Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Vitambi - Kenrazy Makes a Comback in Style

On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 it was a rainy day in Nairobi. The streets were flooded and Thika Road Highway looked like the residents would need life jackets. I walked hurriedly in the rain as my shoes sloshed along and the bottoms of my slacks became wet from the puddles.

I had been invited to attend the launch of Kenrazy’s new single, Vitambi. I hoped that this wasn’t just another music album that would hit the shelves and then disappear into the noise of the thousands of songs that come and go. My steps quickened as a boom of thunder shattered the sky. Kinrazy’s new single marked the reunion of a relationship between Grandpa Records, the largest music label in East Africa and Kinrazy himself.
When I arrived at the venue the air was full of expectancy as journalists, photographers, dancers and fans filled the location. DNA was the MC for the evening and after making a formal introduction he introduced the artist of the hour to describe his music journey and music style. Kinrazy spoke of the versatility of his music, his pride in his country and the need for Kenyan artists to be original in their sound.
At a time when many Kenyan artists find comfort in copying popular culture from the West, it was a breath of fresh air to hear Kenrazy calling for artists to incorporate their own ethnic backrounds into their music style. I wish Kenrazy well as he makes a comeback to the music scene and hope that he will lead the way for other artists in uniqueness and versatility.
What do you think of Vitambi? Watch the video here and share your views in the comment section below.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


I’ve been reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's latest book entitled, Americanah. While reveling in the similar ways that I experienced America coming from Bermuda and the opposite cross-culture shock of experiencing Kenya I felt inspired to blog my own version which I will call Africanah.
         This month marks two years of living in Kenya for me. They say that it takes at least two years to get over experiencing culture shock before one can truly begin to enjoy the new location. Like the opposite of Ifemelu in Adiche's Americanah , I’ve gotten used to saying, “Sorry” to someone after they've tripped over a crack in the sidewalk or if something bad has happened to them. I’ve grown to understand that when someone doesn’t call you back it actually means, “No” but not wanting to disappoint you, the person would rather let you figure out the meaning of the subliminal silence on your own. If anyone wants to know by the way, I STILL GET DISAPOINTED!

I’ve also discovered that my English accent is what separates me in the eyes of Kenyans from being truly African but simultaneously grants me a privilege that I did not have living in my own country. “You have the right accent” someone once told me. I think back to the many times I called a business to make an inquiry back home in Bermuda and realized that the person on the other end could hear my slurred, Bermudian tongue and knew that I did not have “the right accent.”

In Kenya I have “good hair”- must be mixed with some muzungu. In Bermuda my hair is picky, knotty, can’t get a comb through it, needs a good conditioner, will only grow if you lock it.

From afar I look at Bermudian politics as a plethora of cloudy philosophies and repeated points in history rather than current happenings. I observe food programmes and religious charities as a mockery of developing nations. I prefer benevolent dictatorship to fascism disguised as democracy. I’ve decided that the tribalism in my own country may be more lethal than the tribalism expressed here in Kenya except that Bermudian tribalism is a slow-killing poison that will subdue and silence the lesser before it kills.

I’ve concluded that it will be at least 50 years before being a hippie, hipster or hobo is fashionable in Kenya. To be retro is now and to be postmodern is to be lost.

While I live trying to prove how African I really am; “We eat cassava and dance to Soca which sounds like Lingala or Luo Benga,” upscale Kenyans live trying to prove how Western they are; “We eat red jelly like the British do and only wear European-brand clothes.” The Africanah becomes caricatured into Shaka Zulu turned Kunta Kinte while the Kenyan caricatures him or herself into a bedazzled version of Queen Elizabeth.

I’ve come to embrace wide skies and yellow Acacia trees even though I miss palm trees- especially ones covered with Christmas lights. I am a real Africanah now. But somehow I feel like I always was.