Monthly Archives: March 2012

Elani at Choices

I love Elani and make it a point to attend most of their gigs. This past Thursday found me at Choices enjoying an evening of Elani music courtesy of Roots International.

I had spent the evening in Hurlingham and getting from there to Baricho Road via public means proved to be quite an adventure. I almost acted out lost in the city but I finally figured out how to connect and get to Baricho Road without getting to town.

It has been ages since I stepped into Choices or as it was popularly known KaChoi. There was a time when this pub was the king of Nairobi’s rave scene. Suffice it to say, that time has passed. I discovered that Choices has aged gracefully and there was a decent crowd of yuppies for whom I guess it’s their local.

After I snagged myself a great seat which afforded me a three-way view of the stage, the entrance and the crowd I chatted up Abdi Rashid who is the man behind Roots International as I checked out the ladies who were running a Barcadi Breezer promotion. They certainly looked hot in their slinky red mini dresses.

Elani got on stage and it was interesting observing them working to win the crowd who clearly had no clue who they were and who had other plans for the evening. After a shaky start, the trio finally got their groove and rocked!

The songs that jazzed me were Milele which is a wonderful love ballad, Hatua which extols the youth to take action and which they performed as an tongue-in-cheek audition for Shuga 3, Peperuka which is a soulful song that talks of losing a loved one and to close the first set was Mahindi.

During their break I chatted with Wambui Ngugi, one third of the Elani trio and she gave me a heads up on what Elani have been up to since I last chatted with THEM.

They are now signed up to Penya Africa and they are currently putting final touches on their much awaited album. Tentatively they plan to finish studio work by end of this month and possibly launch in August 2012.

As a build up to the album launch, Elani will be seeking to perform for folk who have not heard them before so as to expand their fan base. Thursday’s gig at Choices was the first of such gigs with the next one possibly being at Adele’s Open Mic on 28th April.

Wambui also introduced the guys who back-up Elani. Allan Wanjohi on Percussion, Martin Asembo on the Keys and the very young (he is nineteen) Thomas “Infant” Olang’o on the Guitar.

Sound for the gig which was excellent (a rarity in Nairobi) was sorted by John who told me he is a sound engineer for Sauti Sol and also for Elani.

Elani then got back on stage and by now the crowd had warmed up to them sufficiently and was quite attentive. As a twist to their performance they invited Tusker Project Fame’s Wendy Kimani to grace the stage and she performed her new single, Rumor. In a further twist to the plot, Wendy invited Sauti Sol’s Bien to the stage and together they did a brilliant duet that had the crowd on their feet. Imagine my shock when I learn the duet has no title and has not been recorded.

Elani then got into their second set of the evening and they are folks who truly immerse themselves into the performance and give 101%. They are quite a sight to behold and their energy is infectious. In no time they had the crowd humming along and Choices was buzzing.

Songs that caught my ear were a cover of Sema’s Mwewe, a catchy Pale Pale that had guys joining them on stage to dance and another of their all time crowd hits, Bobea. The crowd was still demanding for more when Elani wrapped their set and the trio had to indulge them with an encore.

It was an evening very well spent. Totally worth my while.

Thanks to Roots International for giving artistes a space and taking music to the people. They have a different artistes performing every Thursday from 8-11pm at Choices. Entry is free.




#Conversationwith Abbas Kubaff

I recently randomly bumped Abbas Kubaff who I reckon is one of Kenya’s most talented and unfortunately also most under-appreciated hip hop artiste.

Chatted with him briefly and I was pleasantly surprised at his gentlemanly demeanor and eloquence in the Queen’s English.  His height and piercing eyes give him presence and he struck me as a man with a plan and not your, run-of-the-mill flaky Kenyan ‘celeb’.

A day after our chat I reckoned I could share the info with my readers. I asked Abbas if that was okay and he consented.

Here is how our chat went down:

Moderate: What’s up Abbas? Apart from Tokelezea you have been quiet. Why?

Abbas:  It is all about strategy. At times you have to seat back, survey and then strike with a bang.

Moderate: What have you been working on?

Abbas: My album. Kaboom! It will be released sometime in April.

Moderate: Big launch?

Abbas: I will have a video launch of Tokelezea on 24th March at Skylux. Come through.

Moderate: Tour/Performances?

Abbas: Yes, once album is out I will all over the place doing gigs. If things go according to plan I will also be going for my annual German tour most likely in summer of 2012.

Moderate: Let’s go back in time. The original K-South had you, Bamboo and the other tall guy. What happened?

Abbas: The tall guy was my bro, KC. He took a break from the game. He is in South Africa. Bamboo is in the States. I am in Kenya. We are all doing out thing. Maybe one day K-South shall be back.

Moderate: Who do you consider your competition in Kenya? Nonini, Jua Kali, Octophizzo?

Abbas: Nonini and Jua Kali do not do hip hop. Octo is my fan, he cannot be competition. I do not look at local. I am international. Hmmm..maybe Bamboo.

Moderate: Speaking of Bamboo, when is he coming back to Kenya?

Abbas: I honestly do not know. But I have worked with him on my upcoming album.

Moderate: Chantelle. A one hit wonder?

Abbas: Haha! You guys will be shocked. Chantelle is a good artiste which is why I have featured her in my album. She is currently working on her album which I am featured. Same thing for Chiwawa’s album. So Kenyans should look out for my album, Chantelle’s album and Chiwawa’s. All are coming soon.

Moderate: Kenyan media, asset or liability?

Abbas: I am yet to come across a real hip hop journalist, one who understands the hip hop life and culture and seeks to grow not to destroy artistes. So I try my best to keep off the media.

Moderate: Does music pay your bills?

Abbas: Yes! I may not perform a lot in Kenya but I do perform a lot abroad. Out there guys are real hip hop heads. They will pay for your concert and they will buy your CDs. I get royalties from abroad every other month.

Moderate: How many years in the game?

Abbas: Seventeen years! In context, someone born when I started in 1995, is now in Form Three.

Moderate: You have gone by several stage names: Jerry Doobiez, Doobiez, Abbas, Abbas Kubaff. What is your real name?

Abbas: Haha! (he pauses) Andrew Kabiru.

Moderate: Thanks for your time. All the best!



Rush job?

As a rule I do not write about religion due to the fact that religion is a matter of faith and not logic. However I do write about societal trends and my observations.  I have mulled and mulled about writing this post for awhile. I have finally decided to just write it as I feel it and be done with it.

So here goes nothing..

In February, Mavuno Church had a series ‘Finder’s Keepers’ that was about matters love. In a conversation with my friend she commented on how shortly there would be a lot of weddings as a result of the series.

This comment got me thinking about marriage and the church and the fact that early marriages are more the norm than the exception with born-again Christians.

In December last year, one of my friend’s, who is a serious dada-katika-Yesu got married. She was twenty one. It was a shocker to me but apparently quite normal amongst her crowd.

At same point I used to go to a church and would get bemused at the fact that the pastor was interested in the love life of the congregation. If a boy started hanging out with a girl then he would have emissaries from the Pastor asking him what was his plan with the girl.

There was no just dating for the sake of dating, there had to be a reason, preferably a relationship leading to marriage. If the boy had no long-term plans then he was discouraged from “wasting” the girl’s time. If the boy said he had long-term plans then he and the girl were promptly enrolled in a pre-marital class or a wedding class. Most people in that church would normally date for less than a year and bang they were married.

I have asked around and apparently this is not unique to the church I attended but the norm in most churches. Given this background I got to wondering whether there was pressure to marry young for those who are born-again Christians.

For those who are not born-again or avid Christians, the answer as to why the “Savedees” married young was sex. They reckoned since the “Savedees” cannot partake of sex before marriage then that it follows that their first serious relationship is geared towards marriage where they can rightly engage in sex.

The ‘Savedees’ reject this and say that the reason why they marry young is because marriage is a key component of life, also that as opposed for the non-‘Savedees’, due to God’s presence in their lives they do not waste their twenties searching for their purpose in life and finally the role models of young Christians marry young.

Maybe I am looking at this from the prism of my reality, but marriage at twenty feels like a rush job. I look back at myself at twenty, I honestly had no idea whether I was coming or going. I shudder to think of myself as a husband taking care of myself, a wife and a family.

However I am reminded that my parent’s generation did marry young and they did turn out okay. Makes me wonder when the culture of marrying when relatively older and quite well-off financially and career wise started and why.

I am no expert in matters love nor do I have a manual or correct time as to when one should marry. Neither am I convinced that the age at one marries has any relational to the success to said marriage.

What I am pondering on is if I was a young man who was “Savedee” and I really liked Girl X but I was not ready for marriage, would I be accepted or ostracized by my church? Or if I was Girl Y and I had not found the right person to settle down with, would I be then be the odd one out? What if I feel marriage is not for me, will I find understanding or will I be considered less of a man? How many ‘Savedees’ get into marriages so as fit in?

Just random questions ping-ponging in my head.

I do hope that the churches apart from encouraging their congregation to get into marriages when young are also providing the young folk with a good enough support system to aid them in the serious institution that is a marriage.


Hapa na pale

The Ruto+Uhuru v Raila ‘mine is bigger than yours’ contest has left a bad taste in my mouth. The less said about that the better.

I have a Sunday night ritual. Those who follow me on Twitter are familiar with my ‘Sunday night at the local’ tweets. I love reggae music. There is something about the drumbeat and the conscious message that has appealed to me ever since I was a young boy listening to Jeff Mwangemi’s Reggae Time on KBC English Service back in the day.

Sunday Night Reggae however is more than just about reggae music and drinking. It is also about the community. I live in the hood and Sunday Night Reggae is the BBC and CNN of the hood. Who did what, to who, where, how and when are all adequately dissected and analysed. It is truly ‘Nusu ya Kuonana’ as the KBC salaams guys used to say. (Aside: anyone remember John Shoto Umnyololo kutoka Shamakhoho?)

Anyway, I was at the local this past Sunday and the DJ went on a trip down memory lane. He played all the ragamuffin hits from the 90s and the contrast was hilarious. The older guys were all excited while the younger guys had alama ya mshangao! Yes, before bendover there was chini kwa chini and before that there was shika shika time. It is funny how every generation thinks it’s the epitome of cool.

I love that the Kenya Premier League is finally getting massive support from Kenyans. The clubs that have managed to attracted fanatical support are AFC Leopards (Ingwe), Gor Mahia (K’ogalo) and Sofapaka (Batoto ba Mungu). SuperSport and FKL laid a good foundation several years back and players are now professionals with salaries of up to Kshs 100,000. It is my prayer that Nyamweya’s KFF will not drop the ball and will now work on upgrading the tactical levels of the game now that stadia are filled.

There was a song I forget by who which asked, Kati ya Man U na Arsenali gani kali? Maybe another forgettable musician (I am using this term loosely) should do a Kati ya Lillian Muli na Janet Mbugua nani msupuu?

Before they do let me bravely venture into this minefield. I have asked around. Many women have distaste for Lillian Muli while they have a soft spot for Janet Mbugua. For men it is the opposite, they have the ‘hots’ for Lillian Muli while they are indifferent to Janet Mbugua. I wonder why.

My one cent on the matter is that Lillian Muli really puts an effort into ‘Brand Lillian’. From how she dresses, how she walks, poses and smiles. I may have an issue with what ‘Brand Lillian’ espouses but I have to applaud the effort. On the other hand, Janet Mbugua comes across as bland and boring. Yaani yuko tu!

Again, it is MY one cent. Now go ahead and shoot the messenger :).


Back and forth

My thoughts are all jumbled up. I have this need to say a lot of things until I end up not saying anything at all. This post has jumped the queue; there are two pending posts in my head that for a fortnight I have been unable to wrap my head around.

Oh well..

I am TIRED of hearing that Kenyan journalists are corrupt, incompetent, in bed with politicians and a whole lot of other accusations. This is not a defense, I am just against the blanket condemnation. Also tired with the lack of solutions offered. It is easy to critique but it is hard to build.

The questions should be how do we train journalists better, how do we make media houses hire qualified journalists and not the ‘celebs’ and how do we make media houses pay journalists better? While we are at it can we kill the neutrality myth and let journalists declare who they support as no human can be neutral!

I recommend the book Elements of Journalism by Kovack to all interested in journalism. A powerful read. HERE is a summary.


The shilling rose up to 107 against the dollar. Nairobi rumour mills alleged that five banks were behind this spike and that they were making billions in profits. Interest rates were hiked and people who are servicing loans are hard hit. Enter parliament. A committee is formed to investigate. It says that banks bent the law to defraud Kenyans and recommends censure of Central Bank Governor, Prof. Ndung’u.

When the report is tabled, ethnic considerations take centre stage as MPs from Central raise to defend “their man”. Then appear reports in local dailies that banks have allegedly poured 300M for the MPs to be “lobbied”. On the day of voting only 83 MPs out of 210 are in Bunge and the part recommending removal of Prof. Ndung’u is expunged from the committee’s report. This is Kenya!

In 1989, Julie Ward was raped and killed in Maasai Mara. Her dad has spent a lot of time and money trying to bring her killers to book to no avail. Her killers clearly enjoyed high level protection and Kenya was a banana republic where there was no justice for wananchi only for wenye-nchi.

Fast forward to March 2012 and Nairobi LAW Monthly carries a story on which it alleges that the killer was a son of an ex-President. This happening shortly after another son of the ex-President was committed to jail for not paying maintenance for his divorced wife and child. Is this Kenya?

Closer home, a road that was to be built 20years ago in my estate is finally getting built. In related development, there is a Railway sub-station getting built near my estate. Developments that just recently were only on paper and part of the “mythical” Vision 2030 are suddenly take shape and getting real. Is this Kenya?

In the midst of the noise it is easy not to see the change and lack of change. Some things are changing; other things are remaining the same. Back and forth Kenya keeps going. I pray that the forward movement outdoes the backward movement and Kenya attains the heights it should.


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