A puppet is an inanimate object animated or manipulated by a puppeteer. It is used in
puppetry, which is a very ancient form of theatre. Puppetry by its nature is a flexible and
inventive medium and many puppet companies work with combinations of puppet forms
and incorporate real objects into their performances. They might, for example, incorporate
performing objects. The XYZ Show is a Kenyan puppet programme based on satirizes political
and social events. It’s produced at the Go down Art Center that was established in
The story of XYZ begins with Godfrey Mwampembwa a cartoonist, popularly known as Gado.
Gado used to work for the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper as a cartoonist since 1992 till
2015 and has worked with many other companies locally and internationally. His cartoons
are all subject from terrorism to aids to corruption.
In 2003 Gado visited a television set of puppets in France, and immediately he knew that a
puppet show could be a success in Kenya. In 2000, he sent Gerald Olewe a sculptor to France
to learn how to make the puppets. But Gerald noticed it would be very hard since the latex
used to make puppets was not available in Kenya. But this did not deter Gado from further
pursuing the idea. He visited various television stations explaining the project but no one
seemed to buy the idea. He managed to put up a team of puppeteers and in 2007 he had at
least something to showcase but it was still not clear to the media people.
Towards the end of 2007, Gado met Marie Mungai an experienced TV journalist from
France. He explained to her what he was up to and she immediately got what Gado was
“Towards the end of 2007 I met Marie who is now my business partner and co-producer.
Marie just got it, of all the people I had gone to, she is the only one who said this can be
done,” recalled Gado.
Gado and Marie formed Buni media to provide a platform for XYZ show. The whole of 2008
they sought for donors and sponsors to push their programme forward. Their breakthrough
came in 2009. They got the funds and their first season premiered. At the beginning, XYZ
satirized the political situation in Kenya. This was a hit locally considering the country had
experienced some ugly scenes during the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Kenyans had
gone through a lot of pain due to the political upheaval therefore a satire kind of work like
XYZ was much appreciated. “When you look at XYZ growth, YouTube rated it as one of the
most watched African content online and our key audiences are Kenyans and African abroad
meaning the stories are travelling far,” told Brian. With XYZ pulling the numbers, local
television stations sought for the programme.
“We were very straight in terms of how we want to work with broadcast because we would
retain editorial part which means we would control the content,” told Gado. Today, the
show has gone on ahead and incorporated other current social events. “We usually do eight
skits for the show that is social skits, political, adverts, interviews and a song,” told Lily- XYZ
Head writer. The company has employed over eighty employees from cartoonists,
puppeteers, voices artists and puppet makers. This has become a success because of the
freedom of expression in the country, something that is gagged in other African states.