Kenya’s best bloggers in 2016 awarded in swanky ceremony 

Dr Wandia Njoya with Aisha Ali

Dr Wandia Njoya with Aisha Ali

The best bloggers in Kenya was awarded in a ceremony at the Radisson Blu in Upper Hill, Nairobi on Saturday evening.

It was a full house as bloggers and their families and friends converged at the newest five star hostel in town to see who would emerge the best amongst them in the different categories. The evening where everyone was dressed in African wear (it’s a style) saw the who’s who of the Kenyan blogosphere mill around before the ceremony started on time.

The trophies were handed out to the various categories with the winners going home with trinkets like the Galaxy A5 Phone, Intel Laptop bag, Samsung Gear VR and Mettā membership, Dinner for two at Tatu Restaurant at Fairmont, the Norfolk, two round trip tickets to Mombasa on Jambo Jet, Huawei GR5 Phone, and Samsung Gear VR. They also received large amounts of Safaricom credit.

At the end of the evening, the best blog in Kenya went to Biko Zulu with an overwhelming win over Owaahh, Lyra Aoko, and Techweez. This is not the first time for the popular Biko to go home with the best award as he has been winning the creative category award since the awards were started.

The full list of winners is;

  1. Best Technology Blog –
  2. Best Photography Blog –
  3. Best Creative Writing Blog –
  4. Best Business Blog –
  5. Best Food Blog –
  6. Best Environmental/Agricultural Blog –
  7. Best Fashion/Beauty/Hair/Style Blog –
  8. Best Politics Blog –
  9. Best New Blog –
  10. Best Corporate Blog –
  11. Best Topical Blog –
  12. Best Sports Blog –
  13. Best Entertainment/Lifestyle Blog –
  14. Best Education Blog –
  15. Best Travel Blog –
  16. Best Health Blog –
  17. Best County Blog –
  18. Best Religious or Spirituality Blog –
  19. Kenyan Blog of the Year –


Social Media and Journalism discussed by media practitioners at #SomaConnect

Joseph Bonyo, James Murua, Tim Njiru, Denis Itumbi, Philip Mwaniki and Ezekiel Mutua.

Joseph Bonyo, James Murua, Tim Njiru, Denis Itumbi, Philip Mwaniki and Ezekiel Mutua.

Social media and journalism was discussed by media practitioners at the Soma Connect event at the Nailab at the Bishop Maigua Gardens in Nairobi on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Soma Connect is a monthly event where Social media and its effects on different aspects of Kenyan life professional or otherwise is discussed every month. The event, which happens on the second Wednesday of every month, has discussed various topics in the past; last month for instance the discussion was in Social Media for development with speakers like Zawadi Nyong’o and Philip Ogola.

This month, the topic on the table would be Social Media and Journalism and the headline panelists were Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua, Office of the President’s Director of Digital Dennis Itumbi and Nation Media Group’s NTV business editor Wallace Kantai. They would be supported by Citizen TV news editor Joseph Bonyo, Nation Newspaper’s Philip Mwaniki and blogger James Murua. They would all be moderated by TV presenter Tim Njiru.

It was designed to be in two phases. The first phase in the evening started with Itumbi, Mutua and Kantai moderated by Tim Njiru (the moderator is one of those guys you call with both names). Kantai would be leaving soon as he had a bulletin to worry about but he still gave his contribution. His presentation spoke about his concern as to whether he will still be useful as a journalist where everyone is a content creator with their phones. Itumbi on his part spoke about journalism and how it has changes since he was first a journalist and when he left first as a freelancer and eventually to government.

Finally Mutua who is the most spoken about government employee in recent times with his role at the Kenya film and classification board. His was an explanation of the role of the organisation that he currently led as well as how they are working.

It was a great discussion that we were enjoying with Itumbi revealing that he would earn peanuts, not actual peanuts, of around 20k a month with Baraka FM before working with Voice of America where his fortunes changed. This was because he had a decent salary with the American firm whilst doing extremely lucrative freelance work with a South African firm. This led him to believe that the age of social media might actually more of a boon than journalists want to imagine as the market for their content as it is more valuable. It was instructive for any journo who wanted to leave the madness of a newsroom, its pressure and the pay that could be better.

The second phase of the discussions saw Wallace Kantai leave to do his interview therefore Mutua and Itumbi were joined on the stage by Bonyo, Mwaniki and Murua. Bonyo explained how in the broadcasting business had being changed by social media. Today Royal Media has set up a system that mined data from the field using social media unlike in the past where bulletins were decided in morning editorial meetings. The system has become more fluid to ensure that they aren’t missing stories. They have also focused on Day 2 journalism which involves more analysis which is why you will see more “talking heads” in the evening telling you what you might have missed.

It was a full house.

It was a full house.

Mwaniki explained how in spite of the announcement of doom of print newspapers because of the Internet and specifically social media the genre still has life. This especially applies where verifying of news stories and day 2 journalism is concerned. On his part Murua explained how Social media has changed the business of blogging as social media now helps the blogger in various ways. The social media is content for the blogger as well as being a way to promote one’s content. One can also sell content that is on their social media channels.

With the panelists having finished their presentations, the chats with the audience started and they were robust. A great evening was had by all.

See y’all next month folks.

Martin Muli

Martin Muli

Our event emcee

Our event emcee

Manu Dibango rocks Nairobi at #KorogaFestival

Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango was the headline act at this month’s edition of the Koroga Festival hosted at the Arboretum Grounds on Sunday 8th May 2016.

I’m a huge fan of the Koroga Festival which is hosted on the first Sunday of every second month in Nairobi. The organisers usually fly in an international music act from another African country to perform alongside well known Kenyan acts. I have been to quite a few and even blogged my experience about the live music event when singers like Simphiwe Dana and Oliver Mtukudzi gave us music one will rarely hear played live in Nairobi.

This Sunday, the headline act was set to be Manu Dibango the Cameroonian musician who has been performing to sellout audiences all over the world for over half a century. This is a man whose song Soul Makossa was so big that Michael Jackson famously paraphrased it in the recurring phrase “ma-ma say, ma-ma sa, ma ma-coo-sa” at the end of his 1982 release “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

In his career, Dibango has worked with everyone in the business you can imagine and the list is diverse. They include pianist Herbie Hancock (USA), trumpeter Hugh Masekela (South African), Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), King Sunny Ade (Nigeria), Salif Keita (Mali), Angélique Kidjo (Benin), Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa) and a hell of a lot more. If there was a serious artist, this guy has worked with them.

The day of the concert was very cool. The night before had been a wet affair so concert goers were advised to go with closed shoes and some warm clothing. So we all walk into the venue, get tagged and there are X-News newspaper being handed out to concert goers aggressively. What was that about I wondered?

We all walked in and got to enjoy the two aspects of the Koroga Festival as all acknowledge; the social and the music side. On the social side, I was catching up with a helluva lot of people who I hadn’t seen in yonks. I have to admit that this is one of the spaces where you meet folks in an open and convivial environment as you partake of drinks and snacks with family.

The music side of the evening was even better. We were wowed by singing by June Gachui and saxophoning by Parseen Edward who were joined on stage by the ever popular Kaz. I knew that Maurice Kirya the Ugandan singer was around when the ladies I was chatting to suddenly up and left me at a table alone looking like a dummy. I’m looking at you and your crew, Njeri.

The highlight of the show was Manu Dibango of course. Here was the 82 year old singer with his multicultural band as they blasted hit after hit new and old. The audience was a bit of a Nairobi audience, they know the name and want to see him live but they didn’t know his songs. They weren’t his true fans but those who loved him joined those who were here for the ambience and had an epic afternoon.

Who’s next team Koroga? All photos used in this post are courtesy of the team at Koroga. Thank you.

June Gachui

June Gachui

Parseen Edward

Parseen Edward

Maurice Kirya

Maurice Kirya


Manu Dibango: The main reason I’ll be attending Koroga Festival


Manu Dibango is an icon where the African music scene is concerned and he will be performing in Nairobi on Sunday at the Koroga Festival. He won’t be performing alone. His supporting acts will include Maurice Kiyra, June Gachuhi and Different Faces which is fronted by saxophone genius Edward Parseen. While I love these performers and would happily go to a concert just with them, the headline act is something very different. He is Manu Dibango.

Manu Dibango is a very special person in my human experience. He was really big in Kenya with his hit song Goro City which was played a helluva lot over the 1980s. It was even sneakily used as a soundtrack for a TV that for some reason I cannot remember. The song reminds me of a conflicting time for the nation It was the period when people suffered with their space as a paranoid president Moi ensured his authority was felt.

At the time as I was a child becoming a teen, I was fervently passionately nationlist; I was one of the many who were under the Nyayo spell. We would happily share what the president did on the playground. He was the guy who carried the biggest boulder as they build gabions to prevent social erosion; whose dad could lift a bigger one. He was the guy who drove that Nyayo Pioneer car around Nyayo stadium; whose dad could drive it the fastest.

Apart from the huge cult of personality around the man from Sacho, it was a time when music from all over the continent was rocking the city I grew up in. Mory Kante’s Yeke Yeke blared from vehicles and matatus. Radios would be hear blasting Sam Fan Thomas’ Noa. Fela Kuti’s Lady was rocking it still almost a decade on. This was the period Goro City was making its mark and I wouldn’t mind hearing it live. It would be a great time to remember the time of my youth; when I was still young and idealistic.

If this period comes back through song, the trip to Arboretum with the threat of rain would have been totally worth it. See you on Sunday people.

Advance tickets only. Get yours here.

Kenya Photography Awards 2016 launch

KPA Call for entries Poster (2)Photographers Association of Kenya (PAK) jointly with PAWA 254 have today launched the 2016 Kenya Photography Awards.

Now in its third year, the awards will see photographers submit their photos on the Kenya Photography Awards website between March 24th, 2016 to April 30th, 2016 under 8 different categories.

The categories are: News, Sports, Nature, Daily Life, Creative, Portraiture, Most Promising Young Photographer and People’s Choice.

The awards seek to recognize skill, talent and hard work among professionals and rising photographers in the country.

“We are glad indeed to be launching this edition of the awards this year. So far, we have seen significant growth in the photography industry in the country through collaborative efforts from various partners. There is a lot we need to do to bolster the sector. The awards will go a long way to ensure that we not only appreciate photography as an art but also support and motivate young and upcoming photographers to pursue excellence in this trade,” noted Stephen Nderitu, Chairperson, Photographer’s Association of Kenya.

He added: “I would like to encourage all photographers to come all out and share their best photos under the various categories and together let us celebrate talent.”

On his part, chief judge, Gary Knight, noted: “Last year, we got some really impressive shots and so this year, we will be looking for much more. We encourage all photographers – young and old to participate in this contest and let us see more and more amazing photos this year.”

Below are the timelines for this year’s awards:

Submissions: March 24th, 2016 – April 30th, 2016

Judging: May 2016

Announcement of Nominees: May 30th, 2016

Winner’s announcement: June 2016

In 2015, the awards attracted over 1200 entries. Past winners of the Kenya Photography Awards include: Thomas Mukoya (News and Sports), Alice Oldenburg (Daily Life and Nature), John Wambugu (Special Category “Climate Change”), Peter Ndung’u (Portraiture and People’s Choice), Siegmund Kamau (Creative and Most Promising Young Photographer). The overall winner for 2015 was Alice Oldenburg.

The Kenyan Blog Awards 2016 enters voting phase

kenyablogawardsThe Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) has announced the nominees in this years’ Kenyan Blog Awards. The unveiling will also see the opening of the third and most active part of the awards; the online voting phase.

This follows a grueling exercise, by judges, who sifted through a hopping 4,899 blog submissions that were received. The judges who were tasked with selecting the best 5blogs in each category are:

  1. Mikul Shah, Director at EatOut
    2. Ahmed Salim, GM at Qube Ltd
    3. Terryanne Chebet, Senior Anchor & Associate Editor at Citizen TV
    4. Muthoni Maingi, Digital Manager at Safaricom

The nominees for this year’s awards include,,  and Voting in the awards begin today and will close on 1st May 2016.

To vote for their favourite blog in the Kenyan Blog Awards, Kenyans should visit Votes will be limited to one vote per person.

The Kenyan Blog Awards were launched on 8th January, which also coincided with the launch of the submission phase. Blogs were submitted in the competition until 10th February 2016. The judges then took over and selected their best 5 in all the categories.  Winners of the competition will be announced at a gala event on 7th May 2016.

And the nominees are…

  1. Best Technology Blog
  1. Best Photography Blog
  1. Best Creative Writing Blog
  1. Best Business Blog
  1. Best Food Blog
  1. Best Environmental/Agricultural Blog
  1. Best Fashion/Beauty/Hair/Style Blog
  1. Best Political Blog
  1. Best New Blog
  1. Best Corporate Blog
  1. Best Topical Blog
  1. Best Sports Blog
  1. Best Entertainment/Lifestyle Blog
  1. Best Education Blog


  1. Best Travel Blog
  1. Best Health Blog
  1. Best County Blog
  1. Best Religious/Spiritual Blog
  1. Kenyan Blog of the year


Kenyan entertainers invade morning TV and radio

Sauti Sol with Ghost and Gidi

Sauti Sol with Ghost and Gidi

If you want to see some of the most happening acts in Kenya, one of the best spaces to enjoy them are morning radio and TV shows.

I only recently returned to Instagram and discovered that it had become a huge ecosystem with fans in Kenya in the hundreds of thousands. In some instances this social media channel has become even bigger than Twitter.

The biggest users of this social media are mass media and the entertainment community. A very good example was shown this very morning when some of Kenya’s more well known acts were featured on popular media.

Sauti Sol, the biggest band in the country where pop music is concerned, for instance were the guests on Radio Jambo. This breakfast show hosted by Ghost and Gidi is arguably the country’s biggest show at the moment. Also featuring on the station were legendary act the Kassangas of Anne and Japheth who owned the gospel music scene in the 1990s.

Not far from Radio Jambo, Kiss 100’s breakfast show which nowadays goes by the moniker The New Kiss aka #TNK with Kalekye Mumo and Shaffie Weru were hosting a different kind of entertainer. They hosted @Miss_bokland and @serahmolly who are stars of the new viral sensation that is “Nairobi Diaries.” The show that screens every Monday evening on K24 TV features some of Kenya’s most well known socialites; this is a term we use to refer to attractive young women who are seen around media circles but aren’t known for actual jobs.

Nelson Mandela of Sarabi on K24 TV

Nelson Mandela of Sarabi on K24 TV

Talking about K24 TV they were hosting one of the hottest acts to come out of the country Sarabi. These kids are going places with their music and their new documentary.

Across town, Radio Maisha with their morning show Alex and Jalas were hosting Dela Maranga who has become something of an international sensation after her Swahili cover of Hello the mega hit by Brit Adelle. She was promoting the upcoming Sportspesa Festival which she was a performer. Sing it with me… Sportspesa inanyonyaa….

Also featuring in the morning entertainer stakes was Makadem, the singer that has quietly become the King of the new Benga of Kenya. He was featured playing his trusty Nyatiti.

So there you have it. If you want to get your finger on the pulse of what is happening in Kenyan entertainment, you want to get an Instagram account and following all these acts. Its hella fun.

On this post you will see some of the posts the media houses or acts made on their accounts. My Instagram account is @muruajames

Alex and Jalas with Dela Maranga

Alex and Jalas with Dela Maranga

Makadem at Citizen TV

Makadem at Citizen TV


Gidi and Ghost with Anne and Japheth Kassanga

Gidi and Ghost with Anne and Japheth Kassanga

Shaffie and Kalekye with the ladies from Nairobi Diaries

Shaffie and Kalekye with the ladies from Nairobi Diaries


Kenyan Blog Awards 2016: make your submissions

BAKE2016Its that time of the year. The Kenyan Blog Awards 2016, an initiative of the Bloggers association of Kenya (Bake), is now open for your submissions.

The awards which were born in 2012 are in 19 categories. They include;

1. Best Technology Blog

Blogs that cover technology matters like social media, internet usage, consumer electronics, mobile phones, tech startups etc.

2. Best Photography Blog

Blogs that showcase original photos or have photography related content.

3. Best Creative Writing Blog

Blogs that feature original creative writing in the form of poetry, book reviews, fiction and essays.

4. Best Business Blog

Blogs that feature business content like business development, entrepreneurship, startups, stocks, investments, banking etc.

5. Best Food Blog

Blogs that focus on food, cooking tips, restaurants, wines and recipes.

6. Best Environmental/Agricultural Blog

Blogs that focus on the environment and agriculture.

7. Best Fashion/Beauty/Hair/Style Blog

Blogs that highlight current trends in fashion, beauty and style.

8. Best Political Blog

Blogs that cover political issues in Kenya.

9. Best New Blog

Outstanding Blogs that were set up from January 2015 onwards.

10. Best Corporate Blog

Blogs that are run by brands/companies.

11. Best Topical Blog

Blogs with a clear niche that is not represented in any of the other categories.

12. Best Sports Blog

Blogs that feature sports content.

13. Best Entertainment/Lifestyle Blog

Blogs about the Kenyan entertainment industry and Kenyan lifestyle.

14. Best Education Blog

Blogs about education matters and those run by educational institutions.

15. Best Travel Blog

Blogs about travel.

16. Best Health Blog

Blogs about healthcare and healthy living in Kenya.

17. Best County Blog

Blogs that are based in a County and that feature content from a specific County.

18. Best Religious or Spirituality Blog

Blogs that feature content on religion and/or spirituality.

19. Kenyan Blog of the Year

Best overall Kenyan blog.

You have until February 10th, 2016 to submit your favourite blogs as we are now in the awards submission phase. You can submit here. This will be followed by a judging phase from 11th to 28th February, 2016. The judges will select the nominees and the public voting will open on March 2nd– April 30th followed by the Awards gala on May 7th 2015.

Adventures on a budget airline to Kisumu

20151001_143424So I’ve done this whole budget airline thing when I lived in London many moons ago. I remember a good pal of mine calling me about this flight on that was going for 40 pounds return. He was calling around with friends to see who could join him on a weekend to Berlin. I quickly instructed him to pay for it and had a very memorable weekend; including being arrested at the border post for being black and Kenyan. Good times.

Then there was this other time I went on to go visit the same friends family in Milan. That ticket cost me 52 quid. Thats UK pounds. That weekend was also quite memorable as I got to see Italia crush Romania in a world cup qualifier 3-0 where I got to see Alessandro Del Piero play in the flesh at the San Siro.

So you can imagine that for me getting the budget airline experience always seems to have a special thing going for it that I rarely get when I pay for the usual full price airlines.

I’ve only done the “budget airline” thing at home with Fly540 to destinations like Malindi which have also been very memorable. It was in Malindi that I joined a bunch of Nairobi journos for one of those media jaunts. At that gig I remember going to a hotel which gave us a huge seafood platter. People were confused with all the claws and tails on their plates and eventually our host had to get some nyama choma before her charges died of hunger. If you want some Nairobians to eat don’t give them weird lobsters and shrimp et al. Nyama choma will do.

So recently I try a new experience with the folks from, an airline which is pretty young having been found on 13 September 2013. I was riding along with a promotion where they “hijacked” a bus and took the passengers to JKIA and flew them to Kisumu International Airport.

Checking into the Kisumu International Airport

Checking into the Kisumu International Airport

The Kisumu International Airport was one of the main reasons why I had come on this joint. I have been seeing it whenever I am en route to Kampala and wondered what it looked like. I was impressed. I know, why shouldn’t I expect any less but still. Its not the biggest one I’ve been but it was really well done. I will be coming back. At least to hear that man who allegedly plays the nyatiti in the evening has to be investigated.

From there we were of through a Kisumu that has been with a friendly driver with the Senate proceedings on his radio as he guided is through a very well developed city. He would point interesting sights as we headed out of town. There is Kidero’s house. There is Jakoyo Midiwo’s house. Jaramogi’s house is back there. There is the complex that Kosewe (the Ranalo Foods guy). That multiple storey building seems to have stalled from what I could see.

Eventually we made it to our destination; The Kiboko Bay Resourt. Here We spent the next few hours downing some cold one until we left for the hotel; The Vic Hotel at the Nakumatt Mega. Here we had a meal and we were off to Signature for drinking. And dancing.

It was a Kisumu trip to remember as we flew back to Nairobi in the morning.

I’ll be back.

P.S. Looks like Eldoret is now one of the destinations that our friends from Jambojet opened. Very good.

Thoughts on the recently ended Soma Awards 2015

Special Award winner Zawadi Nyong'o

Special Award winner Zawadi Nyong’o

The Social Media Awards of Kenya of 2015 popularly known as the OLX Soma Awards happened at the indoor arena of the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani this Saturday evening.

People came in droves to see who would be going home with the title of best in social media in Kenya. It didn’t disappoint with large number of people at that indoor arena hanging out on that red carpet taking photos for the paparazzi. Truth be told it wasn’t filled to the brim, this wasn’t President Barack Obama who would be addressing them, but the floor was filled. Those there were mainly nominees who would be expected to win the offered categories.

The evening was filled with humourous comedians, yelling winning folks and meeting friends old and new. The biggest winners on the night were Sauti Sol, Daniel Ndambuki aka Churchill and Babu Owino. You can see the list of winners here.

A few things bothered me though. The sound was not on. The emcee, Mwaniki Mwageria one of the best in town, sounded like he was yelling the winners names which made us a bit irritable by the end of the evening. Perhaps the organisers could source that dude that does the sound during the Thursday Nite Live gig that happens at Choices every Thursday?

The corporations that had been slotted to give prizes failed to show up. Actually corporations seemed to given this event a wide berth generally whether handing out or receiving prizes. I know that people were busy but how difficult was it to send a manager to represent you at an award ceremony where you can gain mileage? We were forced to watch a comedian in what seemed to be pajamas handing out a very big award which was not on.

The most glaring thing for me was when a special award for crowd funding for social good was handed out to Zawadi Nyong’o for the #amilliforjadudi campaign. This campaign was started to help raise a million shillings to help fund the health care for Emmanuel Otieno who is known as Jadudi. As Zawadi went to receive her speech she was accompanied by Jadudi himself who declined to go on stage. I assume it may not have worked for him going up the stairs as he seemed to be limping a bit.

Zawadi Nyong’o then went on to give her experience in crowd funding from a few years ago with her 100 twitters followers to date when she was involved with this current successful campaign. She explained how crowd funding could be used to save lives and she thanked all those who tweeted to ensure that the message Jadudi was kept at the top of social media charts for a number of days. She then took her chance to take photos and left the stage. Job done.

The thing is this Jadudi campaign didn’t come to be known to us via Twitter. We all knew about it because of a blog that was written at Bikozulu blog titled That Thing In Jadudi’s Head. The blog told us of this young man struggling with cancer over the last few years and it touched many to contribute to the campaign. So for a person to acknowledge the people who were tweeting and failed to mention whoever was the biggest influencer in this can only be seen as shocking at the very least. That speech disappointed on so many levels.

So there you have it. A few thoughts from what is turning out to be a big awards ceremonies in town.

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