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.

The sad sad day I got a Selfie Stick

The first day I got the Selfie Stick at the Tecno gig

The first day I got the Selfie Stick at the Tecno gig

I got me a Selfie Stick. Be afraid, be very afraid.

So I attended the launch of the Tecno Phantom 5 the other day at the Sankara Hotel. It was one of those affairs that are getting all the vogue with the acts like Kansoul members Kid Kora and Madtraxx who are famous for songs like Nyongwa and Drum. Their song Double Tap about their adventures in social media work very well for a phone launch and they were well received.
As the action was going around me with people bidding for phones and people rushing to get drinks after waiting for all the long speeches I got myself a Selfie Stick. Turns out that there was a promotion where you gave away money of any denomination you got one. So I got one.
Its been a crazy few days since that day. I have been walking our with that Selfie Stick taking photos like my life depends on it. In a Sarabi concert with friends. In my bedroom. In Kisumu at a JamboJet gig. Wherever I could unleash my Selfie Stick it would be unleashed.
I have officially joined the vanity classes. Be afraid folks, be very afraid.
P.S. I’ve been hearing very good things about that Tecno Phantom 5. You want to give it a try.

Victims 1 at Saraba concert.

Victims get the Selfie experience at the Saraba concert.

Geroge Orido and Gitura kamau get Selfied.

Geroge Orido and Gitura kamau get Selfied.

My bedroom makes its world debut.

My bedroom makes its world debut.


Tony Adams aka Mr Arsenal is coming to Kenya. Poor Imperial Bank.

Tony Adams, Arsenal

Tony Adams, Mr Arsenal

So what are you doing on 4th to 5th December? Whatever it is, if you are a gooner then I suggest that you cancel. Mr Arsenal aka Tony Adams is coming to town.

The idea here is that our friends at Barclays have been doing this promotion to where they are trying to convince you to route your salary using their bank. I suspect that they figured out that once your salary goes through a bank most of your financial transactions will be done at the same place. It took you long enough Barclays so I salute your catching up on that one.

Anyway back to Mr Arsenal. Tony Adams spent his entire playing career of 22 years in the colours of Arsenal and is considered one of the greatest Arsenal players of all times.
With Arsenal, Adams won four top flight division titles, uniquely captaining a title-winning team in three different decades, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and three FA Community Shields. He is one of only three people with a statue outside of the Emirates stadium alongside legendary striker Thierry Henry and former club manager Herbert Chapman. Thats some mad recognition by the team he led for so many years.

He’ll be in town on 4th – 5th December to joining a select group of lucky Barclays’ customers for an exclusive Barclays Premier League VIP viewing experience. In addition, he will visit the home of one lucky family and kit them out in the full regalia of their favourite Barclays Premier League side.

Speaking to the press Tony Adams said, “The Barclays Premier League is without a doubt the biggest and the best league in world football. I am still an avid supporter and I cannot wait to join Barclays in Kenya to share these unique experiences with them.”

If you want to one of the lucky few to meet Mr Arsenal then you want to open a Barclays account between now and 31 December 2015 and transfer their salary into this account each month. Furthermore, customers who register for online banking with Barclays will stand a chance of winning two tickets to a VIP Barclays Premier League Fan Zone with Tony Adams. More information can be found at

WHen things were good for Imperial: Arsenal FC's Head of Partnership and Development together with Arsenal fan, Frank Munene and Imperial Bank's Group Managing Director

WHen things were good for Imperial: Arsenal FC’s Head of Partnership and Development together with Arsenal fan, Frank Munene and Imperial Bank’s Group Managing Director

The people who won’t be celebrating are the bank that has been associated with Arsenal in Kenya in recent times. The Imperial Bank which was the local Arsenal partner has done events with the legendary UK sports brand. Unfortunately, even the sheen of the Arsenal can’t help them as they have been put under the administration of the Central bank of Kenya.

The bank which only the other we were lauding as they unleashed new Arsenal cards has seen the Central bank flex its muscles. Its not every day that the CBK says “that it has become unaware of unsafe or unsound business conditions” at your bank and they are hiring someone to be in charge, pole sana.

So if you moved to Imperial Bank because of your love of the Arsenal this is a very trying time. This individual customer’s plight might be very familiar,

“When you are told your bank has been put under receivership and you run there to withdraw your money only to find the doors closed. My only reaction was to laugh. I don’t think anyone who has millions held there will be laughing when they find out they can’t withdraw their money.”

Fear not though, just move to Barclays and you could get to meet Mr Arsenal. Hopefully.

Makadem’s appearance at Choices’ Thursday Nite Live event

Makadem is killing it. Photo: Quaint Photography

Makadem is killing it. Photo: Quaint Photography

Makadem was the featured artist at the Thursday Nite Live an event that happens every Thursday at the Choices in Nairobi.

If you are ever in Nairobi and live music is your thing, Thursday Nite Live hosted every Thursday at Choices has come to define the best in our live music scene. This event run by Rashid Jibril involves a musician who knows how to play live music playing for patrons of the famous venue. Some of the best artists in the country and some from out of the region have performed at the event. The beauty about it? The punters at Choices pay nothing. This makes it probably the best free live event in town; it has also been described in some quarters as one of the best regularly running events on the continent.

On Thursday a good friend of mine had asked to join him for Thursday Nite Live at Choices and I was happy to accompany him. I hadn’t even bothered to find out who would be performing on the day as it is always hard to keep up with which act that would be performing on the day. Also all the bands on the stage were usually kick butt so it didn’t matter. So you can imagine my joy when I strolled into the place and who had just ended their set: Makadem.

Makadem is a very special fellow. He was initially a pop artist of the R&B and hip hop genre when he was in Mombasa before moving to Nairobi and changing his music genre. He fused older tradition instruments like the nyatiti the lyre of the Luo and the traditional drum with the modern guitar, keyboard and drums. This new music took a while to develop so there were many wondering why was once of the best rapper/singer changing his name and becoming Ohanglaman Makadem. It eventually worked and Makadem is one of the most sought out live acts on the European scene and on the continent where folks are looking for amazing music.

This was the act that I was to watch this evening and when I checked in he was taking a break after doing his first set. Eventually he jumped back on stage and started his second set with his anthem to Gor Mahia and the crowd started responding. As he went through his two hour set, which was increased by almost half an hour by crowd demand, the crowd would jump up and down and dance. It didn’t matter that many didn’t understand the words in his songs as they were in the Luo language as well were all getting into a frenzy as the many belted out his tunes. As he went through his set he would play a variety of instruments, the guitar, the nyatiti, the kayamba skillfully. It was his voice that most shone that Thursday evening; a powerful instrument that caressed and cajoled as well and inspired one to dance.

He was accompanied by a Uganda performer Giovanni who was also very good but this night belonged to the Ohanglaman and his band.

The beauty about Makadem is that his success has seen him at the forefront of live music in the country. He is the ultimate musician’s musician so in the audience you could see Iddi Aziz, Winyo Shipton, James Jozee of Gogosimo Band and other acts jamming to their friend’s music. It’s such a wonderful sight to see truth be told.

MakademIf you were ever lucky enough to hear that Makadem is on your neck of the woods to perform I recommend that you check him out. He is totally worth every cent.

P.S. Makadem is one of several Kenyans up for awards at the All Africa Music Awards (Afrima) this year with a nomination for Best African Contemporary. Please vote for him. You can also check him out here.

P.P.S. Check out images from the concert here.

Oliver Mtukudzi rocks the Koroga Festival

Oliver Mtukudzi

Oliver Mtukudzi

The Koroga Festival is fast becoming the event to go and watch some of the best live music in Nairobi. The event is hosted on the first Sunday of the month every two months at the Arboretum Grounds and has hosted some really cool African artists. Some of these include Baba Maal, Simphiwe Dana and Salif Keita.

This Sunday, yesterday, it was the turn of Oliver Mtukudzi to give a live to his many Nairobi fans one of who I count myself. When the Sunday broke there was a concern that there would be some of the dreaded rain that we have been experiencing in recent times that have been wrecking havoc. It had rained on Saturday night but fortunately the day was better and by the afternoon we were enjoying a sunny day in our nation’s capital.

The Arboretum was filled to the brim with folks out to meet and greet and enjoy what was on offer. I enjoyed meeting folks like Blinky Bill of Just A Band, Chris Adwar of The Villagers fame, Diana Opoti of 100 days of African Fashion fame, Rayhab Gachango of Potentash fame, Paul Munene of Quaint Photography… I can go on all day.

There were many performances there at the muddy grounds of the Arboretum that we should really refer to as Matopeni in honour of the old Vioja Mahakamani show. The most memorable of these for me was a set that was done by Octopizzo (yes, that’s really his name) alongside Just-A-Band.

A few minutes before 5pm the legend himself came on stage with his band; a fellow guitarist, a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer as well as a girl on background vocals aka BGVs.

The show started at a slow pace with the instruments somehow while being European giving a very distinctively African feel. I don’t know how that band did it but I could feel it in my bones. Here. * points to gut*

As we were dancing to the music I would look around and there was a huge number of folks singing alongside to his songs. Its times like these that made you realise how international Nairobi is as well as just how big the Zimbabwean population here is. I had a blast as I was explained to by my Zimbabwean partner as each song came; this one is about a father who promises to buy his daughter Pata pata slippers from Bata to congratulate her on her marriage, this one about this, this one is about this. Even though I didn’t understand what he was saying it was a world class performance I was enjoying in that tent in the Arboretum.

As he would sing and play the guitar and sing in his signature deep voice he would pause to dance and jump making me have to google to confirm that I was watching a 63 year old man perform. If I could dance like him at fourty five for almost two hours I would be a happy man.

At one point he strummed a few keys and every single Kenyan went wild. The song he had started singing was Todii the one song we are all familiar with. So you can be sure to hear my relatives happily sing along as soon as we here the chorus;

Hooo todini, senzeni, what shall we do
What shall we do , tingadii
Senzenjani, what shall we do, what shall we do

A funny thing. When I asked some of my colleagues what the song just before doing this blog their answer was, “its about todi, what shall we do.” Well the song is about a subject that will surprise many Kenyans; its an advocacy song for HIV/AIDS. Yep. If you go to this link you will get the English translation in this website you will realise what the song is about. Here is a section of the lyrics with the Shona on the left and the English translation on the right after the /

Zvinorwadza sei kurera rufu mumaoko/ how painful it is to look after someone u know is gonna die
Kana uinawo utachiwana/ when they have AIDS
Zvinorwadza sei kuchengeta rufu mumaoko/ this person has gotten something that will lead to their death
Kana uinawo utachiwana/ when they have AIDS
Bva zvamabata pamuviri pasina raramo / death has been made manifest
Kana uinawo utachiwana / when they have AIDS
Bva zvapatumbuka pamuviri pasina raramo / this is a condition that will not spare them
Kana uinawo utachiwana / when they have AIDS

Even though many aren’t aware of what the song is about we all sang along to the song like our lives depended on it. The only weird thing was his stage exit; he was performing when he strolled of stage and never came back.

After this I took off but having spent an amazing afternoon have have listened to some of the best music my continent has to offer. Yes, I’ll be back, Koroga.

Check out images from the gig from Quaint Photography.

>> Previous Koroga Blogs

:: Simphiwe Dana rocks Nairobi big time

What’s the value of a prize?

BAKE Chairman Kennedy Kachwanya with Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi at the signing ceremony

BAKE Chairman Kennedy Kachwanya and Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi trying to figure the right gift to appease Biko

The Short version

The value of an award is not the value of the prizes that come with it. If Bikozulu decides that the little gifts are the reason folks are attending an award ceremony then he doesn’t get the whole point. You’re better than this Biko. Seriously.

The Long version

I was one of the many folks who attended the Bake Awards that was hosted at the Intercontinental Hotel the other weekend. I went to these awards because I always attend these events; this is the third year of the awards and I am yet to miss one. This year I had an added incentive. This blog had been nominated in the Lifestyle/Entertainment category; this was the first time it was up for an award.

So let’s talk about the Bloggers Awards. It’s now in its third year; in the first year it was in a small room at the Southern Sun in Parklands before last year it made the triumphant entry to the Intercontinental. The awards are evolving before my very eyes from not existing to being a serious awards evening.

So what is the point of the awards anyway? The blog scene in Kenya has blown up in the last few years. Now there are thousands of blogs putting out Kenyan content out there; we are punching above our weight on the continent where this is concerned. With so many blogs we need a system to give a nod to the people doing a great job for our blogosphere; enter the Bake Bloggers Awards. These awards have been good for me for the last three years. It is because of them that I have discovered so many cool new blogs that I would otherwise never have heard of. For the consumers of blogs, the awards are an opportunity for you to find new content.

It’s not only the consumer like myself who benefits from these blogs. The bloggers get to know who are in their category and sometimes meet them for collaborations if needed. They also know that they are on the right track as someone has vetted and shortlisted them.

Then there are the people who in the recent past have cottoned onto the fact that there is something big happening online in recent times and they need to be a part of that narrative; corporations. They won’t necessarily want to work with the Bloggers Association but they will know what is considered to be a great blog when they are planning.

On the award ceremony day I was excited to be at the Intercont meeting folks that I only meet via their social media timelines. These are the folks who you keep planning to meet for coffee/beers/spliffs and as you merrily live your life realise that it’s been a year already since you last met them. So it was a hallos and hugs and all that and more as I met people like Steve Biko, Mr Majani, Mwirigi aka #PoleKwaMwirigi, Magunga, Dear Doris, Potentash… Actually bloggers if you use that sample have very weird names. I’m just saying.

Then there was the nomination for the awards. What was very cool as far as I was concerned was that I was up against in my category so I wasn’t too worried about winning it. Ghafla is the big bruiser in the Kenyan entertainment scene when blogging is concerned. These guys came to a scene that was owned by the legacy media and caused a revolution with pithy posts filled with innuendo and girls with big booty. The model has been so successful that it has inspired a string of copycat blogs that have enriched the Kenyan blogosphere with their “ratchetness.” I am quite happy with this state of affairs as for many years the only content that we would get from Kenya was very prim and proper politics, business and sport. We were inundated with what editors in newsrooms thought was important and not what the people might have wanted.

I wasn’t even sure why I was in the category with them but I knew that I would not be winning this it. All I hoped was that I was not beaten so bad that I wouldn’t be able to show my face in public again. won; of course. I came a respectable third behind another showbiz site.

At one point as I was drinking copious amounts of Tusker at the event bar, Bake official James Wamathai came by and said to me as I complimented him and the team on another successful event, “thanks. But sorry about the awards in your category, we’ll try and do something better next year.”

That struck me as odd. We are at an award ceremony, why would be concerned about the extras given IF I was to win the big gong when that was not part of the program announced in advance. After the awards a blog post was written by the winner in the creative category Biko Zulu (told you they have weird names) with the title I got the Shirt. In it the usually hilarious Biko gives the middle finger to the people who organized the awards for giving him the following prizes; a cheap phone, a T-shirt (wrong size), a notebook and a pen. You could read from the text that this was a man who was pissed off at being handed such worthless baubles. Many of the people who commented supported his charge that they need to give more. Predictably.

Let’s look at the prize thing. What is the value of some of the most famous prizes in the world? You win the Nobel Prize you go home with over one million US dollars. When you win an Oscar you go home with a gold plated trophy, no cash. When you win a Grammy you go home with a trophy, no cash.

Let’s come closer home. What are the prizes that you are eligible for? The richest one out there is the Mohammed Ibrahim Prize. If you are an African president and you run your country properly without stealing or burning it to the ground you get US$5 million when you retire.

For the literati, if you win the Caine Prize for African literature, a prize for a short story, you win 10,000 UK pounds. When you win the Etisalat Prize for African literature, a prize for a debut novel, you go home with US$15,000.

What is the value of the prize that was given to him and eighteen other categories? The fact that you are winning these prizes today doesn’t mean that you will keep winning them. Sharon Mundia came for a coronation as best Blogger and best fashion Blogger and was upstaged by someone very few who are not blogging had heard about. Bankelele who has won the last two years was upstaged by another newcomer. Winning previously doesn’t guarantee future winning in this game.

You rant about an award ceremony that YOU DIDN’T SEE THE VALUE OF ATTENDING. If it was not worth your time to leave your house and join other bloggers and see what prize you were winning then why would you complain at the prize on offer? Is the value of the award only the prize you get? Should the organisers tell you in future what is accompanying the prize and will they need your approval on what you might possibly get before entering your hallowed name? What if next year they decide that the winner gets vouchers for dinner for two at Nairobi West’s West Mall would you withdraw your blog if shortlisted? I think that the pork there is to die for but maybe you aren’t a fan. Would I as a nominee have to forfeit that tasty pork because you do not approve?

Here is the thing. These awards are a platform. If you feel that the prize is the goodies that you get alongside the recognition then you really don’t get the point. Your blog is happy to post a “Bloggers Award 2015 Winner” image because you know that people who aren’t in your high school gang know that there is value in it.

I am in the High School Gang for a reason; I agree with many of your opinions. I was with you on your blast at the British High Commission at denying you a visa. I was with you on those Mothers Union underthings. On this one I am squarely on the other side.

One on one with Njeri Mwangi: the woman behind the Canon Kenya Photography Awards

Njeri Mwangi

Njeri Mwangi

The Canon Kenya Photography Awards will be happening this Sunday at KICC in Nairobi and we shall be selecting the best photographers in the country. As we build to it we talk to the founder of the awards Njeri Mwangi. Mwangi is the Co-Founder PAWA254, Nairobi’s first unique social enterprise through which innovative creative professionals from diverse artistic fields exploit their creative genius to foster social change. A graduate of Daystar University with a degree in Public Relations, Njeri has experience in event planning and management, and organized the first Kenya Photography Awards in 2013.

Photography is an art that is slowly picking up in Kenya, tell me more about that?

With the wave of mobile phones with cameras, Kenyans have taken on to photography in a big way and have also come to appreciate it some more because with it they are capturing memorable moments. We are having more of exhibitions and Kenyans are also going to see these exposures. Others have even taken to it as a tool of communication/ information/empowerment. Better still it is a source of livelihood for many that are making it be for them.

What potential do you see in the art?

There is really no limit to photography as an art. Like I said we have taken to art as a tool of communication and you can use it to evoke all kinds of emotions and well done, it can arouse all the common senses.

Compared to other countries, how well are we doing in photography as a full time career?

Truly we are lagging behind in that area. Few of our photographers are making a decent living from photography (and I mean as freelancers without having to supplement their incomes). We have come along way as most of our photographers are self-taught and graduates of YouTube.

You started the Kenya Photography Awards in November 2013, how did that come about?

We did. Photographers are seen to deliver a service, something that people seem not to understand and as such they do not see why they need to pay well for this since it seems quite not quantifiable. Photography is also a medium that opens the world by way of taking us closer beyond the borders, sort of like books do. So we thought that we needed to acknowledge how much time, and trouble, and risk that photographer’s take to show us the things that we can only imagine. They give us a taste of reality in a dose that moves us to action on so many levels. We also really wanted to celebrate our own piece of work since it rarely happens. Other countries celebrate and acknowledge their creative and we want to encourage this culture here in Kenya.

It’s now over one year since you started the initiative, what changes or achievements have you seen over time?

We have seen photographers’ come together to realize what they can do and they have become even more aware of their trade. They have taken into sharpening their skills and have invested in getting better and learning from each other. They also have also learnt to package themselves and do business in a way that they do not need side hustles to make ends meet- and this is work in progress. They are getting better pay and are starting to put themselves out there to be acknowledged for what they are doing.

Njeri Mwangi with guest as they launch the 2015 edition of the Canon Kenya Photography Awards

Njeri Mwangi (R) with guests as they launch the 2015 edition of the Canon Kenya Photography Awards

You will be recognizing top photographers in the country on Saturday, tell me more about that?

So, we recently completed the 2015 competition. We got a total of 1166 entries, 34 short of the first competition. This time we had fewer ladies participating and even worse is that we got only one lady making it to the shortlist. I hope that the lady photographers can come forth boldly and take their place in this space. We will be recognizing top photographers in the country on May 10th, 2015 at the Kenyatta International Conference and through this we hope to inspire young photographers to take the space.

What categories are there under the rewards model?
This year we had 9 categories namely News, Daily Life, Sports, Nature, Portraiture, Creative, Most Promising Young Photographer, People’s Choice and The special category courtesy of Alliance Françoise, of a theme chosen to converge with the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in December 2015.
We are seeing more and more young people in the country venturing into full time photography? What do you think has led to this?

I like to believe is because people have become more aware of Photography being a skilled art. Even though there are so many cameras around us, people are still looking for professionals to get some jobs done and this is where these young people have found relevance. It is also an adventure and a risk to find something that you love to do and go for it. They say do something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.

What is your advice to young photographers as you prepare to crown top photographers in the country?

We have just scratched the surface with photography. We know Kenyans who are making a decent living out of Photography. If this is something you want to do, then take time and learn all there is to learn. Invest your time in shooting and working closely with those that do what you would like to do. Take classes. Invest in good equipment. A website, or a blog and go all out. You are young, you have time on your side so take your chances and go for it! You can change your world with that camera in your hand.

What is the future of photography in the country?

At the rate we are going, I hope to see Kenyan corporates supporting Kenyan photographers’ by giving them work and paying them well. It takes two to tango and there is great and amazing talent here at home. I hope we can also support and participate in local competitions and make room for local exhibitions so that we can empower both the aspiring photographer and the public on the power of a single camera. A single shot.

Are you working with any partners for the upcoming awards night?
We are very fortunate to have Canon (a leading brand of cameras) as the main sponsor this year round. This is a show of how serious they take photography and are keen on putting even Kenyans on the international scene of photography. We also have the Swiss embassy as supporting sponsors and the support of the Kenya International Conference Centre. Besides that we have Lightbox Production’s, Let’s Talk Kenya and Pinkfoot Consult.

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