a version of leadership that is tied to an idealized progressive, youth leader despite the lack of quality youth “candidates” on the show. The campaign also endorsed a message of national unity and identity, articulated through the promotion of a non-ethnic collective Kenyan identity. Uongozi contributed to a larger pre-election narrative promulgated through mass media efforts that encouraged Kenyans to move beyond ethnicity in their voting and participate in a peaceful election.