Musings

Is The World’s Fascination With Africa Hypocritical?

A couple of weeks back, I happened to get into a conversation of sorts on a page I follow on Facebook centered on a certain meme. The meme in question had an individual announcing their desire to visit Africa, with the other person insisting that the individual be specific on which country in Africa, they would like to visit. Of course our opinions happened to be varied with other page mates concluding that a section of us were simply being overly sensitive.

However, I think we have very valid reasons as Africans to be skeptical about the world’s fascination with Africa. Having been categorized as a third world continent for the longest time possible in addition to getting quite negative coverage by the international media, we can’t sometimes really help wondering whether people from other parts of the world, genuinely appreciate our continent.

In certain cases, the desire by others to visit the continent has been in essence, to confirm whether Africans still lead lives as the primitive people they have since been largely branded to be. Not forgetting the fact that a majority of countries in the African continent have a dark history of colonization and therefore, are still a tad bit distrusting of the intentions of foreign visitors. Not that we feel a repeat can happen but past experiences tend to shape present perceptions.

Africa is a continent made up of several nations with very distinct cultures and ways of life but that has not stopped the rest of the world and especially the West, from failing to acknowledge this fact. Hollywood has often seemed confused and thoroughly ignorant about Africa when basing movies and shows  on the continent. It is always disconcerting for an African to watch a movie or show, that decides to mix two African languages, from two different countries and then try to pass it off as a movie set in one particular African country.

Even more upsetting is having to keep explaining yourself in a foreign country as an African, that where you come from is not plagued by war and disease. The idea that Africans still walk around naked, live in makeshift homes, possess primitive ideas and the likes, has failed to completely fade from the minds of  Westerners who seem to still feel the need to “discover” the continent.

I understand that for foreigners of African descent, their wish to visit Africa has always been to connect with their roots. For us Africans who have been born and brought up in our motherland, we may many times fail to understand this specific need.

Perhaps, we find it absurd that they would just desire to be in the continent, without being specific with which country in particular because for us who come from the continent, we can easily trace our roots. And our individual roots, happen to be centered around a particular locality and not the continent as a whole.

voiceofafrica.fm

Indeed one of the arguments that came up in the aforementioned conversation on the page, was related to this inherent need by African-Americans and people of African descent from the Caribbean, to visit the continent. However, this does not completely erase the fact that our continent happens to be the most misunderstood by many, often basing their view of the continent on hearsay.

Call it inferiority complex, sensitivity or what but Africans are increasingly getting tired of having to justify their legibility to others who are not from the same race or continent. Issues of racism and racial discrimination do not make it any easier for us. It only serves to heighten our skepticism of the world’s interest with our continent.

It should be understood that histories of oppression by others who felt superior to us, have contributed largely to Africans feeling the need to protect themselves from hypocritical intentions. We may argue that issues of xenophobia are perpetrated by Africans to fellow Africans and therefore as an African, I have no right to conclude that only those not from the continent discriminated against us and oppressed us.

Xenophobic attacks such as the ones witnessed in South Africa are deeply rooted on colonialism and the fact that Africans felt divided and denied of opportunities at that particular dark time. I’m no advocate of senseless killings neither am I trying to lay blame on the colonialists at this point in time. However, how a nation chooses to heal from past hurtful experiences, determines the way forward for the development of the nation in future.

I would like to believe that many South Africans have healed but there is still that percentage, that has not completely healed and are therefore willing to incite and attack their fellow brothers and sisters, whom they feel are taking away opportunities meant for them, the original citizens.

As a continent that is forever trying to get to the same level as other continents and many times falling short in the process, our main concern is being genuinely accepted as capable of competing on the same level as other continents. It may seem like a far fetched idea to many but past branding of the continent as incapable has contributed to our wariness. We may many times fail to understand other people’s intentions or might even be right about their hypocrisy, who knows?

The Curious Case Of Anti-Social Entertainers

If you suspect to be an anti-social entertainer, then you are probably in the wrong business and I say this with good reason.

Very recently, Nigerian musician Burna Boy suffered vicious attacks from the #KOT (Kenyans On Twitter) fraternity as well as revelers, for what they termed as a poor performance at a club in Westlands, Nairobi. Turns out that Burna Boy was only making a club appearance and not a show, but the fact that he turned up on stage at 3 am to perform for only an hour or so, thoroughly angered those who had paid to watch him perform.

The said club has since clarified and given their own version of what truly transpired. Apparently, Burna Boy had been stuck in traffic for about an hour and a half and the club’s previous decision to charge an affordable price for the tickets, had seen large numbers turn up. So the club had to be forced not to let other revelers in which of course didn’t sit well with those particular revelers. Okay, I’m really trying to understand which massive traffic was this in the early morning hours of Nairobi, that Burna Boy was stuck in, but I will keep my opinions to myself on that, this time round.

Anyways, I’m more concerned with how the musician chose to react to the situation. The heat must have been too much for him because Burna Boy ended up blocking most of his Kenyan Twitter followers and at some point mentioned angrily that Kenyans were peasants. Now, now Burna Boy, I understand that the #KOT family can be unnecessarily harsh at times and as a normal human being, it is totally in order to show negative emotion when you feel unfairly attacked. However, being an entertainer, I think you kind of have an idea what the price of fame entails.

There are people out there who will attack you for nothing or something just because they are so used to seeing your face, being in the public eye and all, and now they assume that they know you personally. How you choose to react to such kinds of scenarios speaks a lot about you as an entertainer. Are you the divalicious* entertainer whose fame has got into his head or the entertainer whose sole mission, is to deliver to his fans and understands that sometimes he can come under fire from those same fans.

In my opinion, Burna Boy falls in the former. Why in the world would he even think of calling a section of the consumers of his music, peasants, just because he felt attacked by those same consumers?? There is actually no justification for his reaction to all that hullabaloo. And if those so called consumers, were not that interested in Burna Boy as an entertainer, then they wouldn’t have turned up in large numbers, just for a club appearance of his and eventually felt offended when they felt he under delivered. Burna Boy was actually being too petty and immature as an entertainer with his reaction.

Burna Boy. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

However, it’s not the first time that a musician from a different country has shown up on our Kenyan soil and proceeded to misbehave. Yet another Nigerian musician, Davido came to Kenya sometime in 2015 and went ahead to totally act uninterested and rude on The Trend Show hosted by NTV’s Larry Madowo. He walked out before the Interview was concluded. The concert he was headlining in the country, was nothing to write home about with disappointed revelers complaining on Social media of a mediocre 30 minutes performance and an entertainer who appeared drunk.

Congolese maestro, Koffi Olomide would be another musician who would land on Kenyan soil and proceed to attack a female dancer of his at the airport, throwing a kick at her in 2016, while oblivious to the fact that it had been caught on camera. He was so confident that he was going to still perform in the country after the incident, that he appeared on Citizen TV only to be arrested soon after and was eventually deported.

So incidents of entertainers exhibiting anti-social behaviors is not entirely new to us. It is disheartening though to realize, that some of these entertainers tend to quickly forget that those same fans they have since taken to disregarding, are the ones who made them what they currently are. Those fans in turn, expect the entertainer to deliver and will not hesitate in expressing their displeasure, whenever they feel taken for granted.

Burna Boy and all those musicians who turn up in Kenya and proceed to act in unsavory ways, should know that some of those tickets to their concerts that Kenyans pay for, equal someone’s rent for a month or two. I doubt a mere peasant would afford to pay a ticket for something, akin to a club appearance from a musician who is totally convinced that his fans “owe” him for his time.

They should know that their music is given enough airplay on Kenyan radio stations sometimes at the expense of Kenyan music. That should be reason enough for them to at least show some respect to their Kenyan fans. Burna Boy should have waited for temperatures to cool down, before offering a formal statement just as any normal, wise, level headed entertainer who values his fans’ opinion of him would.

But of course in this era where vanity surpasses logic reasoning, such entertainers of the above description are becoming increasingly rare. Perhaps it is time that the Kenyan market started to look within and appreciate the talent we have in the country before looking across borders for entertainers who probably, have no interest in respecting the Kenyan market. Entertainers who selfishly pocket our money, then prance out of our country in a show of disdain and arrogance.

Are You Happy Being Single?

My tastes in men have been changing over the years.

In my late teens, I fancied any guy who had a stable job and was pursuing a Masters degree. Sounds really weird right now when I’m writing about it, that I would have wanted an already established man then, when I hadn’t even joined any higher learning institution at the time. But I did date a couple of guys in their mid twenties who had stable jobs and were pursuing Masters degrees at the time. And some broke my heart so it wasn’t smooth sailing.

In campus, I became realistic and surprisingly dated a guy in campus for well over two years. It wasn’t the all bliss kind of relationship and probably he was a wrong pick for me or I was the wrong pick for him, but we shared lots in common including having our tea sugarless. Anyway, who wasn’t dating on and off with the same guy in campus? At least our on and off thing lasted well over two years. Plus at the time, I had a thing for anyone with height and he was well over 6 ft tall. I still do, by the way. Biceps are a plus too haha!

Fast forward to the real world and after that on and off thing I had in campus, I have largely been single since then. A couple of try outs here and there, never lasted long enough to qualify as courtship and eventually, I decided to stop trying. This week, I got thinking about my single status. Am I really happy being single? Do I need someone in my life? Will I ever find that someone? Am I getting used to being single? What do I consider ideal in a man?

Happy African Couple. Image from Google

First of all, I nowadays have near zero tolerance for things I consider a waste of my time. So definitely at the moment, my decision to stay single is because I don’t want to get into something, then regret almost immediately why I got into it. I have nursed broken hearts in the past and it was never a good experience. For me, that is.

Now I admit this begrudgingly, but I’m kinda starting to get used to being single. Like I’m not attached to anyone and I can relocate to whichever country if need be and not have to worry about distance stuff and whether we’ll survive it or not. I don’t have to constantly keep contact with one particular person. I get to do my stuff and not feel like I owe someone my time. Sounds selfish I know, but if you haven’t been in any serious, lengthy relationship from mid 2014 like I have, you get used to the single life bliss. And you actually get to enjoy life just being you, interestingly. Call me out on that last fact, later.

A friend of mine recently put me on blast for fancying significantly older guys than myself. Not people’s husbands though! Don’t even start thinking on those lines. At 19, I dated a guy who was 7 years older and frankly age, doesn’t really concern me. That doesn’t mean I’ll go for an old, wrinkly guy. I never really see a 10 year age gap being a big deal. Relationships to me nowadays are more about respect, genuine support, care, getting along, sharing ideals and just enjoying being in each other’s company. If I do get that in a guy who is 12 years older, that’s fine. If I do get that in a guy who’s my age, that’s fine too.

Finding someone eventually will happen. We all know the dating advice that someone comes along when you least expect him/her to. I tend to find some truth in that. I think the best relationships started out rather randomly. You never really plan to talk to this particular guy and date him for 3, 4 years to come. Frankly, relationships I have been in that lasted really long, I never kept tabs on. It just happened and I looked back one day and realized that I had been with the same person for this length of time.

And yes, nobody should ever lie to you that it doesn’t sometimes get lonely being single. It does! I think this week has been that loneliness phase for me. We are social animals who desire to feel loved and so some days, you are reveling in your single life bliss, other days, you feel cursed for not finding the one person that makes your insides turn into jelly. Or that one person who will take you to an idyllic setting one day and look straight in your eyes while proposing.

Yes, I would love to be a wife and mum someday. That would be nice. But hey, being single does not signal the end of life plus one particularly positive thing I have learnt while single, is that you can only give love to another when you finally understand what kind of love to give to yourself.

I would love to hear your single life experiences if any. Do you feel left out in the dating scene sometimes? Has it been hard finding someone that you click with? Share below.

 

 

The Things I Hate About The Monthly Period

Image sourced from Face2face Africa

Image sourced from Face2face Africa

When the ladies from Always started coming to our school back in primary school, I knew they had seen the need to educate us 10 year old girls about menstruation. My mum had mentioned a few things in passing to me before. But the Always ladies had a lot to tell us about the period, how to use the sanitary pads and how to use the sanitary buckets for disposal and for once, the boys were not allowed in our talks.

In a way, it made us feel important having people coming to exclusively talk to the girls at school. Little did we understand then, about the real horrors of the monthly period because 3/4 of us hadn’t started having them. Recently, one of the bloggers I follow, girlwiththafro, decided to talk about the period and I couldn’t help get amused for I could so relate.

Other than being reminded monthly why I’m a female, there are things I really hate about the period. So here goes;

1. Period Cramps

I’m one of those unlucky women who cramp like they are giving birth on most monthly periods. I don’t usually walk around with a grimace on my face on those days, but I kind of grimace inwardly each time I’m hurting. I’ve had my cramp moments that unintentionally drew attention to the people around me or made me lose things.

One time in high school, I was cramping like they had been paid to torture me and I had to put a straight face and get through the day, even though I just felt like lying down and doing nothing. I had a set book with me that day. The ones you read and are supposed to decipher hidden meanings that will be examined in your English literature exam. Those books were hot cakes back then and got stolen at any given careless moment. In my turmoil, I stood up from the dining hall table and left the book lying there in full view of merciless thieves. And that’s how I lost the book and had to pay for it after high school.

Another cramp moment happened one really cold July morning. So I’m tossing and turning in bed and a male cousin of mine, walked in and asked with concern written all over his face if I was okay. Of course I wasn’t and I had to tell him why. The horrified look on his face clearly said how much he thanked the gods for being born a boy. And he was understanding enough to send a female friend of his to the chemist to get me painkillers. Thank God for family.

On a Sunday when I wouldn’t let anything get in my way of experiencing the Holy Spirit including the godamn cramps I was having, I literally dragged myself to church. Only to end up sitting through most of the service and wondering why I even showed up in the first place. As soon as service was done, I perservered till I got to town and walked right into the first chemist I saw.

On most of those days, it’s usually a guy who serves you coincidentally and when you ask for Buscopan plus tabs, they just know what’s really up with you. But I must commend these chemist male employees for being so kind and understanding and inquiring if you need water to take the tabs. Of course yes, you need water to rid yourself off these pains!!!

2. Sleeping at night

Forget that Always advert when the lady turns in bed in silky white pyjamas and wakes up like an angel, yawning like she has just been cast in a princess movie. We don’t sleep like that on those days!!! You might be wearing the longest, absorbent, breathable pad in this world with additional reinforcements, but you will still be cautious at night. You will end up sleeping on one side till morning and have to wake up in the middle of the night just to check yourself or possibly change a pad. Those days are when you don’t even want to be sharing a bed with a man.

Your girlfriends who know you are on your Ps and have just received a sleepover invite from a boyfriend will probably gasp, “Are you going to a guy’s house on your Ps??!!” They are not jealous. They simply understand the struggle too well and the horror of staining someone else’s sheets and especially a man’s, with an elaborate, red robot pattern.

3. Mood Swings

Ever wondered why you seem to hate everybody around you and make additional enemies during your monthly period? Mood Swings!! Those are the days you will literally be snarling at your boss in your heart (because you value your job and your face cannot allow you to snarl openly at him/her) and wondering when it will get to 5 o’clock and you can go home and break some cups and plates to vent.

For some reason, those existing problems you had that you had decided to face with optimism will seem literally magnified on those days. Please do not make rush decisions in this state! It’s just the hormones acting up and the period. It shall pass.

Of course we really hate men asking if it’s that time of the month when we are fussing over petty issues and throwing an epic tantrum, but sometimes, it’s really it. But we are women. We are supposed to know how to handle this, without someone having to remind us how entirely powerless we are with controlling the mood swings, at this time.

4. Not trusting white bottoms and dresses

I never trust any white bottoms or dresses at this time even if Jennifer Lopez’s stylist insisted. What if something leaks? What if I’m strutting around unknowingly, with an obvious red patch on my behind. No, no. No White.

One of my female cousins saw a woman in white bottoms, bent over mtumba (second hand clothes) on a crowded street in town with a small telltale red dot on her bottom. Needless to say, she didn’t even know how to tell the woman without causing her untold embarrassment. I mean, where do you hide in such a situation?

I saw enough girls get laughed and snickered at by both boys and girls in school, when they stained their school tunics on their very first period, to even effectively explain the kind of embarrassment, a grown woman can feel for staining her clothes. Thank God, my very first started at home. And so painfully, my cousin chose to keep quiet.

So, what do you personally hate about the monthly period? Share below.

The Sham That Is KooKoo Inn

Image Sourced from Instagram

Image Sourced from Google

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are the author’s communicating her personal dissatisfaction with the stated show.

When I first happened to chance on the advert on Maisha Magic East Africa, that a new program with the interesting name, Kookoo Inn, will start airing soon, I was elated. Elated because I have been to Kenchics in town and I knew that such a storyline had a lot that would be interesting. Nobody had thought about the concept, of focusing solely on a fast food restaurant as a TV production in my country in the past, if my memory served me right. So I assumed that this one would be fresh and funny.

I happened to watch the first episode and I must say my hopes were thoroughly crashed. The preceeding episodes that I managed to glance at, did little to change my already distorted perception. Quite a number of Kenyan TV productions have dissapointed in the past. There also seems to be an overflow of Philippines, Mexican and Brazilian Soaps on air, no wonder the milennials increasingly preferring to watch Western shows on their DVDs and Laptops.

Not to mean that we have a shortage of superb actors and actresses in our country. What I mean is that sometimes the scriptwriters of some of these Kenyan shows start with a punch and end with a fall along the way. The poor scriptwriting only serving a great job of shortchanging the actors’ and actresses’ talent.

Now I will tell you what is thoroughly wrong with KooKoo Inn. In a bid to make the show crazily funny, whoever is writing the script and producing the show, only managed to give a dumb comedy effect. Let’s talk a littel about Auntie Boss, yet another Kenyan production that has surprisingly managed to keep afloat in the entertaining aspect.

I’m an avid fan of Auntie Boss and that’s because what the scriptwriters and producers thought was funny and relatable to Kenyan life, actually came out funny in reality without degrading the cast. Save for a few instances when the jokes weren’t really funny. Quite few, I must add for emphasis. I rarely notice that there’s always an addition of new cast members, because the original ones who have stuck enough in the said show, are real comics themselves.

Image Sourced from Google

Image Sourced from Google

‘Nuf said about Auntie Boss. I think the producer of KooKoo Inn wanted the Jim Carrey kind of crazy effect in the show, but failed to conceptualize that crazy funny, can be a bit dicey sometimes and may end up coming out as kindergarten funny. I have never been a fan of Jim Carrey movies in my adulthood.

Simply because his kind of funny began sounding like the funny that a 3 or 4 or 5 year old would watch and erupt in guffaws. That was his area of specialization that worked pretty well for him in Hollywood. But there is the Robin Williams funny, God rest his soul, Eddie Murphy funny, that is still crazy funny but manages to tickle even an adult. I don’t know if that sentence makes sense even but that was the best way I could put it.

The cast of KooKoo Inn surprisingly is a highly talented one, that I have seen their awesome talent in other Kenyan shows that let that particular talent shine. However, I don’t especially find a grown man who supposedly owns a fast food restaurant playing with a water gun, funny at all. Neither do I find grown ass people goofing around like toddlers interesting. Whoever came up with this show’s concept, failed to capture what is relatable to Kenyans about it and actually make it come out funny.

It is kind of an insult to our comedy industry that is thriving and has been for a long while. And if anyone related to that show’s production might read this, take this as constructive criticism from a consumer who feels that, there is so much you can do to improve on the comedic effect.

The Desperation Of A Job Seeking Kenyan Is All Too Real

So you are a young Kenyan of about 25, 26,27 years of age. You’ve just graduated from campus perhaps with a 1st class honors in a degree course, everyone told you was marketable back then when you were campus hunting. Or probably your parents could not afford the degree courses fee and opted to enroll you in a college to pursue a diploma or certificate course.

Or maybe you are that young Kenyan who falls in the category of campus or college dropout. Financial constraints often being the reason for your dropping out. Or in certain circumstances, you just didn’t feel your heart was there and chose to pursue your God given talents. Either way, you are still a 25, 26, 27 year old Kenyan who may just be, currently job seeking.

Image Courtesy of Job Finder

Image Courtesy of Job Finder

It’s a cruel world out here for job seekers, so you will quickly discover. Your parents or guardians who had previously catered for your pocket money needs, will probably cease giving you any money. Their argument often bordering on the fact that you are living and eating at home so you are comfortable and do not need extra cash.

They may not be out to spite you, but it will soon start feeling like it’s spiteful, when you realize that you have to actually explain what that 500 shs you are asking them to lend you, is for. And when you really want to buy something that is really important to you, but you just don’t have enough money for it, you will truly learn the essence of humbling thyself.

Thinking about student loans that need to start being cleared, will only give you ulcers. This is the time, you will begin to value being single, just to avoid extra stress from nagging boyfriends and girlfriends. Who wants to die early?

As you patiently (or impatiently) await any response from the various organisations you have applied for job vacancies, there will come offers from concerned relatives to take up that promotion job. The one where you have to wear that branded T-shirt and stand in supermarket allies, convincing unconcerned shoppers to try this new soap and get a toothbrush for free.

With your first class honors in a serious degree course, you will wonder silently, whether this relative is simply making fun of your unemployed situation by suggesting such or if they are the ones behind your downfall. Fret not, this is one of the realities you are going to face when you are right in the middle of your job seeking journey. Coupled with the regret mails that you will occasionally get, you might start wondering whether that generational curse thing was actually real.

At a time when most 25,26,27 year olds are actively job seeking with not much success, suggestions to attend primary, high school and what not reunions will start coming up in WhatsApp groups, where you have mostly been a silent follower. Judging from the Instagram and Facebook pics you have been seeing of your peers, you will start to believe that probably you are at the lowest of the success tier.

Your inferiority complex will go into overdrive and you may feign an excuse of working on the said reunion date just to avoid showing up. In reality, you will spend the entire day watching a repeat of the Being Mary Jane series you bought last year, with that annoying lump in your throat literally choking the breath out of you.

When the impatience gets the better of you, you will resort to hand dropping hard copies of your CV and testimonials, in those organisations where you think your kind of qualifications are needed. There you will encounter menacing security guards, who will intimidate you with meaningless interrogations, of your intentions to access the reception area. You will end up feeling like a criminal rather than a law abiding, job seeking citizen.

Finally, they might end up denying you access and have you unwillingly, leave your documents with them all the while knowing that, the documents may never land at the reception or HR office. The complete work of the devil, you will be tempted to conclude.

As you traverse the city or town in your job seeking efforts, you may probably encounter Network Marketers. These ones target the hapless job seekers with claims of making big bucks in a month’s period. By now the desperation is all too real for you and you may lack the energy to resist such kinds of business opportunities’ tutorials.

Google Images

Google Images

Your eyes probably too big to hide your anticipation for better days, they will let it drop how last month they had flown out of the country all charges paid, as an incentive by the Network Marketing company they are in. By now, they can actually see you salivating for the luxurious lifestyle. So they will proceed to let you know that with your qualifications and attributes, you can become a millionaire in a year’s period.

As you break into a wide grin that can barely be hidden and actually feels dumb, they will carry on telling you how you will never need to be under anyone and that you are now your own boss. By the time they get to the flexible working hours, judging by how much it is a struggle for you to get up in the morning, you are completely sold.

You will find yourself attending business opportunity trainings only to realize that in your unemployed state, you can barely afford the exorbitant cost of the starter kit. Asking a friend to lend you the money is inconceivable. Asking your parent or guardian to help you with the starter kit fee is even worse. So you will eventually resign yourself to your job seeking fate.

Eventually, the job interviews will start coming, one after the other. You may face stone faced panels that are not easily convinced and end up blabbering incomprehensible answers to their questions in your nervous state. They may right you off for being unsure of your credentials. The stab of rejection will cause you to self train yourself on your communication skills. You will then realize that with each passing interview, you are getting better and better.

The job hunting journey might as well be coming to an end.

The Bongo Phenomenon: Alikiba and Diamond Platinumz

I was born into a fairly small family. The second and last born of two daughters with a 9 year age gap between us siblings. Which meant that most of the time, my elder sister was away at school while I remained behind. To while away the time, I began developing an interest in music at a young age.

My tastes in music were influenced by my sister who had been a huge fan of the 90s RnB hits from the US and my parent’s love for Rhumba and Soukous. Mum and dad would sometimes listen to loud Rhumba and Soukous music from the DRC on those weekends when they were both home. For a long time, the Kenyan market consumed the RnB hits from the US, before we decided to begin appreciating our Kenyan artistes and playing more and more of their music.

By the age of 10, I knew most of the 90s RnB thanks to my sister by heart, in addition to the new pop ones that came out. I couldn’t quite sing the Rhumba because most of it was in Lingala with a mix of French which I didn’t speak then. But I could identify the ones I liked at that age. I remember my mum once wondering aloud, where I had learnt the music lyrics to many of the songs I sang along to. As you can tell by now, I was gifted in something else (writing), but listening to music was more of a favorite hobby and still is.

Sometime in 2002, Kenyans started being introduced to a lot of Bongo Flava from our neighboring country, Tanzania. At the time, I listened to the likes of TID, Professor Jay, Mr. Nice, Lady Jaydee, Matonya… It was a fresh kind of music that these Tanzanians crooned in the most fluent Kiswahili. It also proved to many, that you could pass strong messages through music. Like I previously mentioned, it took a long time before we began appreciating our own Kenyan artistes. So for a while, Bongo Flava ruled the airwaves together with foreign artistes from the West.

Alikiba and Diamond Platinumz would come a bit later into the Bongo Flava music scene. By then, I was a high school kid and by my estimation, I think these two guys began making hits at about the same time or slightly later for the younger, Diamond. Over time, Alikiba and the then Diamond, who had began with humble music videos, have evolved into two major acts not only in East Africa, but the rest of Africa as well.

Tanzanian Crooner Alikiba. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Tanzanian Crooner Alikiba. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

I remember us being introduced to a young Ali Kiba singing the single, Cinderella back then. He was a pretty simple guy obviously trying to make it in music.

He would later on go on to produce a few more hit singles before disappearing for a while from the music scene altogether. When he next showed up, it was obvious that Alikiba was a changed man!

In came a polished, more sculpted Ali Kiba, with high quality music videos and even greater music. It wasn’t long before I decided that I really liked Ali Kiba as a musician. I mean, it was hard not to miss those abs in his music videos. His voice was equally a component of his music that I admired. Being signed to Sony Music Entertainment Africa eventually, went a long way in elevating Ali Kiba’s career.

As for the then Diamond, I remember him for Mbagala. It was the first song that introduced me, in particular, to this guy.

Tanzanian Crooner, Diamond Platinumz. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Tanzanian Crooner, Diamond Platinumz. Photo Courtesy of Google Images

He seemed like just a normal next door guy and I didn’t really like his choice of shooting the song’s video, in the middle of an obvious rubbish dump. He looked nothing then like the polished Diamond Platinumz of today. But like Ali Kiba, he possessed the most beautiful of voices, a bit more mellow than the former’s and it wasn’t long before Kenyans took notice.

I once walked into our hostel’s kitchen while in campus, to find one of the lady caretakers who was an elderly woman,watching one of Diamond’s music videos with a mesmerized look on her face. She quickly pointed out to me that she liked the guy and how he sang. Recently, my own mum would seem highly interested in the Salome hit remake of Diamond’s featuring Rayvanny. She went on to ask me incredulously, how I could miss that beautiful voice.

Indeed, Alikiba and Diamond are the kind of crooners, who can reach all age groups with their music. However, in recent times, Diamond Platinumz is touted as the biggest act of the two.

Going by his personal life, he has got a pretty socialite and savvy businesswoman who is older than him in his life and who has already borne him two children. Plus his PR Team seem to really know what they are doing. Definitely, these things have kept him relevant in addition to his consistency, collabos with numerous African artistes and obvious talent.

There equally happens to be a rivalry feud between Diamond Platinumz and Ali Kiba in the Tanzanian music scene. Some of these feuds in the music industry according to my reasoning, are fueled by the comparison fact and especially if you are in the same genre of music.

Diamond and Ali Kiba happen to be two music artistes who have constantly been compared to each other. For sometime in the past, Ali Kiba did not seem to be getting it right but Diamond was the quicker of the two in revamping his image. Plus these guys were a kind of representation of the Bongo Flava evolvement. If TID had still been active in the music scene he could as well have been compared to Diamond and Alikiba. It is something that sadly, the two have none been the wiser on how to handle.

However, the direction that Ali Kiba’s music has since taken in recent times, was pretty smart on his part. I also consider the consistency of these two guys to be amazing. It’s something any aspiring musician can look up to and try to emulate.

We Need More Positive African Stories

I’m becoming addicted to watching  CNN. Nowadays, American politics, the war in Syria (as if that’s not depressing enough) and small bits of pieces of News from Europe dominate the channel. A couple of nights back, I was watching the African Voices segment on it and it was refreshing to see Africa painted in a positive light.

There was this Rwandese guy who is a designer and designs really cool, African print bowties among other items of clothing. We saw him drive to the market to buy vitenges(African print material/African batik fabric), visit the barber shop to trim his Patrice Lumumba inspired look and go for a morning walk. And I was happy that the world was seeing a different side of Africa. Not the usual depressing news of war, starvation, terrorist attacks,  political coups, poverty, retrogressive cultures, illetracy and what nots.

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

That’s not all Africa is made up of. The negatives and unprogressive life. I know by now that the Middle East is starting to get pretty tired of all that negative reporting of the continent. The African continent equally got so tired of it a long time ago, that an African would not hesitate telling off a foreigner, who still views the continent through the misguided lense of the Western media. And I think CNN is starting to move away from the stereotypes and depressing stories of Africa. Kudos to them!

There is alot about Africa that the world needs to know. It really irritates me when I encounter individuals on Facebook groups, who still think that Africa is lagging behind in the 20th century, when the rest of the world is so 21st century. You need to open up your eyes to what this continent has to offer, other than what you have over time believed is the real thing.

A lot of foreign news reporters will mostly visit the marginalized areas of Africa or the slum areas or conflict areas and do stories about those. Their intentions may indeed be pure as they would like to bring these issues to the world’s attention. However, most of the time, these kinds of stories only serve to mislead the recipients, who may lack the zeal to dig deeper about the African way of life.

Africa is a progressive continent. There are developed urban areas, improved infrastructure, up to date technologies, learned individuals, talented individuals, exposed individuals. It’s not all about animals and living on trees wearing nothing but a flap of skin to preserve our modesty. As a matter of fact, I believe some of the well dressed individuals come from Africa.

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

What many people from the West may not know is that aside from the Maasai culture in Kenya, there are more than 10 other different cultures from the 43 different Kenyan tribes.

For the longest time possible, Western media really concentrated on the Maasai community. And with good reason, don’t get me wrong! This is one of the communities in Kenya and Tanzania that has upheld most of its original cultural practices pre-colonial times. It is a rich culture that tends to fascinate the West and people not from the two countries.

However, it would surprise many that other communities in Kenya despite the Western influence in their way of life, still carry out their respective cultural practices to date. Take this personal encounter, for example. I’m sometimes a storyteller, so bear with me on this.

A friend of a friend was getting married sometime in 2013. So as is synonymous with my country, we do a traditional wedding first before the White church wedding that is Western influenced.

Internet Sources

Internet Sources

I happened to tag along. Now in her community, the girls have to be covered from head to toe in two pieces of a lesso (wrapper) for the hubby-to-be to identify who his wife-to-be is. In our midst, there were two girls who had the same skin tone and similar looking feet.

One was of course the lady getting married. And we had this hilarious moment, advising her to tie a colored band on one of her toes and alert her fiance about it via text, before we came out so that he doesn’t get confused and fined, for picking the wrong girl.

So the older women covered us up, all girls about the same height in the lessos and we were guided outside where the ceremony was taking place. Believe it or not, the hubby-to-be seemed a little confused and nearly chose the girl with feet that resembled his wife-to-be, despite the colored band he had been alerted to earlier missing on the girl’s toes.

I mean, these are some of the cultural practices from other communities in Africa, that the Western media can do stories on other than the usual. Just to show how over time the African culture has blended in with the Western culture.

If you thought illetracy ruled the African continent, you should take a look at the highly talented graduates, from many of our universities. People who come out of campus not with a job mentality but a vision to be self employed and despite whatever financial constraints they may face, strive to achieve their goals. And many times, if they are committed enough to their dream, their efforts pay off.

We do appreciate the genuine curiosity of foreigners who would love to truly know about our continent. But just don’t lump me in the athletics team in campus overseas, just because you assume being a Kenyan, I can automatically run. Not all of us Kenyans have the ability to do long distance running and that’s because we are equipped and talented differently. We possess a diversity.

Being from the African continent and proudly so, I would advice anyone seeking to do an African story to intergrate himself or herself with the African society. Visit the developed areas, watch how the African carries his/her day to day activities and trust me, despite what we may face as a 3rd world continent, you are going to get beautiful, positive stories to tell the world about us.

The Kenyan-Indian Connection

Nairobi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta after their press statements at State House in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday. PTI Photo by Kamal Singh (PTI7_11_2016_000128B)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta after their press statements at State House in Nairobi, during the PM’s visit to Kenya. PTI Photo by Kamal Singh

The day before yesterday therebout, I chanced upon a post by a local media station on Facebook, claiming that the Kenyan-Indians had requested to be recognized as the 44th tribe of Kenya. So I was curious to read the comments and the vitriol that spewed from Kenyans could not be masked in the comment section. I’m not sure if the Indians among us read those comments and what they felt about it.

As I have already mentioned before on my blog for the sake of my foreign readers, the Indian community came to Kenya in the 1890s to aid in the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway. Many opted to stay and bring their families after it was completed. So when we are talking about the Asian community, as we like to refer to them in Kenya, we are talking about 3rd and 4th generation Indians who only know of Kenya as their home.

It may surprise you though, that the Kenyan-Indians upheld their culture and still practice many if not all, of their Indian cultural practices to date. It may surprise you further, that many Kenyan-Indians have chosen to get married to their fellow Indians and stick to their close knit way of life. To the other Kenyans, this tends to come off as snobbish and probably racist?

It’s not something we openly talk about but when given a chance, Kenyans can really talk ill about the Asian community. This was evident in the many comments I scrolled through on the Facebook post. Many of the bitter complaints arising from the kind of treatment metted unto them while working for Indian bosses, who have a reputation of being hard to please and too harsh for their liking.

In essence, I think Kenyans would really appreciate it if their Indian brothers and sisters chose to intergrate with them. I also think that the foreign culture of Indians in general greatly confuses them. It is a culture that is rich and Kenyans would love to understand it but fail miserably at it, with the level of silent suspiscion between the two groups that simmers just beneath the surface.

My childhood best friend in the 8 years of primary school happened to be a Kenyan-Indian. I have equally worked for an Indian boss. Therefore, when I talk about the Asian community, it’s not out of bitterness or a need for vindication. It’s basically to bring issues to the fore, that have for a long time been swept under the carpet yet they affect our Kenyan society.

Trust me, there are many Kenyans of African descent who have worked for Indian companies and bosses and have a long list of complaints regarding unfair treatment. But why is this so? Methinks colonialism and ancient Indian culture played a huge role in contributing to this kind of sour relationship between the Kenyans and Kenyan-Indians.

During colonial times, of course the Black Africans were at the lowest on the tier. As a result of their skin color and culture considered primitive by the colonialists who had their own hidden agendas, the Black Africans were looked down upon and suffered many injustices as a result.

The Indians were of course lighter with silky hair and therefore not really prejudiced against as much as the Black Africans were. They were of course not considered to be of the same level as the European colonialists, but they were placed somewhere in the middle, above the Black Africans.

It should also be noted that the Indian coolies who came to offer labor in building the railway line, landed in Kenya at a time when colonialism was just taking root. Coupled with their ancient caste system that grouped individuals in society according to their social standing, it was inevitable really for the Indians not to look down upon the Black Africans.

By Independence, the enterprising Kenyan-Indians already had a presence in many economic spheres. Not so for the Black Africans in Kenya who had been long suppressed by the colonial system. Indeed one of the first president’s agendas was to eradicate illetracy among mainly the Black African community.

It is however unfortunate that the preceeding generations of the Asian community in Kenya, held on to what their forefathers believed in and passed it down to their own children. The Indians chose to stick to the familiar thus limiting their interaction with the other Kenyans in society.

At my time in primary school, I would still see Indian kids from different classes, opting to form a large group of friends despite their age differences. The memory is still vivid in my mind when my Indian friend once tried to include me in one of these groups.

One Asian girl in particular, carried on speaking in Gujarati despite my apparent lack of understanding and my friend’s obvious struggle in communicating back in the same language, thus opting to reply in English. It was the last I would agree to tag along. However, there were and are still those Kenyan-Indians, who do not mind interacting with the Black Africans as was evidenced by my friend back then.

I think the thing that irks many Kenyans the most though, is the fact that we have heard of stories where if an Asian got married to an African, he/she would be considered an outcast by his/her family. This was quite evident in the My Bukusu Darling saga, where an Indian girl in Western Kenya fell in love with her father’s employee, an African and moved in with him.

It was evident that her parents did not agree nor approve of it and many Kenyans doubted the union would last. It is not everyday we get to see an Indian marrying a Kenyan of African descent. True to the majority’s doubts, the union between these two individuals did not successfully weather the family storm. Quite soon enough, the marriage broke.

This and many other misplaced beliefs between the two groups is what makes genuine interaction nearly impossible. Over time, Kenyans have equally developed an attitude toward the Asians, that further hampers hopes of the two groups integrating.

When a Kenyan walks into an Asian owned business/company as an employee with a set mentality that he/she will be mistreated, then justified acts of sternness by the Asians present, will be interprated as acts of cruelty. It is what fuels the constant whines and complaints about difficult Asian bosses and causes others to steer clear of the Kenyan-Indians.

As for the Kenyan-Indians, the mentality that an African cannot be trusted to do a good job, be a good friend or an upright individual, is what creates that level of suspiscion that you can almost feel, when sometimes interacting with an Indian. The superiority complex that still makes a section of Kenyan-Indians, to view themselves as better and of a higher social standing than the Kenyans of African descent further stretches the divide.

The Indians in our midst are an enterprising lot that have greatly contributed to the Kenyan economy. However, some of these backward mentalities, religious and social stances that we stubbornly hold on to, are what makes Kenyans be wary of the Kenyan-Indians and harshly criticize their suggestion of being recognized as a tribe.

Emerging Cultic Tendencies In The 21st Century World

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are the author’s and are not intended to attack a particular society or group.

So we are getting closer and closer to the end of 2016. New year resolutions are already in the making and goals that were not achieved in 2016 are now in the bucket list for 2017. As we draw closer to the finish line that is this year, I decided to take a look at some of the Cultic tendencies that have over time invaded our society. Some, you will realize, have equally been evident in the past century so it’s nothing totally new, simply more pronounced in the current century and Kenyan society, to be more specific.

So what are these emerging cultic tendencies I want to address, I hear you ask?

RELIGION

Over time, religion has been the most misunderstood aspect in society. And while the intentions of religion have always been to provide a spiritual guidance to the masses in their daily living, scripture has often times been taken out of context therefore, paving the way for a misguided cultic way of handling religion. The fact that many more individuals are enduring sufferings of every manner and are in dire need of a miracle, cultic leaders have had a field day recruiting vulnerable members into their fold.

And while in the previous century, cults had distinct ways of living and dressing that separated them from the masses and made it easier to identify them, in this century, cults have taken up a different form where they are not easily identifiable. As a matter of fact, many more people are joining cults without even realizing that they are in cults. Religious cults have since morphed into movements that are appealing to the masses and are not overly direct in their approach of recruiting. Threats to members having a desire to leave a cult are no longer issued, since the cult leaders have perfected the art of ensnarement that often is psychological.

Logical reasoning is often shunned by members who are unlucky enough to unknowingly find themselves in religious cults. Other people not subscribing to their misguided doctrine are often associated with being of the devil or lost. Indeed, the daily cropping up of churches and religious leaders purporting to possess divine powers in our Kenyan society and a hunger for a religious miracle in the lives of the masses, does little to help with this emergence of religious cultic tendencies.

As a result of their emotional nature, women have been targetted by religious cults. Innocent lives have been lost at the hands of extremists who interpret religion differenty from the rest. Young jobless men have ended up recruited into extremist groups. In the 21st century, the most distinct hallmarks of religious cults has been extremist views,that are often detrimental to society at large not only the members.

NETWORK MARKETING COMPANIES

Our Kenyan society is currently bombarded by offers to make that extra income in Network Marketing Companies. Personally, I have been involved with a Network Marketing Company whose only purpose in my life was seemingly, to drain me off the little finances I had.

I will not say that Network Marketing Companies are scams since I have witnessed individuals who actually make money in those companies and ultimately improve their lives, never to need formal employment. Plus the company I was in was pretty solid. So it’s not all doom and gloom in Network Marketing at least for the 1% who succeed in it. According to statistics, 99% of the people who join Network Marketing Companies fail.

However, during my stay in a Network Marketing Company, I noticed a cultic tendency among a majority of the Network Marketers. The fact that I found myself having to talk about what I do from day break to night fall in a bid to make a sale or recruit members into this “amazing” opportunity did not quite sit well with me. I made friends with a guy who never seemed to want to talk about anything else except the Network Marketing Company we were in.

When it became clearly evident to me that I wasn’t making any money, I started poring over the good and ugly information on Network Marketing. I also subsequently realized that none of the Network Marketers looked at the other side of the coin. They will mostly dwell on the positives and never on the negatives which is great for knowledge and self improvement purposes, so I thought. Needless to say, it was hard for me to walk away from Network Marketing since the message being preached was that “employment was enslavement”.

But when I finally did, I knew I was never going back. Some of the cultic tendencies of Network Marketing Companies I identified, is the constant desire to talk about one’s achievement despite a majority, actually struggling in the business. Again, logic reasoning is shunned. Walking out of a Network Marketing company is often associated with failure on the person’s part. Formal employment is given this ugly face.

Nobody forces you to join a Network Marketing Company so the choice remains the individual’s and if you believe it can work for you.

CELEBRITY LIVES

Sometime this year, Beyonce was performing on stage and got a slight injury. I was appalled to read on the internet that several of her fans equally cut themselves in solidarity with the singer. Sometime back, Enrique Iglesias injured his fingers while on stage performing and he didn’t quite get the same reaction from fans of showing solidarity to that extent, save for the messages of goodwill. And by the way, I’m equally a fan of Enrique.

I guess it all depends on the kind of pull a certain celebrity has to his/her fans. Now I have nothing against any celebrity in particular but in the 21st century, we have witnessed more and more of a cult-like following of celebrities. Never mind that some are not very good role models to the people looking up to them.

I have personally watched on TV, individuals who decide to go under the surgeon’s knife just to get that Michael Jackson look or Marylyn Monroe look or Spiderman look. We follow up on the lives of these celebrities and try to emulate what they do so as to be more in tune with them, or so. In reality, these individuals are just like us. The only difference between us and them is the fact that they are in the public eye and adored by many.

Terms like Beyhive (Beyonce’s fans) or Beliebers (Justin Bieber fans) and the likes are not going to end soon seeing that most of these fans take it a little too seriously than expected. Reality shows presenting a near perfect life of celebrities are just another channel of promoting the cultic following of many celebrities by clueless, wannabe, normal people.