Thoughts on the Tusker Jenga Game promotion

Joseph Kadenge: This gentlemen won't convince me to go to the stadium

Joseph Kadenge: This gentlemen won’t convince me to go to the stadium

EABL’s current promotion for their Tusker brand is something called “Jenga Game” (build the game) which is meant to drive people back to sports stadia. The concept is very welcome as going to see a live match is still unheard of in many sporting disciplines. The football and rugby people are the ones who get the bulk of the people who attend matches and even there it is specific clubs who get the bulk of supporters. They include Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Harlequins (no longer the lip balm boys), Impala and Mwamba aka Kulabu. So every little help to get people out of the bars where they are making Arsenal Vs Man United, a mid table clash in England, trend on twitter and into Kenya sports arenas is appreciated.

My only concern is with the spokesmen that they chose to drive their campaign. The clever people at EABL sad down and opted for tried and trusted folks to run their campaign like former Harambee Stars captain Musa Otieno, legendary footballer Joseph “Kadenge na mpira” Kadenge and rugby player Lavin Asego. The adverts that we have been watching on TV have them reminiscing about their glory days on the pitch and how they were excited by the support of the fans so you too should go out and “jenga game.”

I understand why they used these names as they have name recognition where Kenyans are concerned and would theoretically appeal to us easier. Unfortunately, when you go out to the stadium you are unlikely to know the people who you are likely to be supporting if you follow these veterans advice. With this move Tusker misses out on a valuable opportunity to show us the current stars of the game so that when we go out we will immediately recognise an Andrew Amonde, a Dan Sserunkuma or a Jacob Keli as they ply their trade.

Please don’t give me a story about they are unheard so might not bring the fans to the terraces. Tusker Project Fame, one of the most celebrated reality TV shows in the country, is designed with the idea of unknowns getting the limelight. You can make big names from nobodies (sorry if you are a nobody and you consider yourself a somebody) if you put your mind to it. You however give potential fans watching those adverts the impression that the game has never moved on. You are telling them that there are no new crowd favourites if we have to stick with players who last plied their trade in the twentieth century to appeal to them.

These volleyball queens win trophies. Use one them.

These volleyball queens win trophies. Use one them.

Then there is the use of only guys. Come on. In the last few Olympics women have been giving us just as much glory as the men so you can tell me that you can’t find at least one woman to have on your campaign. If you can convince our athletes then you can go with the volleyball queen or those hottie Orange Telkom hockey babes. You have no excuse in 2014 to run a campaign with only men in Kenya for a mass market product. Especially one that Tusker considers itself to be.

A review of Love Brewed in an African Pot by Kwaw Ansah

Love-brewed-in-an-African-potLegendary Ghanaian movie producer director Kwaw Ansah was in town for a movie festival recently. His biggest claim to fame in these parts is the 1981 movie Love Brewed in the African Pot. The visit of the producer reminded me about how much my mum loved the movie since she watched in when it was first screened in Nairobi in the early eighties at the Nairobi Cinema. She loved it so much that she always made a point to go to the theatre whenever they screened it again which tended to happen at least once a year. Her two yearly arts related habits are thus reading Pride and Prejudice that Jane Austen classic and watching Love Brewed in the African Pot.

If you want to enjoy the movie you can watch it now as it is available online for free on your tube. How cool is that? One hour and fifty seven minutes of movie that I can watch from the comfort of my computer. This I did and I was impressed. The movie is about Aba, a young woman born to privilege who falls in love with the son of a fisherman. That’s the story in a nutshell really; random dude who can’t even read gets to fall in love with a girl way out of his league and luckily for him she accepts his “love” and they marry. That theoretically should be end of the tale but we all know that this is never so when watching movies from our continent.

Aba’s parents especially her dad were hoping that their pretty daughter would marry the son of a prominent man who was a lawyer. The family of said lawyer had already approached Aba’s family seeking her hand as they do in such movies (and in real life sometimes I have heard). She rejects the advances and goes for her fisherman’s son who is a mechanic’s apprentice and marries him and they start living the simple life. She starts sewing clothes to help generate extra income and gets pregnant. Happily ever after surely? Nope.

First the lawyer dude who was rejected decides to opt for the stalking option and starts following the young woman Aba around trying to convince him to get back with him. Even though he knows she is a married woman. Psycho. In one of lawyer dudes unsuccessful approaches Joe sees the two engrossed in talk and the simple man loses it accusing his wife of cheating on him and disowning his child to be. He heads to the bar to catch a few pints and his wife unwisely follows him to ask him to return home; he says no and hurls her to the ground in anger and of course she loses her child. Sob. On returning from the hospital where her beloved Joe never visited, she encounters the stalker lawyer and she pelts him with tomatoes (food fights in an African themed movie from 1981 – how revolutionary). More bad things happen to her and she is eventually has to get the double treatment for her ills. First a witchdoctor cures her of the bad spirits and then she lands in the looney bin as she needs her hubby. He eventually comes to the rescue. Late bastard.

The movie was extremely enjoyable to watch with some very cool visuals in many areas with the beach scene where Joe shows his strength coming quickly to mind. In this scene, the men of the beach sit in a semi circle and those who felt the strongest would challenge whoever was in the centre to a pushing contest like with the Sumo people. The battle is very congenial with everyone singing and clapping rhythmically including the wrestlers which kind of takes away the sting of the battling. Then there were the dream sequences with the father visualizing his daughter being married to the most eligible dude in the land. It was a mite surreal that visual. Also in the surreal territory was the scenes of witches that were haunting the girl Aba.

Her father had wanted her to marry someone from her league and she of course chose her preferred mate who proved her dad right as he was a spineless no good dude who couldn’t even believe his wife when she had told him that she was only with him. Punk. He really deserved the pain and she didn’t poor child.

I recommend you watch this movie. There are some very dark scenes you have to navigate and there are some scenes that are not necessary, film editors weren’t that glorified in those days and there was no HD, but it shows Ghana in the late seventies/early eighties and you want to see that. The older you are the more likely to enjoy it.
You can watch the movie yourself below.

Airtel Kenya appoints Titus Naikuni Chairman, journos synchronise watches

ef03fBharti Airtel, has just announced the appointment of Titus Naikuni as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Airtel Kenya. Dr Naikuni’s most recent full time job was at the group CEO of Kenya Airways.

It’s a big statement from the Mombasa Road based firm which has been dealing with some serious competition from the leading firm on the other side of town. Hopefully the company which has the best products in Kenya’s mobile environment right now, in my opinion, will start showing my countrymen the real deal.

Commenting on the appointment, Christian de Faria, CEO – Airtel Africa, said: “We are pleased to have Dr. Naikuni on the Board. His wealth of experience will add immense value to the Board and provide strategic guidance to our operations in Kenya, to enable Airtel gain an important place in the Telecom sector in the country.”

Titus Naikuni: please note the watch journos

Titus Naikuni: please note the watch journos

You can expect to see a change within Airtel Kenya going forward from now on I suspect. And you expect to see journalists who attend press conferences for the firm getting there bang on time as Titus Naikuni has not time for tardy journos. Synchronise your watches ladies and gentlemen journos.

“Kenya’s newest billionaire Peter Nduati” articles are coming

edmpcResolution Insurance have a new moneybags investor; Leapfrog investments. The company will be investing KSh 1.68b ($US18.7m) for a majority stake in Resolution Insurance, through its holding company, Resolution Health East Africa Limited.

LeapFrog Investments is the world’s largest dedicated private equity investor in emerging markets financial services. The group’s portfolio of companies currently reaches over 22 million people across 16 countries. It also has investments in insurance underwriters and distributors in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and India. Resolution Health East Africa Limited is the holding company for leading East African general insurer Resolution Insurance with operations in Kenya and Tanzania and in partnership with IAA-Resolution in Uganda.

The new investment makes sense to Leapfrog as they get to get a foothold in the East African regions burgeoning insurance sector estimated to be worth KSh 180 billion (US$2 billion) and growing. In fact LeapFrog partner Dominic Liber said of the connection: “Resolution is a strong and growing business, with an exceptional management team. In a short time, Resolution has grown to become Kenya’s fourth largest health insurer and positioned itself as a rising star in East Africa’s fast-expanding health insurance space. Our investment positions Resolution to take the next leap in its growth, and we look forward to working with them to expand their reach in health insurance and beyond.”

Shock as Peter Nduati looks like a normal breathing human being

Shock as Peter Nduati looks like a normal breathing human being

Resolution CEO, Peter Nduati was equally chuffed with the new proceedings and stated; “We are excited to partner with LeapFrog for our next stage of growth. We believe that LeapFrog’s dedicated operational investing approach, strong track record in health insurance, and emerging consumer expertise will add tremendous value. Importantly, LeapFrog shares our entrepreneurial ethos and commitment to financial inclusion.”

The concern is that with the Kshs1.6 billion injected where Nduati is a majority shareholder you can expect to see many news outlets running with “the newest billionaire in the Kenyan streets” story. Expect magazine covers on Management, quirky Business Daily profiles with Jackson Biko (Update: Its been done already), profiles on the business segments of KTN, NTV and Citizen. Also CNBC. Then the social websites Mpasho, Ghalfa et al will start serving you blogs like, “Shock as Billionaire Peter Nduati seen eating mutura at Njugunas!” The gist of that post will be that it is surprising that such a rich man would stoop so low when he should be eating only at Caramel. Another headline would be “Shock as Kenyan Billionaire seen dancing with ratchets (Photos| NSWF)!” (Apologies but those blogs love using the word “shock” with the thesaurus on their computers having been disabled) When you click like you do you will see the guy dancing on stage at Blankets and Wine or Koroga. It’s going to be epic. You heard it here first.

A very impressive play Kaggia by John Sibi-Okumu

Harry Ebale as Kaggia and Bruce Makau as Jomo Kenyatta

Harry Ebale as Kaggia and Bruce Makau as Jomo Kenyatta

The most recent play at the Phoenix Players was Kaggia written by well known playwright John Sibi-Okumu aka JSO. Of course I had to watch it. I am big fan of JSO and I have been going back to the theatre in recent times so this worked quite well for me.

Phoenix Players at the Professional Centre on Parliament Road usually costs Kshs500 for those who might want to visit and their plays happen on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 6:30pm and at 3 and 6 on Saturday and Sunday. I went to watch this play on Thursday evening as I knew that there was no way I would be getting seat on the Friday.

The play is directed by Nick Njache and has a cast of Harry Ebale, Lydiah Gitachu, Yriimo Mwaura and Bruce Makau. The way the play is designed, two people come on stage and they start discussing scenes from the life Bildad Kaggia, which are being acted out, and how they would make a movie from it. The title role of Kaggia is played by Ebale while the freedom fighter’s wife Wambui is played by Lydia Gitachu. The other scenes are shared between the other two actors.

Some of the scenes they portray from Kaggia’s eventful life include the timehe is serving time in jail in the North to when he is fighting in Egypt where he had been during World War Two. In independence times we get to see the politician and the drama he has to survive to represent his people as well as after he leaves active politics and starts working at a posho mill. There are also scenes from his domestic life with his wife and daughter.

Some of the more colourful portrayals were done by Makau who played a wide variety of characters including two of the presidents Kenyatta senior and Arap Moi. That actor was very versatile and impressed me.

Also playing a role to remember was Gitachu who is a Phoenix Players veteran with her turn as Wambui. In one scene, she speaks to a journalist (the audience) as she explains how she came to be with this legendary man and how she was happy to share his painful journey however difficult it got.

The play is carried by Harry Ebale as Bildad Kaggia as he goes through his different phases; young man too shy to approach Wambui to fire filled man who stands up to Jomo Kenyatta telling him he was there to represent his people and not become rich. His final monologue where he speaks of the love of his just passed on wife at the funeral is one of the best I have seen in a long while and it left a tear in my eye.

The play is brilliant. JSO is quite the feminist if what was on offer is any indication. He brings out the women in the liberation struggle who have long been unheard of in many narratives about that period of our history with the wife of the hero playing a prominent role. It was appreciated by this play watcher as I have a thing for seeing women in more diverse roles in our arts.

Then there is the history of the period. Kaggia shows a gentlemen many of us were never privy to and you can see the research that was done by the playwright. JSO tells me that there is a biography going for Kshs2,000 at the bookshops and I will be looking out for it.

Taking about the history it reminds us that the brutality that was meted out on our society was so awful that any lists of the evils feature our poor nation prominently. Here is one handy one from Listserve to show you just how bad the Brits did us in; 10 Evil Crimes Of The British Empire – Listverse

With more information coming out as the time passes it is gratifying to see some of our best writers, John Sibi-Okumu is one of the best on the continent in my view, start dealing with those demons. Kenya was done horrible things and we seemed as a society to be suffering some collective Stockholm Syndrome; cosying it up with everything British. Maybe we want to look again at who we are is what this play tells me. It’s a call to action to start digging again to see if the “independence” we gained was at a cost that we are still paying. I have started that journey recently and I recommend that you do.

Public Relations Awards 2014 on the way

prskomegaThe PRSK Awards has continuously endeavored to recognize and reward PR practitioners who have showcased successful delivery of strategic, creative and professional public relations campaigns. The awards are open to members and non – members drawn from business enterprises, associations, private and government bodies as well as students pursuing pr/related studies. The PRSK Awards reflect the level of competitive services offered in the Kenya PR industry and are aligned with the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden World Awards. The 2014 awards are divided into three sections namely PR Campaign Categories, Supplementary Categories and Honorary Categories:-

PR Campaigns categories

  1. Media Relations Campaign of the Year
  2. Consumer Relations Campaign of the Year
  3. Public Affairs Campaign of the Year
  4. PR Event of the Year
  5. Social Responsibility Campaign of the Year
  6. Internal Communication Campaign of the Year
  7. Sponsorship Campaign of the Year
  8. New Media PR Campaign of the Year
  9. Public Sector Campaign of the Year
  10. Not for Profit Campaign of the Year 

Supplementary categories

  1. Corporate Publication of the Year
  2. Young Communicator of the Year

Honorary categories

  1. PRSK Golden Honours
  2. PRSK Sheppard Honours.

Winners of the awards will be announced on 5th December, 2014 at a gala dinner hosted at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.

One man’s adventures in selling on OLX

My first OLX advert baby!

My first OLX advert baby!

If you watch a TV you know that OLX is a pretty useful tool to sell stuff that you don’t need any more. With January and the need for school fees coming, then I figured that I might want to prepare for the longest month of the year. The thirty one day month feels like it goes on for 57 days and is also known in this town as “Njaanuary.”

I didn’t have anything to sell really but a book and I started the whole process of being an OLXer. I logged onto the online app on my computer and signed up. With my names JamesMurua I could now sell my soul if I so wished (which with the way people have been stripping one another makes perfect sense- people have been selling them en masse in recent days).

I posted my product which is a book and I waited for the customers to come in and I would be the next Jeff Bezos. This is because I had posted the book at the Books-CDs-DVDs category. Here was the message I received from the folks at OLX

Hello JamesMurua,
We’re sorry but your ad London Cape Town Joburg is not active due to one of the following reasons:
  • One or more photos have no relation with the posted item.
  • It includes photos associated with content that is not allowed by OLX.
  • It contains photos that might be considered questionable.
We recommend you to edit your ad and change the photos. Keep in mind that you only have 7 days to make any changes.
After you edit your ad, we will send you a message to let you know when

I was to be unsuccessful in my first trial at listing of my first product. What could I be doing wrong? I mean all those folks doing the TV OLX challenge and raking in the big, or rather medium sized, bucks and smiling. There is a lot of smiling in those ads and people happily declaring “Thank you OLX!” When do I get my smiles?

I did eventually go through OLX and learn a few things about the system;

Lesson one; Use my own photos. The system sees to magically known that the photo of the book that have been culled from the internet. While they need to be your own, they need to be clear enough that whoever is using a mulika mwiki aka Ideos can see the product and want to buy. More pictures work better of course so that whoever needs to buy the product can get see it more clearly, have a more detailed look.

Lesson two: I had copied the blurb from the book verbatim onto the description of product. It seems like a great idea and it is easier for me as all I did was copy and paste from the back of the book. Unfortunately, book blurbs can sometimes fail to give the story in a simple way as the product is being targeted at literature buffs. For real human beings you want to try and used words in your description like X book by writer Z. Simpler can be more effective in life and in OLX.

Lesson three: Price. That’s a tricky one I don’t think that my book entry was rejected because of the price. I was selling a new book and so I wasn’t going to go at a lower price. When making the price a juicy price will probably go a long way to ensuring that the product flies off your OLX account.

Will I be going back to OLX? Hell yeah. December will be a good time to be that story while people are spending like crazy. Assuming I have some extra change I will be on there in early January as we all know that there shall be some desperate people looking to offload stuff after overspending over the holidays. See you then.

P.S. You can get a copy of the book I posted on OLX here.

Airtel is basically free web surfing now

freeAirtel Kenya has just announced several services for their subscribers. The following services will now be free, in addition to twitter for the company’s subscribers;

· AccuWeather - Get updated weather information

· BBC News - Read news from around the world

· BBC Swahili - Soma habari motomoto Sza dunia

· BabyCenter & MAMA - Learn about pregnancy and children

· BrighterMonday - Search for jobs

· Daily Nation - Read news about Kenya

· Ebola Information - Get information about Ebola from UNICEF

· Facebook - Communicate with friends and family

· Facts for Life - Find health and hygiene information

· Girl Effect - Read articles and tips for girls

· Jamii Forums - Discuss news, sports, politics and more

· Messenger - Send messages to friends and family

· OLX - Buy and sell products and services

· Scholars4Dev - Find scholarships abroad

· SuperSport - Get sports updates

· Toto HealthLearn about maternal health, children’s health and childcare

· Wattpad - Read books & stories

· Wikipedia - Find information

Its paying off to be a subscriber nowadays hehe… Now all I need to get someone to pay for my other “eclectic” browsing needs. Mike Sonko?

An exclusive interview with OLX Kenya country manager Peter Ndiang’ui

Peter Ndiangui

Peter Ndiangui

Peter Ndiang’ui the country manager at OLX Kenya gave us an exclusive interview here at In this interview he tells us about his love of Arsenal and Gor Mahia, his wife cooking and the direction that retailin his headed to;

Where did you go to school?
I went to primary school in a small village in Tetu before joining Nyeri High school from where I proceeded to JKUAT. I then did a science masters specializing in Internet Technology in Australia which I later capped with an MBA.

You spend many years in Australia. What were you up to there? School or work?
I went to study, fell in love with the Aussie way of life and I ended up spending over 6 years on top of the 4 year study time working as a management consultant across different industries from banking, Telco to media. In total I spent 11 years in Australia.

So why did you return home?
I knew I was always going to come back. Partly because I was excited by the economic growth opportunities and the potential that this presented in making a huge difference in the continent as a whole. I remember when I did a leadership unit during my MBA and we had to layout our vision and mission, my goals crystallized around being part of a new movement of like minded Africans raised during the post-cold war narrative who new that the potential of the African continent lay within itself not from outside. And so when I was approached by the Naspers group about the opportunity to help establish and grow their online classifieds business, it was not such a hard decision to make even though my son was only 3 months old.

How was the transition back home? How has Kenya changed from when you left so long ago?
For me personally the transition was not hard because I had invested a lot of time in preparing my mind that this where I want to spend my most productive adult life. I was a frequent “summer burning” during my 11 year period in Aussie frequenting Nairobi at least every 2 years .
The fact that Kenya had changed drastically did not seem apparent to me in certain areas until I started to engage in the deep end work beyond the entertainment circus I experienced during my summer visit . The physical changes were crystal clear; I left during a period of subdued economic growth but as I looked around every area in Nairobi seemed like a construction site while internet broadband access was much cheaper than Australia.
However this was the “on the face value “ change that was noticeable; The most important change however was a little hidden and subtle to notice quickly. It was about the people; especially the young people who were may be decade younger than me. These guys had grown up in a more progressive, more democratic and with much more media freedom.
As I settled to work with them, I could sense their confidence, their ability to express themselves , their exposure and most of all the lack of historical baggage. I couldn’t fail to realize that this was the generation that was going to account for most of the economic growth in the next decade and they would be the early adopters of online services.

As the country manager of the leading online company where do you see the retail business headed to right now? What is OLX’s role in it?
If you look at the retail business globally today, you will notice that the development of the retail industry is at different stages depending on the levels of urbanization and the retail physical infrastructure that is in place. There is a common thread across all these markets however; that retail has always experienced change driven by new technologies. The most studied case is for example the development of departmental stores in the US around the rail infrastructure while discount stores took off with the development of the car industry and the road network. The mail order retail developed as the teledensity increased. And as the Internet penetration took root we saw the emergence of online retailers that started to challenge the discount retailers.
Since then, in the US, bricks and mortar retailing has been under disruption by online formats for the last 15 years. The question is how might this pan out in Kenya? Will it take the ful cycle where we see the mall culture develop first (what the popular press call formalized retail) or we will see a leapfrog where majority of retailing will happen online with less mall activity ?
I am not sure what this holds but for sure we can get some insights from the telecommunication industry development in the last 12 years in Kenya by looking at Internet access and Telephone communication
Many of us will never experience or even know how a land line phone looked like leave alone how it worked while others will never understand that there was dial-up Internet that was only accessible via a desktop computer.
So as Internet penetration grows in the country, we most likely will see the retail industry evolve a little differently from they way it evolved in the developed markets where the Omni channel culture will take root by default. Malls might develop but with a different use from the traditional malls where they will both be show rooms as well as pick up points for things ordered via the Internet. And because for a single retailer to have the depth and breadth of inventory will require massive investments, then online marketplaces will fill the gap for smaller niche retailers who might not able to develop their own stand-alone online and physical retail footprint.

You sponsor the Social Media Awards every year. Why do you feel the need to be associated with such an award ceremony?
Sponsoring SOMA awards is both out of self-interest by pampering the goose that lays the golden egg as well as a social responsibility. The users of our service are also heavy users of social media and the more we help grow a responsible Internet population the more we can drive trust in our country’s Internet economy.
Lastly, Most people learn how to use the Internet starting out from social media platforms. Encouraging usage of social media platforms where we have heavy presence helps us expand the future users of OLX.

We have seen a lot of advertising for OLX especially on TV and a lot of the people in the adverts look like actors. Do you have any real examples of people benefiting from selling OLX products?
A large number of our testimonials are real beneficiaries’ of OLX services. Today over 40 % of the people who list the items on our platform sell within the first 7 days. My family and I are voracious users of OLX for almost everyday and we get instant results. The other day I decided to sell my Camera to raise cash for my son’s birthday gift. I was selling two items; a travel bag and camcorder. Within 24 hours of putting these items up , I was inundated with e-mails and calls of people looking to purchase them. I have since sold one of the items while I decided to re-price the camcorder and get even a better deal.

Sell it!

Sell it!

On a lighter note I’ve seen many hilarious Internet memes featuring OLX selling every thing under the sun including footballers in the English Premier league. Which one has been your favourite?
There are two cases that stand out; The auctioning of the Inspector General and some cabinet ministers when Kenyans are trying to make an important statement.

So what are your allegiances? Arsenal Man United or Chelsea? Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards or Sofapaka? Real Madrid or Barcelona?

I have a deep love for soccer but unfortunately due to spending too much time down under , I never got to have a cult following in the EPL . However I am great admirer of Arsenal and Gor Mahia (from childhood) .

You have described yourself as a book lover. What are your favouite reads? Do you read any Africans?

I am addicted to books! My favourite is writer is the father od disruptive innovation, Clay Christensen, “The Innovators Dilemma” , I am a huge fan of history so am now reading “The Sourthern Kikuyu before 1903 “ by L.S.B Leakey, a fascinating account of the political, social and economic activities in Kikuyu community dating back a couple of hundred years. One key insight for me has been the fact that this community practised a capitalist economic model with clear laws in property ownership even before 18th century.

What would you say is a really good place to have a meal in Nairobi at under Kshs1,500?

Look I do not want to self-promote but my wife is such a great cook. She runs a restaurant in Kilimani known as the Urbanspoon and here I can get a sumptuous whole Tilapia for half the amount.

But to allay doubts of being selfish, there is only one place in Nairobi that I have enjoyed a pretty delicious Salmon and mashed (Orange) sweet potatoes or a really well done Pork belly, and that is at the Brew Bistro. I am not sure if the price points for these meals are within your range!

Simphiwe Dana rocks Nairobi big time

Simphiwe Dana

Simphiwe Dana

Simphiwe Dana is an amazing artist. I first encountered her at the Cape Town Jazz Festival in 2011 which I went to cover with a bunch of other arts journos. The performers were many at the place including the world famous Earth Wind and Fire.

The marquee performance over that weekend was however Dana’s as far as I was concerned. Another Kenyan journo and I were lucky enough to be introduced to her and she promised that we would be enjoying her performance. In fact in our honour, the first song would be dedicated to us she said. Queue big head on my part. True to her promise her first song was one I was familiar with; Malaika. This is that song made internationally famous by Miriam Makeba. I enjoyed her rendition of that song and waited for her other songs. I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen but when it started I was blown away. Her songs are almost a religious experience and even though I had no idea what language she was singing in that lady had people clapping and waving hands and dancing. It was off the flipping hook!

So when she came to visit our little city (Nairobi is little in relation with Johannesburg) last weekend there was no way I would miss that show. I attended her listening party on the Friday and then attended the Koroga festival on Sunday where she was the headline act.

The Koroga Festival for the uninformed is a live event which happens periodically in Nairobi city usually at the Arboretum grounds. In the recent past I believe some of the acts to have performed to include Baba Maal, Papa Wemba and someone else who escapes me right now. The event has many stands including the Otange designs, Vamos Grill which my good pal Gitau sold earlier the year and more.

The brand that was giving Nairobi folks a change to sample its product was Carlsberg, the famous beer. I had a chat with a Carlsberg representative who wanted to know what I thought of the product now that I had tasted it. I tried to be honest, it’s not the greatest beer but it’s definitely better than Guinness (I don’t really like dark beers), but I don’t think she appreciated my candid feedback. Next time I’ll just give the teenager opinion. Q; How was the beer? A: Fine. Q: Fine? As is how? A: Just fine.

As the curtain raisers performed I moved around saying hey to people Paul Munene of Quaint photography, Kitizo Makatiani who I hadn’t seen in many many moons, Augustine who I knew as manager for Fiesta back in the day, Priya Chana who is back in town after a stint in Dar and London, Kui Wanyoike over at Ogilvy and a whole host of others. It was quite a full house there.

Simphiwe's new single Firebrand

Simphiwe’s new single Firebrand

Then Simphiwe Dana got on stage and I went to listen to her set and just she rocked man. She was in a lovely tutu (Binyavanga Wainaina came through and commented, “she has a better tutu than mine.” I laughed respectfully uproariously). She went through some of her popular songs and there was singing from the crowd (there were a dozen or so South Africans dancing like crazy in there) and insisting on her to sing more. She also gave a legendary set of the Malaika song and debuted her new song Firebrand. She also did a song or two with Kenyan artist Juliani.

A brilliant afternoon was had by all.

You can check out a few images I took with my trusty phone here. You can also see some of Paul Munene’s more professional photos here.

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