There are many ways you probably know about Donald J. Trump. Businessman. Celebrity. Media personality. President. Gaming?
But this article is not about Trump, although it is about Trump—at least as envisioned by Evans Kiragu, the founder and CEO of Mekan Games. The name is a corruption of “me can”, which is in itself a corruption of I can. He, Kiragu, says this is the motivation they need to rouse each other to work. “Mimi Naweza,” he says. Me, I can.
And he can. In July 2022, Evans’ game, ‘The President’, loosely based on a fictionalised Donald Trump, was inspired by the former US leader’s ever-present role in public discourse, Kiragu said in an interview. “We decided to zone in on the humour—it is about being a powerful president but making silly, hilarious decisions as you go,” he said. “It worked like magic.”
Indeed, it did. The game topped the US charts and made Mekan about $1 million in revenue, enough to keep the company afloat for three years. Kiragu and his team designed the game at the 2021 training course in Cape Town, co-hosted by South African publishing startup Carry1st and CrazyLabs—a global leader with over 4 billion downloads. Africa, for context, accounts for just one percent of the $100 billion global industry.
"Evans' narrative arch is that of a typical hero: he was exposed to computers at an early age, grew up playing games and tinkering with electronics every chance he got."
This was not when, however, he was born into the stage. But it was when he was christened. Before the training session, Evans had created at least 80 mobile titles. He made his first game, a first-person shooter zombie apocalypse flick, on a whim. In 2016, he released ‘Craving Carrots’, a 2D game that involves preventing ninjas, using a combination of weapons and booby traps, from acquiring carrots that can give them superhuman strength and thus enable them to overrun the world.
Evans’ narrative arch is that of a typical hero: he was exposed to computers at an early age, grew up playing games and tinkering with electronics every chance he got. He says he always fixed everything he broke, which is to say everything he touched. He later went on to do a short course in application development for Android and Nokia phones. By the time he was enrolling for a computer science degree at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), he was a star turning into a supernova, all exploding at once. He later attended the University of Cambridge to pursue Organizational Leadership and was in the Leading Change programme developed for the winners of the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme by the Institute of Continuing Education at the institution.
“I love to undertake side projects to further my skills. I am also a big fan of undertaking new tasks that will challenge me. At the moment, I am venturing into online multiplayer games, and I love it so far. I am also a certified Windows Phone app developer.”
The President, it seems, was just a coda to a glittering nascent career. And though much has been taken, much still abides. To have the products of his mind explored by people far and wide is, for him, the greatest reward for his long labours. That is what keeps him going. His superpower. In other words, his, well, trump card.