Tag Archives: safaricom

Music that moves you

When a retired high school head teacher stood on the stage in the middle of a performance by five time Grammy Award winner Victor Wooten and declared “I am the reason why this is happening” my curiosity was piqued.

WOOTEN

The retired head teacher was a high school teacher in Western Kenya in 1978 when an American showed up at the school and asked for a teaching job. The American had made a trip to Africa to find himself and the teacher helped get him a chance to teach Math and Physics.

After a stint teaching in rural Kenya, the American went back home to do his Masters and 40 years later is now the third president of the world famous Berklee College of Music.

Francis Lutomia was the teacher 40 years ago while Roger Brown was the American looking to find himself.

Four decades later this unlikely relationship has birthed an even more unlikely relationship between Kenya and the Berklee College of Music through Francis Lutomia’s son, Sam.

GYG

According to Francis, Roger gave his son a job at Berklee and Sam in 2011 went on to found the Global Youth Groove (GYG) whose mission is to transform the lives of youth in Kenya through music primarily by a cultural exchange program involving Berklee students and alumni and Kenyans.

Boys-trumpet_n

For six years Global Youth Groove has been doing the exchange programs and after three years of planning Sam had finally managed to get the hugely in-demand Wooten and Berklee Bass Department chair, Steve Bailey to come to Kenya together with several of Berklee students and alumni.

At first glance, Wooten dressed in a bright African print shirt – that he was gifted by Kenyan jazz artiste Ricky of Ricky na Marafiki – and spotting dreadlocks covered by a black woolen cap can easily pass for a Jamaican roots reggae musician.

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That is until he strums his bass guitar and magic happens. His hand motion is at times fast, at times slow and at times barely noticeable but what is constant is the brilliance of a man at the peak of his skill.

wootennn

For 50 of his 52 years Wooten has been playing the bass guitar and seated at the front side row of the Michael Joseph Centre I was blown away by the melodies he coaxes out of his bass guitar. It was easy to see why Wooten who also teaches at Berklee has been named at number 10 in the Top 10 Bassists of All Time by the influential Rolling Stones magazine.

On his part, Bailey a blonde haired, wiry man who would not be out of place in a country music band run to the stage high fiving all the VIPs sat in the front row and cracked jokes with ease. He then went on to strum a six string guitar that is the hugest guitar I have ever seen.

BAILEY

Bailey who is 57 started playing the guitar when he was 12 and the unwieldy instrument was like jelly in his hands.  Watching him manipulate it to produce delightful sound was like watching a painter produce a masterpiece from scratch.

Wooten and Bailey mastery on the guitars resulted in a sensory experience that was amazing. Imagine two guitars having different animated standpoints on a conversation that covered a variety of issues and you begin to picture the amazing chemistry.

martenn

Backing up the two musical geniuses was Martin, a second year Berklee student on the drums who played with the confidence of a professional and the abandon of a teenager.

WOOTEN BAILEY

The intimate invite-only evening of jazz was hosted under the auspices of the Safaricom Jazz Festival with several Berklee associated musicians taking to the stage.

A gentleman named Ricky who was dressed like a Southern pastor engaged the crowd in singing a catchy song which had an American south churchy-feel to it. “People make the world go round” was the audience refrain as Ricky crooned and Wooten, Bailey and Marten jammed.

RICKY

Then come Leonna dressed to kill and looking so young and sweet until she began singing and her sensationally beautiful voice made a lady sat near me shudder in bliss and almost get into a trance.

And finally from the Berklee crowd was Sky Bridge band with Japanese vocalist and composer Utako Toyama backed by two other ladies of colour. Their song ‘We declare peace’ was about global unity and they also got the audience quite engaged.

SKY BRIDGE

Singled out for possible Sainthood by an enthralled Bailey was Elizabeth Njoroge, the brains and heart behind Ghetto Classics. The visiting Berklee musicians had visited Korogocho a day earlier and were wowed by the taking of classical and jazz music to the youth of a highly disadvantaged neighborhood.

Quest for sainthood aside, heartfelt pledges of support were made by Bailey on behalf of Berklee for the betterment of Ghetto Classics to which all the proceeds of the Safaricom Jazz Festival go to.

korogocho

A special mention goes to The Don Ouko, a brilliant Kenyan saxophonist who was backed by a vocalist, drummer and a guy on keys and who was the curtain-raiser to Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey and the other Berklee musicians.

The Don

I was also quite wowed by Jacob Asiyo who was a guest at the concert and who totally delivered when he was ambushed with a request to play the keys for Wooten and Bailey.

JACOB ASIYO

The Master of ceremony was the delightful Kavutha-Mwanzia Asiyo who incidentally is also an alumni of Berklee.

KAVUTHA

At the end of the two-hour jam session all the artistes who had graced the stage through the night went back on stage to jam in a lovely improvisation.

JAM SESSION AT THE END

Quite a lovely evening spent with music that moved me.

GOD BLESS KENYA!

PS: Images via @SafaricomLtd, Google.

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Lessons from the Kenya versus Germany Test Match

The Germany national fifteens rugby team won the Test match against Kenya Simbas 29-30 with the last play of the game. A superbly taken drop kick ended coach Jeroome Paarwaters’ long-running winning streak at the RFUEA grounds.

The Road to Japan Rugby World 2019 started with a stumble but that may be a good thing if questions are asked and answers got.

There were a huge number of senior players dropped by the technical bench before the start of the season. The bench stated that they were not up to scratch while word went round that they had being pushed aside for being too vocal about player welfare. What is the truth? Can a middle ground be found?

Of what value was the ten day tour of South Africa? Can a team really get good value from just a ten day trip? There are also reports that a trip to New Zealand is in the pipeline. The ‘bench-marking’ tours are great on paper but their actually tangible benefit on game day is the question. Also, should they be so close to game day such that jet-lag seems to be an issue.

The list of sponsors for the Test Series was quite impressive and every five minutes the announcer earned his pay with a mention of the long list of sponsors: Sportpesa, Tatu City, Safaricom, Tusker, Dasani, etc. The coffers are presumably quite full and it follows that within reason anything the Kenya fifteens team and the technical bench need should be availed. Is that the case? Why then are the fifteens players not on contract like their seven’s counterparts?

Kenya missed out on qualification to the 2015 rugby world cup by just one match. This time round does Kenya Rugby Union have a coherent concrete plan to see Kenya bag the ticket to Japan 2019? For starters a decision has to be made on whether to continue with the players who have worked hard to lift Kenya up in the rankings or to retire them and try qualifying with young blood.

If KRU does have a plan then it is holding it quite close to its chest. However, if I can hazard a guess, it is probably business as usual and hoping for the best. That will certainly not do.

KRU is not the only one that has to step up if Kenya is to play in Japan.

The Simbas had beaten Spain and Portugal with ease in Test matches last year and the Germans who were two slots below in the world rugby rankings were expected to be easy prey.

However, from the onset The Germans seemed to be on the ascendancy with compact defensive play, brilliant forward work at scrum, mauls and line-outs as well as explosive bursts of speed when they spotted a gap. They certainly were the better team overall throughout the match and were good value for the win.

For Kenya, the forwards looked quite sluggish and they totally outplayed and this denied Kenya a platform to build on. As for the backs they were sucked into the contact play and Kenya seemingly lacks a play-maker to switch up the game or to split a defense. It felt over and over like the same play. Either try smash through the middle and when that was stopped by the resolute Germans taking it all the way wide to Jacob Ojee or to Darwin Mukidza to run on the line. It worked twice but it certainly is not enough as the one point loss showed.

The bad news is that the Kenya Simbas are seemingly not yet world cup material. The good news is with the bubble burst so early in the season Kenya can now work at being ready to try qualify for the rugby world cup. A silver lining to the 29-30 loss witnessed by one of the largest crowds RFUEA grounds has hosted.

“Rugby is Ngong Road and Ngong road is rugby” tweeted an avid football fan who had heeded the cry to be part of the Kenya Simba’s pride at RFUEA. Heck, even Jack Oguda, the C.E.O and Frank Okoth, the C.O.O of KPL were in the V.I.P area enjoying the rugby and marveling at the huge fan attendance which Kenyan football can only dream of. Respect to whoever was in charge of the marketing effort, job very well

That Ngong Road is the spiritual home of rugby in Kenya is now beyond doubt and that Kenyans are hungry for a sporting spectacle on a Saturday afternoon is not in question.

However, as has been stated on numerous occasions, the RFUEA grounds need a total makeover.

There needs to be seating stands all round the stadium for the fans as watching rugby while standing is not kosher. Public washrooms need to be build or hired as the ones at the Quins club house are not enough. The changing rooms available may just about pass muster for Eric Shirley games but definitely not for Kenya Cup much less international matches.

Security felt quite blaze and reckon it has to done in a better way given the current realities. Parking was a nightmare and a solution to that has to be thought of and while at it a way not to clog up Ngong Road. The queue to purchase tickets was pretty long and perhaps ticket sales should be moved online and also outsourced. An aside; it was cute seeing Homeboyz RFC players man the ticket booth but it showed a lack of professionalism.

Rugby is as much about the game as the party. Quins was overwhelmed as a party destination as early as 6pm with someone tweeting at 10pm that it was “a mess”. Clearly, therein is an opportunity for event organizers.

With Safari Sevens scheduled to return to RFUEA grounds in November, KRU have a time-bound deadline to beat to fix all these glaring inadequacies at RFUEA.

Lastly, congratulations to KCB who beat Kabras Sugar to lift the Enterprise Cup for a third consecutive season. The final was played at 12pm. It was supposedly the curtain raiser for the Test Match that kicked off at 4pm. Why should a Cup final curtain raise a test match? Felt that this was unfair for the players, the fans and the neutrals. A better scheduling of games should be considered by the Union.

With local fifteens rugby season done and dusted it is now time for speed and thrills in the 6-leg national sevens rugby series. Series kicks off with Mombasa’s Driftwood Sevens on July 22 followed by Nairobi’s Kabereri Sevens on July 29 before taking a break in August for the General Election and resuming in September.

For Kenya Simbas next up is Elgon Cup first leg away to Uganda on June 10 with the return leg signalling the start of the 2017 Africa Cup that has been expanded to six teams: Senegal and Tunisia added to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya.


Safaricom Sevens 2012

Safaricom Sevens is billed as Kenya’s and to some Africa’s premier rugby event. It celebrated its 17th birthday this past weekend.

Since 2000 I have not attended the tournament but this year I broke my hiatus and was at Nyayo Stadium all of Sunday to sample the rugby and atmosphere.

Image | Google

These are my reflections:

The Good

1. Nuturing of talent. It was great to see Under-12, Under-14 and the University teams.

2. The coach has a bigger selection of international quality players available to pick from going by the standards of Morans (2nd placed) and Shujaa (3rd placed).

3. The expression of patriotism was amazing. Folks donned national flag colors, got painted, carried flags. In a country where tribalism is rife, that was refreshing to see.

4. I was socialized into rugby on Ngong Road. Therefore I was skeptical on the move from KRFUEA. Also wondered on the security. After Sunday I was sold on the move. Nyayo Stadium has potential. It just needs to get nurtured.

5. The security has intense, had to endure six body searches before entry into the stadium.

6. Safaricom did try to relieve the fans of the torture from the sun by providing branded mini-umbrellas, big umbrellas, helmets and hats. For that I applaud them.

7. Russia (the stands directly opposite the VIPS) was ROCKING! It was a-laugh-a-minute.

The Bad

1.  The KK guards were pretty rude.

2. The rule about no food and drinks from outside was not uniformly enforced. The group I was with have to give away fruits and water. Imagine our surprise when we got into the stadium and folk had sandwiches, bottles of wine, vodka and all manner of food and drinks from outside.

3. Speaking of food and drinks, the vendors at the event charged exorbitant prices. Seeking to take rugby to the masses should also include vendors being considerate to mwananchi.

4. On Friday and Saturday there was limited coverage on mainstream media as Gor v AFC grabbed all the headlines. This was slightly remedied on Sunday though.

5. A well-manned social media account preferably twitter would have come in handy to enable fans plan their day by providing match day fixtures and times.

6.  Only VIP and hospitality sections were tented. The fans in the rest of the stadium were left to open to the vagaries of the intense sun. How much would it cost Safaricom to provide tenting for all?

8. Got into Nyayo at 9.30am. Matches were already on-going. Fans were steadily streaming in. However mounds of garbage from the previous day were gathered at various points around the stadium awaiting collection. This finally happened at around 11am.

9. Also noticed that the Coke vendors directly in front of Russia had tattered branded umbrellas. Not a good look for a major event.

10. It was ironic that Safaricom sponsored the tournament but Safaricom cellphone internet was a matter of chance. Half the time I could not log on.

11. This was the first major rugby event that I have attended that I did not see Arigi, the staple of Kenya rugby for the last 15years. What happened to him? Who are the new people running the cheering squad? They are not cool. Ministry of Rugby do something!

12. In related news, Come baby come is now a rugby chant. How now?????

13. 90% of folk there are clueless about rugby and are there for the carnival. The carnival fans are great but wish the numbers of folk who get rugby would get to at least 50% of the crowd.

The Ugly

1. The dispensing of the branded merchandise was handled badly. Officials threw the Safaricom merchandise at fans in the stands who then scrambled for them, this would easily have led to a stampede.

2.Most fans are clueless about old school rugby songs. Aren’t they being sang in school, uni or club rugby matches? It would be very sad if the songs which are our heritage were to die off.

3. The women in minis, heels and makeup. Honey, it is rugby. Jeans, shorts, sandals/sneakers will do.

Bonus

This was my 7s moment (the two were seated next to me in the stands and were speaking in Kiswahili):

Chic: (Sips beer, puffs cigarette) Do you understand the rules of this game?

Guy: Kinda

Chic: I have no absolutely idea. I just come to look at the well-built guys in tight shorts running around.

Me: HAHAHAHA!

GOD BLESS KENYA!


Switch Off

Users of counterfeit mobile phones have until September 30 before their handsets are switched off.

The deadline set by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) precedes a 3 month long awareness campaign dubbed, “Pata Ukweli wa Mtambo” to educate Kenyans on the disadvantages of using fake mobile phones and how to establish if their handsets are genuine.

To check if your mobile phone is genuine, dial *#06# to get the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and then send the 15-digit number to 1555 to confirm the validity of your handset.

According to CCK’s Acting Director General Francis Wangusi this is the culmination of efforts of a Technical Committee comprising of representatives of different telecommunication industry stakeholders and the government. The Committee was set up following issues arising from last year’s notice by CCK to phase out fake phones.

He added that industry statistics indicate that close to 3 million or 10%  of mobile phones in the Kenyan market are counterfeit.

Speaking at the same function, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Bitange Ndemo announced that the deadline for SIM registration will also be on September 30. After that date mobile operators will be required by law to deactivate unregistered SIM cards.

He asserted that the government is keen to avoid a repeat of what happened in the aftermath of 2007 General Election where text messages where used to incite violence and fuel ethnic tensions but police were unable to bring culprits to book due to low number of registered SIM cards and widespread use of fake phones.

The government has since enacted the Finance Act 2012, which provides a legal framework for the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

While enforcement of the Kenya Information and Communications Act CAP 411A by CCK seeks to curtail counterfeit phones in the market.

Mobile operators present welcomed the campaign with Safaricom’s head Bob Collymore, applauding CCK’s collaborative approach. He also called for lower taxes so as to reduce the cost of handsets and boost the fight against counterfeit phones.


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