Saturday, 22 April 2017

Blankets and Wine: AKA, Fena, Nneka

I am just gonna creep right back like nothing ever happened. The elephant in the room is I've been gone for months on end, hopefully this post is among the first of many, maybe even a peace offering to myself and avid readers of this little space. You know just to make up for lost time.

Another quarter of the year, another edition of Blankets & Wine. Yet again I was riding solo and yet again I am glad to report, there is no regret in sight.

Let's come back down to the ground level and work our way up. Advertising of this edition of Blankets started in February and the cheapskate in me jumped on the opportunity to bag an early bird ticket. Life hack for you fellow frugal friend or broke collegiate, do not sleep on these early bird tickets.

I roll up to the venue, Ngong Racecourse Waterfront, after being searched twice within, I kid you not,  25 metres. I understand security measures, in fact, I respect them. But what can change within 25 m? Huh? Enlighten me. To give them the benefit of the doubt, it wasn't the usual KK Security and the newbies were may have just been trying to be eager beavers.

Usually, when you walk in there is this picnicky summer vibe. This time though, before y'all come at me, I know the weather was less than stellar but it was just tent after tent after tent and of course the Mama Rocks food truck which I think I speak for all of us when I say adds more life to any event. If my memory serves me right, food vendors and retailers are always around the perimeter,leaving room for you and me to roam the grounds distraction free and of course Homeboyz to do their thing stark in the middle of it all, conveniently on a raised platform. A little room is also left to appreciate the waterfront where instead there were... you guessed it, more tents.

On the aesthetic appeal level, it's going to be a no from me.

Anyway on to the reason why we all flock to Blankets; the live music. I think this was their most packed line up yet. Everybody and I mean everybody brought it, from the Supa Mega to the fresh faced Nu Nairobi lieutenants Kiwango and Muroe Music.

The opening act was Janice Iche looking like a 60's flower child complete with a flower crown and a flowy white dress., all systems were ready and set to go for festival season. When the band took it a few notches down meshing perfectly with her whispery voice that was the cherry on top of  it all.

To the guys who reminded me of youth as it should be, Kiwango and Muroe Music. They used every inch of that stage to define stage presence, foot-on-the-stage-speaker, rocker style, Muroe head banging, locs and all. Kiwango with this huge beaming smile on his face. These guys were born for that moment not to mention their interaction with the crowd which carried such a casual vibe with it I thought me and them, we go way back.

What was surreal was the actual ages of some of the live performers, I mean to be so young and perform so well; singing over a live band proved to be quite the challenge for some of the artistes, experienced or nah! However, Kahvinya and Ciano hands down,  they were the break out stars balancing out the live band with the perfect mix of just pure instrumentals and vocals. Somebody call Teen Vogue because I just found a couple of people who deserve to be on the 2017 annual fresh faces spread.

Then came a couple of familiar faces; Tetu Shani who in my most humble of opinions enjoyed most of the crowds love. His new single, Samalina, had people twirling and  parents dancing with their kids. It was such a less is more type of deal with a bit of humour and some throwback tunes. Here is a guy who needs to do a Tetu Live by the end of this year, Tetu, make this happen, take it as a shove in the right direction.

To round up the Kenyan line up were Prisca Ojwang followed by Trina Mungai who had us moving and grooving to Pale Pale a personal favourite.

Two weeks down the line and I am still giddy over the fact that I got to see Nneka live. Everything about her performance was thought through. She performed during golden hour and what is better than golden hour? Golden hour at the waterfront. She had us singing along to everything on her set list; Soul is Heavy, Restless, Shining Star but the one that topped it all of, My Love.

Wrapped in a blanket, acoustic guitar in hand it all felt so intimate despite the reported 2000 guests. From how she worked with the band, it was a no-brainer that she is a seasoned artiste; knowing how to jam her acoustic guitar to the electrics and her little hand signals to the band to either go all the way out or come all the way down. Precision to the very core.

Yup, you and me both were waiting for Hearbeat, it didn't happen but no hard feelings here...well kinda.

Y'all know I am all about the deejay's set during the breaks. This time one the 1's and 2's was Taio Tripper. The homie doesn't play. He had everything in there from late 60's early 70's Kenyan Rhumba to some trap soul, keeping everybody happy. He did have this annoying cock's crow sound bit playing between tracks, I get trying to be different from the sirens, the horns or the bountiful cliche self promos but imma pass on that one. The deejay from last time still has my heart or should I say my feet.

When Kenyan artistes are on an international platform, they step up to the plate. Fena was no exception; face beat, hair did, wardrobe changes, merch, surprise guest artistes. No doubt about it she came to represent.

First half was Kenyan throwback tunes Boomba Train, E-Sir, Necessary Noize the works. Second half was her chat toppers, Sema ng'we and of course the Skwaaaa with Kama Kawaida and Party Nation so naturally saucy Mayonde, boss lady MDQ, super producer Kagwe and the guy who takes no Ls, Blinky Bill were ready to put the LIT in lituation.

With a name like SUPA MEGA you really can't afford to be mediocre. Forget working with the built in band or DJ, it was all Rainbow Nation up there.

 His was an experience. He sprayed the audience with water, champagne and some more water, you've got to give the brutha credit for having insane aim, gave us a little of Poison by BBD, sang the chorus to Congratulate a dozen of times, All eyez on me, Baddest and even without his crew, Burna Boy and Da LES he still held it down. The crowd was feeling him on a whole other level and sprayed him in turn with vodka and he just stood there, arms wide open and took it. Let the spirit of champagne showers spread all around. And did I mention that the dude's got moves? Moves that I will forever compare to any other rapper who so much attempts to even do a two step, moves that went beyond pacing from one end of stage to the other, Big Sean's moves? Bigger. I went home a happy lass that day.

If you stayed for the mix by Suraj and Ukweli, drop your review down in the comment section below because a sistah had a long commute home.

Have a good one!  

Just a little rant though, press seriously need a little bit of decorum and so do security. I mean, I was at the very front and I had people blocking my view. One of the press guys even had the nerve to set up his equipment right in front of my field of view; I'm talking tripod and those huge bulky camcorders another guy stood on top of the barricade all in the name of getting the best angle. And where was security? I'm asking the same question.



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Surviving College: Semester In Review 3.1

Hello peeps,

I have been having a pretty swell couple of days, if I do say so myself. So, I figure why not use the high of positive vibes to write this post.

Realistically speaking we are 3 weeks into the new semester; third year of college, second semester. What y'all would call the last semester of junior year. So far, we are time barred, some classes just started this week or a week late, there is an ongoing lecturers' strike but, I will say, we have met nearly all our lecturers(literally going out  on a limb for us) and they mean business and I like that.

Let's back track a bit though, to last semester. Fam, it was rough. I only had three units, which I will admit I took for granted. I really want to pin the blame on someone. Something. Anyone? Anything!But, when it is all said and done, excuse me while I put my big girl pants on, it was all me.

Class attendance. Them Friday classes tho'. I know I can count on one hand how often I missed class on Friday but the impact was felt. Of course, I met the attendance threshold, in fact, surpassed it, but bruh! Missing one college class is a definite no-no especially with the bulk of the units that I have.It's a no-brainer, but I learnt that the hard way sad to say.

Work-school balance. There was no such thing, not even remotely, work won and I am disappointed in myself for that. I had one afternoon class which ate into 4 hours of work. I still had to meet my weekly hours regardless. Long story short, I would work 9 hours two days out of the week, leaving little or no time for all things school and school related. There I said it, I messed up. Of course I was tired, dog tired, hence the whole attendance 'thing'.

Time was of the essence and I think it was abused. I was not reading or studying enough, we have already established that. But nearly every week one class or another was cancelled, some topics, given that we were in a little crisis situation could have been covered in a single class which had us having classes to the  very last day more or less. I mean whatever happened to study leave? There was also this thing where each unit had at least two facilitators and coherence was not a thing, nearly every one of them on a different wavelength from the other. Welcome to public university, where being shortchanged is the order of the day.

Back to me though, exam season was in full swing when I realized that I do this really stupid thing, where I wait to master key concepts or actually familiarize myself with certain course material a few days to the exam. Often, a few days to finals, I am just a huge ball of throbbing nerves on legs; pulling all-nighters, cramming, minimal study breaks, bluntly put NOT 'A' material.

Improvements? For one, this semester, I plan to be attending every class. So far, not too bad, I missed one class last Friday since I had a  hunch that it would be cancelled and what do you know? It was! Punctuality will also have to make several guest appearances. Getting ahead on my lessons would also be the ultimate dream seeing how notes and course outlines have been graciously flooding my inbox. Study time's bar on the graph just has to increase.

My war paint is on, and I am ready for the assignments and study binge weekends. Hopefully it will be a different story in the next semester in review.

Have a good one!    

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

#Blog4Dev 2017

Hey guys,

Now, let me tell you, for me it has never been a walk in the park to write over topical issues especially essays. In primary school, way back in the day, our school director Mrs. Muhoro, would enter us into all manner of essay writing competitions especially the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition. We participated maybe 3,4 years in a row(my primary school class of 2008) and nearly every year someone or a couple of people from my class would either be 'commended' or 'highly commended', I on the other hand never did, go figure. Regardless, it made us, winners and 'losers' alike, up our vocab and story-telling skills. All of it surely paid off because one of my classmates is now an avid content developer for one of Kenya's natural hair brands and might I say, my hat naturally goes off to her because her blog posts and captions are straight fire.

Long story short, this is my way of keeping the fire burning. Ladies and gentlemen, my #Blog4Dev 2017 entry. (I am out here just beaming with joy because I actually mastered the guts to write it, Super proud!)

A sizeable percentage of the G.D.P in East Africa is attributed to agriculture, specifically, 32%. The African continent has one of the youngest demographics in the world, with East Africa boasting of 80% of the population being below the age of 35. Majority have caught the entrepreneurial bug as statistics reflect a greater majority would aspire to start their own business. Despite all the odds, less and less youth take the plunge into the world of agribusiness.
Within the Kenyan context, the majority of farmland is in rural Kenya. Farming is largely practised on ancestral land perceived to be the family heirloom. Access to it is often limited, especially to the succeeding generation. The young are thought to be reckless with a get rich quick mentality in tow; selling the land instead of tilling it is a common occurrence. The fear by the older generation is understandably rife .Their efforts to protect the land  have now slowly evolved to be, in plain sight, a denial of the right to access land.
White collar jobs have been glamorized casting blue collar jobs away. Agriculture to many, may  lack the sophistication other professions are famed to offer.
Kenyan rural agriculture seems to be stuck in time. Traditional farming methods for instance are still adhered to despite faster more efficient methods having been in existence.
It is important to acknowledge the role  the internet has played in attracting youth in far flung areas to agriculture. Information is constantly shared through social media channels; blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook, proving to be more than effective.
This innovation can be taken even a notch higher in unison with agricultural aide programmes such as Kenya’s Agri-Vijana loan targeting young people keen on undertaking agri-business,  more specifically, green house farming .
Creating an application that is a one-stop shop for all things agribusiness would be a sure industry changer. Alerts on outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases, would be shared, to those likely to be affected, precautions  issued with the relevant action plan to be taken against the infected. Handbook information would be shared out among first time farmers. A calendar with relevant dates that farmers would need to keep up with would also be a feature on the application.
Contemporary professions surrounding agriculture can also be developed. Whole new business concepts could be embraced or customised to suit the Kenyan nation. Take for instance the subscription food box; fresh fruit and vegetable delivered fresh from the farm on a weekly basis, with meal suggestions and portioned according to need. The hustle and bustle of going grocery shopping is gone, a time efficient approach, waste free and not to mention convenient.
Awe conferred to graduates who opt to put their degree on the back burner and instead delve into farm work should be a thing of the past. The rural urban migration conundrum to should follow suit as clearly the wealth eagerly sought after, the glamour and sophistication is the very earth we walk on. 
Have a good one!
P.S. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, 23 January 2017

My Network Article

This was the article I wrote for My Network a magazine pull out in the Daily Nation, they were looking for writers and the winner would get an internship and I guess the article published. They never got back to me, but hey it's still a piece, enjoy!

They weren’t kidding when they said the world is at your fingertips, in all its glory, beauty, and art.  Going to galleries is still in, no doubt, but to take it all in, it’s probably all right in front of you. On your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, basically on your timeline.

Add a little juice to your timeline by following @jebet.n. She unconventionally takes the selfie to a whole other level, going back to its roots, the self portrait. More than that, her portraits are brought to life; call her, Chief GIF, as she adds animation to an otherwise still portrait.

The flare does not stop there; she goes beyond stand alone art, incorporating body art to the subject before her lense, tinkers with somewhat dull backgrounds sometimes in the most subtle of ways or going all in on them.

There is something about her black and white images. Black and white in itself comes across as unfiltered, as ironic as it seems. Jebet Naava’s is no different but there is something more, something gripping.

A little bit of everything features on her page, even with her focus on portraits; scenery, of course captured on its best side, Nairobi CBD monuments as never before seen, light falling in all the right places and perhaps what she draws her inspiration, maybe drive from, quotes, poem excerpts, music taste ranging from, possible president of #NuNairobi, @josephkiwangoart to the very soulful, new sounds of @yellowlightmachine.

Her work is dynamic, unpredictable and beyond captivating. Almost as if you managed to score a ticket to one of the most exclusive gallery shows yet. Until then though, go ahead and get cultured the self expression that is her Instagram and you can even go beyond it and on to her Behance, Jebet Naava for exclusive content.
  All of the picture belong to the super talented Jebet Naava follow her on her Insta!

Saturday, 7 January 2017


So, today I turn 22. I honestly wanted to do a review of 2016; the music, the movies, the series, the blogs, Instagram accounts, the books, but the more I thought about it, the more daunting it became. The more daunting it became , the more I procrastinated...what's new?

That being said, and not knowing where I was going with this post, to know my music feels go onto my Youtube playlists, namely, Junior year 16/17. The first 25 videos have straight fire tunes that were on repeat, replay button broken and I even discovered the loop function, you get the point. The Majestic Casual playlist has 2016 tunes that will have you all up in your feelings. Summer Sixteen is another, but I will warn you that some of the tunes are a repeat from both  of the playlists, because you know, some hits are just timeless.

Chances are, I will hit replay on these playlists, and have just the right description behind these hits and or their respective artistes, but until then, read my lips when I say that those playlists are your best friend.

Let's make a major shift to my birthday. For the past few days, I have been feeling like a major disappointment to myself. The festive season was all that I ever needed and more; the classic combo of chill and family with just a dash of me-time. I purposed to write a couple of blog posts as earlier said, mainly to up the number of blog posts for the year to at least 17 instead of the measly 10 that appear on the side bar but even that did not pun out as intended.

The worst part however, was the realization in 2016 that my joy does not stem from money. To put it bluntly, I was way happier broke, living off of my parents but pursuing writing as if my life depended on it, as if it was already paying the bills. 2015, I had 50 posts, 2016 I had 10. Last year my mantra was ,'If  you are not happy about something, do something about it,' 2016, 'Everyday is a day closer to leaving'. Did I or didn't I make a 360?

Of  course something good came out of 2016; celebrating my first year of contractual employment, no matter how you look at it, that friends, is admirable consistency. Still keeping up with school co-curricular activities; K.M.U.N. A relative sense of financial stability; heck, I 'm even chipping in with some of the bills, able to treat the occasional friend or family to a treat or two, not forgetting myself in the spirit of giving. I fasted, for Lent, food, for the first time! Let me tell you it is no joke. Although my new found, rekindled, stronger than ever relationship with God blossomed and fizzled out in equal measure, there is simply no reward better than that of fasting.

Winning a writing competition for this poetic piece. I had not written poetry in years and to pour out my all into a piece from an episode of office bullying and have it garner such an unexpected result, do I serve a living God or what?

Completing legal attachment. Let me put this into perspective, I was juggling a job and an  internship which by the by, resulted in nothing but mostly good things on the internship evaluation form.

The last quarter of the year was just me rolling with the punches, but I still managed to churn out at least 10 articles around that time, which is better than none considering that was how it was looking in the middle of the year.

That being said, if you want to read into the main source of depression,I fortunately, ironically, documented that as well here. I will carry the memories with me into 2017 which is not a bad thing contrary to popular belief, believe it or not, nothing and nobody expects perfection from you. The moment you are comfortable with that realization, you will be gradually living for you, going beyond your comfort zone and living up to your own expectations, which is what I seek to be mastering at 22.

Happy New Year!