I am always reminded of how ignorant I am when I watch the athletes fly their national flags at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. They walk with so much pride sure that we all know who they are and where they are from. I smile with pride whenever I see the celebrity nations like Great Britain, United States, Japan, Jamaica and other nations closer to my own like Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Whenever someone adorns the national flag, its symbols and/ or colours, they evoke pride in the patriots, curiosity to the ingnorant onlooker and mixed emotions to the friends and enemies of the State. The football fan, the athlete, the traveler, army officer and/ or protester all create a platform for the people around him to make inquiries, pass on the good, bad and ugly things about a nation and its people.
The sum total of these perceptions evoke positive or negative emotions towards the individual and/ or the nation he is representing. This in many ways contribute to the national brand contrary to what people say. Think about words that jump into your mind when you walk into a space and it occupied by a Jamaican, Nigerian, French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese or Kenyan?
The trigger of this piece was my reflection on the images on the internet and the local dailies of Kenyan leaders and their followers in the Netherlands dressed in prominent national flag colours, ready to send a message to the International Criminal Court (ICC). I am concerned about the many hundreds of domestic and foreign onlookers and viewers across the globe who stumbled on the strange flag like I do when I watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. What was the sum total of perception after they got know the country and the reasons for the protests on foreign soil.
There is a team set up by the Kenya government to manage the country brand domestically and internationally. I curious what they have to say about this and to give us a guide going forward on what we can do as a nation to enjoy a favourable Kenyan country brand
Photo courtesy of wakilishi.com