Why Boom! Na Wabi

Boom na Wabi
We had a lot of fun shooting these short episodes – and every time we completed filming an episode, we’d yell “BOOM!” and high five each other… Jesse Soleil, Creator and Director Boom Na Wabi

As we were beginning to plan our content strategy for launch, one thing we were painfully aware of was that we had not put any original, local content into the schedule. So, we thought about different strategies to create maximally impactful yet minimal cost content. We had this idea for “Learning Blocks”; an hour of dedicated programming each for Science, Math and Literacy. We thought about “wrapping” these blocks with related learning moments, to introduce and close out the hour. My long-time friend and colleague Kaburo Kobia stepped in to produce and co-create. Just like that, “Wraps” were born.


We’d recently met with the team at WhatsGood Studios here in Nairobi about a different potential project, and thought they’d make a great production partner for the Wraps. I wrote some test scripts. WhatsGood kicked off the casting process and we found some great talent. The first person on our casting list was a young woman with a lot of personality and a huge smile. She got a thumbs up from everyone to audition in person for the host role. I randomly searched Facebook profiles of our potential hosts and discovered our 15-year old looking candidate was actually the former Miss Universe Kenya!

Wabaiya Kariuki
Wabaiya Kariuki, Host of Boom Na Wabi!
We wrote 55 more scripts adding “general knowledge” to the scope, so we could introduce some social-emotional concepts, breathing, dancing, and art to the wraps. Wabaiya became Wabi and was a quick study – she quickly was able to not only grasp the concepts, but also deliver on the scripts and changes without even writing them down. WhatsGood built a virtual set, and we used their small in-house studio to deliver on what became a huge idea.
We had a lot of fun shooting these short episodes – and every time we had completed filming an episode, we’d yell “BOOM!” and high five each other… another episode in the can! We started to feel the flow and while it took longer to shoot some episodes than others, and some of the scripts we wrote for the first “season” didn’t make it, we did manage to pull off 44 episodes in 4 days of shooting.
Some of the big challenging moments:

1. Green screen

Realizing the green screen affected yellow and some other colors as well. We had to make a lot of adjustments for the virtual set idea.
2. Color mixing science experiments
Food coloring options in Kenya are not quite the same as in some other countries. Yellow looks more orange, and red looks less like red and more like rosé, which makes water-based color mixing really hard.
3. Finding a tiny jiko was harder than we expected!
4. Getting amended scripts into the teleprompter
The original scripts had direction written in, and so we had to practice and then remove the direction from the teleprompter scripts to get timing right.
5. Getting set up for overhead shots
Whats Good Studio used a GoPro for overhead shots and it took a little bit of time to get this right since a GoPro is actually an adventure camera.
Wabi mixing yellow and blue to make green
Mixing colors for an episode of 'Boom Na Wabi'
6. Music
When it came to music selection, we knew we wanted to emulate one of my favorite kids shows, Yo Gabba Gabba. We wanted something fun and contemporary that kids and their parents would enjoy.
7. Naming the Show
When it came time to name the show, we all felt like “Boom!” was a huge part of what we’d just created. And it occurred to us that Boom! Kids might just learn something from each episode. BOOM! na Wabi was named.

At the end of the day, it was a huge, successful team effort!

Huge shout outs to our entire team and looking forward to Season Two!

Jesse Soleil,

Co-Founder Akili Network Ltd,
Creator and Director of 'Boom Na Wabi'