Last night I was having a discussion about the Samsung billboard at the KICC with some of my friends. Most of my friends were against the idea of having a billboard at the KICC. I tend to disagree. I don’t think that that Samsung billboard detracts from the KICC being what it is.
I have a problem with Kenyans who complain about the billboard yet when it was being constructed and they knew that it was a billboard they didn’t say anything. For the billboard to be erected proper channels had to be followed. The KICC is a parastatal so that means government approval to the top levels had to gotten. So for some government officials to later turn against the billboard smacks of hypocrisy.
A couple of years ago, Coca cola Kenya wanted to refurbish the Nyayo stadium, and bring it up to international standards. They had signed a contract for a couple of years and all they wanted was for the duration of the contract for the stadium to be called the Coca Cola stadium. After protests from some Kenyans the ministry of sports cancelled the contract. The stadium has since then not gotten funds to make it better. To be honest the place is falling apart.
Kenya is heading towards a place where there are no sacred cows and no sacred parastatals. In the news in the last week we have seen that the government is keen on merging parastatals and dissolving some non performing parastatals. In this digital age prostates should be able to make their own money. The management of KICC was only trying to make their building pay for itself.
The KICC may be a parastatal and a national monument but the inside isn’t what it should be. Does it make sense for the KICC to look good from the outside for the outside world to see yet the inside isn’t what it should be? The Samsung deal was a good idea from both sides, Samsung got to advertise their brand, and the KICC got to get money that would allow them to run.
As a government parastatal the government should be having their seminars and conferences at the KICC. Why do they keep going to Safari Park or other hotels yet they cannot use their public resource? This makes it hard for the KICC to run as a going concern. The government has double speak, it says that it will support its own but it doesn’t do so. How many times has the government told civil servants that they must only travel with the national carrier Kenya Airways? Yet civil servants travel with other airlines!
Would people have the same moral opinion if the advert was for a Kenyan company or is the fuss because it is a Korean company? If you are not supporting the KICC by having corporate functions there then you are part of the problem. According to me, Samsung spotted a great opportunity to make their brand more visible and they took it. KICC management saw a chance to make some money to allow the parastatal to run and they took it. We live in a capitalist society of willing buyer, willing seller and that was what the transaction was.
We cannot talk about national pride and national monuments when we are not taking care of them. That is my opinion. I think the Samsung billboard should stay, the KICC management made a deal with the knowledge of appropriate government officials and now they should honour their deal.
PS. Did you know the Eiffel Tower was once a billboard for 9 years. Yes it was. Read the story here.