Pype “Fathers, Patrons and Clients in Kinshasa’s Media World”

Pype, Katrien.  Fathers, Patrons and Clients in Kinshasa’s Media World: Social and Economic Dynamics in the Production of Television Drama.  In Working in the Global Film Industries: Creativity, Systems, Space, Patronage.  Bloomsbury Academic.  Pp. 123-141.
Abstract: This chapter attempts to tackle the social and economic structures that define the production and outlook of television serials in Kinshasa. Since 1996, Kinshasa’s mediascape has witnessed a significant transformation. In that year, President Mobutu ordained a freedom of press, which led many wealthy individuals (politicians, entrepreneurs and religious, especially Christian, leaders) to set up their own television channels. With the proliferation of television stations, the production of local television drama increased. Totally in line with the charismatization of Kinshasa’s society, the post-Mobutu teleserials are immersed within the ideology of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity. The most popular television serials are those that visualize a spiritual battle between God and the Devil. Many of Kinshasa’s drama groups are also affiliated with Pentecostal-charismatic churches. This not only influences the storylines, but it also shapes the social organization of the television acting groups.
The main questions addressed are: how are the television actors positioned within the hierarchies of the television station and the church? And, how do television actors make a livelihood out of appearing on the small screen? The analysis will focus on the diverging forms of patronage and clientelism that are at play among (1) the actors and between actors, (2) the drama group and the heads of television channels, (3) the dramatic artists and the pastors, and (4) the actors and the powerful (“Big Men”) in Kinshasa. It will be argued that Kinshasa’s dramatic artists occupy diverging positions within the patron-client axis, which offer them not only power and authority, but which also allow these professional artists to earn a livelihood. These relationships thus bear an economic significance in Kinshasa’s precarious society.