SautiSol’s Star Shines In Its Ultimate Element

I’ll be the first to admit it.

SautiSol are back – this time with a fierce glow and fire.

Now I’ve mentioned SautiSol a couple times, but this time it’s with deliberate intention.

Not that they were ever gone, per say; But on behalf of us – the extra emotional fans, we felt a bit forgotten. We’re into the heartstrings, you know, the type of music that shikas a place deep in our psyche and makes us weep in joy (or sadness), only cos the music is so sweet.

Yes, we, the emo SautiSol fans, had been left in the dark for a while.

We’d been forced to dance to the Afrobeats and the Melanins. But we never complained. We remained loyal. Because SautiSol is bae-er than bae.

And now? Oh boy, we’re ecstatic!

Our boys are back!

Apologies, MEN.

Our MEN are back.

Their new song, ‘Afrikan Star’, off their upcoming collabo LP, ‘Afrikan Sauce’ is so reminiscent of their first hit, ‘Lazizi’, that I can feel my giddy teen heart melting again; evocative of the first time I ever watched ‘Lazizi’ on ‘The Beat’.

Back then, you’d have to kauka and wait 24hours later, to hope to catch a re-run of the same song. But thank God we now have YouTube. And ‘Afrikan Star’ has been on replay for the past 20minutes. The song is about 4minutes long. That’s about 5 replays back-to-back.

And I’m not anywhere near done.

To top it up, our fave band performed with Burna Boy, who to me is Africa’s Lover Boy, in a good way of course. He’s amongst the few, up there with Donald from ZA & Sarkodie from Ghana, who’ve managed to perfectly master the art of being gangsta and gentleman at the same time. Who let’s face it, is every woman’s dream man.

Did I mention that they sang the song in Kiswahili? Especially during the part when they say, ‘Umeumbwa, Ukaumbika!’ you instantly find yourself singing out like, ‘Yaaassss SautiSol! Sing it to me!’

Good Lawd!

And let’s not even talk about Fancy Fingers with his fancy fingers on that guitar.

SautiSol have done a fantastic job at putting Kenyan musicians on the global map; but this time, they’ve taken the crown home. They’ve done something extra-ordinary, something that we’ve been praying, asking and hell, begging for, since the evolution of Kenyan music.

They’ve put the KENYAN SOUND on the map.

Forget the never-ending stories and debates and arguments clinching, ‘Kenyan music doesn’t have a sound’.

Ladies and fine gents, here it is: Afro-Fusion at its finest.

SautiSol are on a mission, and it’s a life saving one. It’s that of paving the way for not only other Kenyan musicians, but also the Kenyan sound.

It’s a slow awakening. You know, kind of how you gradually feel sleepy and fall into a deep sleep at the snap of a finger? Well, the snap has just begun.

Musicians, this is your year. Fans, this is your time to support.

We’ve had to sit back and accept the Naija Afrobeats and SouthAfrica’s Kwaitos. Now it’s KENYAN MUSIC time.

Make sure usichelewe.

Well in, SautiSol!

You can watch ‘Afrikan Star’ here.

Why Valentine’s Day is Simply Single-Shaming

I had predicted approximately a year ago that I wasn’t going to be alone on Valentine’s come this year. But fate is a funny thing. And so is God. We plan, He laughs.

Here I am, single again. Unfortunate, but normal.

‘The best thing to do, is to give yourself some love and care,’ says Love Coach Nikki Leigh.

But there’s no mood AT ALL to do that.


#WhatYouReallyWantToDo

Like, are you meant, just because you’re single, to go out and buy chocolate and drown in the euphoria of it all? Well, the idea IS tempting. Chocolate has got to be the bestfriend we’ve all never had. I mean c’mon, even YOUR bestfriend isn’t that cool, as per your Instagram posts. Chocolate on the other hand, is.

Or maybe you’re meant to call a flower shop a day in advance to order a fresh bouquet so you may receive some flowers on the day of, complete with a big red bow and a heart-shaped card supposedly from your ‘secret admirer’. Only because you secretly admire yourself. But that’s a secret only for you to know. Everyone else can continue wishing they had a ‘secret admirer’ to send them flowers like you, just for sakes.


Pretty synonymous 

Single-shaming on Valentine’s Day is as real as it comes. And let’s not even start on the ridiculous 90’s posts like:

 ‘Kama hujaolewa bado na ulizaliwa in the 90’s, something is wrong with you’

Or yet the worst one ever (this one is just totally mean in a hilarious way),

‘If you feel sad for being alone on Valentine’s Day; just remember that nobody loves you on the other 365 days of the year’

Oh the disgrace is just horrible!

You’ll also see guys trying to act like the day means nothing to them, when deep down they kind of wish they had someone to spoil.

It’s even worse for the ladies. Especially if you’re the type of chick who has guys scratching their heads wondering why you’re still single and exclaiming, ‘and the way you’re fly! I’m sure there’s a guy somewhere…’

Pah.

We have to fake a smile and pretend that it doesn’t bother us but darn, the struggle is valid!

But it’s the little things that truly, warm the heart.

Like for instance, the HR Manager walking around the plantation (you know, cos you work real hard, as though you were picking cotton), giving out roses to women in the office;

Or a seemingly good surprise from Ian of Procurement telling you that he got you chocolate, plain Cadbury – no flavor, just the way you like it.

You ask him how he knew that’s your favorite.

He says he noticed you buy the same type once a month, every month.

You chuckle and graciously accept the chocolate.

You then find the scenario intriguing and wonder what else he’s noticed about you that’s queer.

You’ll also get a morning message from your dad wishing you a ‘Happy Valentine’s!’ that will leave you feeling all giddy inside.

Then you’ll realize that today is indubitably the best day to go out for happy hour. All the single men in the bar have a point to prove. And so does its marketing team.

Maybe being single on Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad after all. So let’s quit it with the single-shaming.

Happy Valentine’s, fellow Millennials (whether single, taken or in-between)!

When Being Millennial Gets Tough

I recently watched a reality show about a female musician whose life seemed perfect – she’s a star on the Gram, she’s beautiful, her body is banging and most of all, she’s been trending on the ‘black girl power’ train.

But a sneak peek into a tough conversation she had with her mother over pouring tears and flying Gucci handbags made me stop and think a little more about my own life, and life generally as a millennial.

Amara La Negra, black Latina superstar was telling her mother that she’s tired of faking a life that she doesn’t have to the public eye.

From an outsider’s perspective, she’s got it all goooooing. I mean heck, she even had her millionaire friend fighting for her. Everybody wants to jump on the ALN (Amara La Negra) bandwagon. But she’s unfortunately not looking for passengers.

That’s cos she can only handle one passenger at a time, and the only one she can bear to carry is herself.

“Your cup runneth over. What comes out of the cup is for others… What’s in the cup is for you… Just don’t confuse the two.” – Iyanla Vanzant.

Watching ALN cry lit a bulb in my mind. I literally experienced an ‘Aha!’ moment,  that last year was a peer-pressure loaded one for me.  I was so hell bent on flowing with the wave and FOMO and looking cool, that I failed to realize that I was spending too much money doing what all millennials do: hang out with the same people and burn otherwise savable-money on the same things.

It’s no lie that we’re a microwave generation.

We covet things instantly and are unwilling to take time to work on what we really want. We want the money. And some more. And more of that.

It doesn’t help that the craze is everywhere; skinny girls desire to be thick and thick girls fancy cellulite free skinny-girl-skin. Young boys want big money and cars and older men crave the youthfulness that young guys detest.

Going through your quarter-life crisis makes you realize that shit has hit the fan.

Oh! You guys are going for pizza? Oh yeah, lemme tag along!

Or Oh, I just happened to be in your hood, si you chomoka I derail you a bit we go for one-two rounds?

The madness of going-with-the-flow needs to be halted. Until after you get your life in order: finances, goals, achievements, the whole lot. Thinking past immediate desires isn’t just wise, it’s vision.

Now you have bills that you MUST pay; dreams that you MUST achieve, people that you MUST leave in the past; relationships that MUST be dealt with; plans that MUST be cancelled; work that MUST be delivered.

There are no more excuses to being sloppy.

You’ll also realize that friendships are more glamorized than they should, and instead of feeling guilty that you’ve been accused of being SELFISH with your time, you realize that you become SELF-FULL. You prefer spending that same time helping your mum do her grocery shopping than turn up with your friends; or become strong enough to end that relationship you had hoped was the one, but the red flags were waving too high up.

You’ll also never get it right. And that’s perfectly fine. What you need to do, is to just get started.

Kuteseka ni kwa muda tu.

For now;  keep your head high and focus on keeping the MAIN THING; the MAIN THING.

Why ‘Muthoni Drummer Queen’ is Kenya’s Very Own ‘Mona Scott Young’

If you’ve never heard of ‘Mona Scott Young’, I assure you that you’ve probably come across some of the personalities she’s made famous globally in the reality TV and music world.


Mona Scott Young

Renowned musicians like Remy Ma, Joseline Hernandez, Ray J, and even break-out star Cardi-B are who they are today because of Mona Scott Young. Well not to say ‘she made them’ per say, but they accredit a major chunk of their fame to lady Mona, Creator and Executive Director of the hit TV Reality franchise, ‘Love & Hip Hop’. So successful have her shows been, with 4 franchises in Atlanta, New York, Hollywood and recently in Miami, that reality TV has forever been changed.

We’ve had similar reality spin-off shows trying to imitate what ‘Love & Hip Hop’ (#LHH) has done, but we all know there can only be one OG in the game.

Ask Khalighraph. He’s bound to let you know.

Back to Kenya.

Muthoni Drummer Queen, also known as MDQ has created a similar force in our music scene. She’s the founder of ‘Blankets & Wine’, a live concert that showcases all the new and hype artists in Kenya and has evolved over the years, to host shows in Uganda and Rwanda as well.


MDQ with artists like Blinky Bill & Mayonde

In similarity to #LHH, Blankets & Wine is a platform for musicians, both upcoming and seasoned. Muthoni has provided a plinth where artists such as Dela, Fena and Mayonde rose to fame while inviting international musicians to grace her event.


Nigerian artist Niniola headlines B&W 2017

Both women are an important factor to the music scene and might have even made history, by creating something that no-one had ever thought of, and yet manage to stand still even in the era of imitation. So powerful is the B&W Brand that it should be made a part of Kenya’s historic heritage. If we celebrate music and culture from our past; then we should celebrate the music and culture of our present in similar fashion.

B&W stands as a safe haven for creatives and lovers of music alike to network, express themselves, purchase creative merchandize as well as enjoy entertainment from a line-up of great artists and Djs, all the while grabbing treats to a variety of food and drink.

They don’t call Muthoni a Queen for nothing.

Heck, she envisioned her greatness when no-one else believed in it. Or even saw it coming. Maybe she should now think of producing a reality TV show for musicians and go the Mona-way?

It could be a great food for thought!

Check out her latest track, ‘Suzie Noma’, off the album, ‘SHE’.

 

(Images c/o: https://www.blanketsandwine.com/ )

 

Roadtrips to Naivasha

You’ll get a text from your friend asking you to send her Kshs 3,500 as your contribution to her birthday trip to Naivasha.

Then you’ll ponder on whether you really want to go, only because just a few months ago, 2 to be exact, you had travelled to the same house with the same crew to do the same thing.

But FOMO is for losers, so you’ll alter your weekend plans to head to Naivasha with the crew. You’re happy that contribution money is less than last time. Which could only mean one thing: more guys have been invited.

As usual, departure time is postponed by 6 hours and you end up leaving Nairobi at 4pm.

Designated drivers aren’t allowed to drink, so your driver will have to suck it up and listen to all your stupor conversations en-route.

Because of that, you won’t even remember the actual trip. Neither will you recall dancing at Delamere at 6pm with your BFF cos ya’ll were too turnt. It doesn’t matter. You’re young, wild and free, you reckon.

The gang gets to the Great Rift Valley Lodge. You came in 5 separate cars. Your boy was driving his Vits and had caught mad feelings cos no chick wanted to get into his car, allegedly. He-he. Another chick came with her new mzunye boyfriend. No one rode with them either, only cos they would have literally been third-wheeling. The rest of you packed yourselves like salty sardines into the other 3 cars, and a Naiva night it was.

As with previous road trips, the chicks strutted to the kitchen to cook and the guys well, you’re not sure where they were since you were also in the kitchen making nyama, despite your PC feminist antennas quipping high.

But that’s a storo for another day.

The food was delish, to say the least; pasta, both fried and baked chicken, your BEER nyama (yes, you cooked with someone’s beer), pilau, mash potatoes and even greens.

Then came the speeches. But you got so hammered on your way to Naivasha, that you end up either blacking out, or simply having no recollection whatsoever of what happened that night. The car you came in ferried the liquor, and you had an entire Southern Comfort to yourself. Kwanza the big one. Ok, not aaallll of it, but quite a bit. A lot.

The next morning is welcomed by extra bottles that had been deliberately and secretly stashed away in someone’s boot. Some Jamie and some Flirt Vodo. The KC coconut crave didn’t pass your Naivasha organizers’ shopping list either. Someone whips up a 1L Delmonte Gold Pineapple Juice tetra-pack and you marvel at the fact that there’s actually a Delmonte Gold brand. Out of curiosity, you taste it, but not before your best friend yells, “Don’t you dare open that pack of juice!” But since you’re nursing a hangover from hell, you shrug and reflect – what the heck. You’d rather sip your portion of juice, since you won’t be drinking anymore anyway.

The juice tastes the same as the kawaida Delmontes at Tuskys. Maybe with some added pineapple pulp. You wonder why people pay more for the pulp when they could just blend a pineapple for 10bob.

You’re all seated at the front garden of the villa. The Great Rift Valley Lodge houses are gorg, and there’s a front garden for bougie-ass things like breakfast picnic and ish.

Birthday girl approaches you all from the kitchen back-door with a cooking pot in hand to make the KC Coconut punch. Apparently, all the dishes were used the previous night during family dinner, and the rest were reserved for making breakfast. You guys pay Helen, the housekeeper to clean the dishes. So no one wants to touch even a spoon. Also, the other plausible excuse is that there is no soap to clean dishes.

They – the KC Coconut punch committee – use a mwiko to mix their concoction: KC Coconut, Delmonte Gold Pineapple Juice & Lime Juice. Turns out it’s like, really good. But you can’t drink cos your body has fikad its drinking limit. So you only taste a little and spit it out.

Then come the silly jokes, the gang making fun of each other and bets laid on the table.

One bet in particular, was that the word ‘Exhaustipated’ actually exists. It’s when you’re too tired to give a shit. Literally.

Guys place bets on the word; 720 bob and a 1000Ushs note, which is equivalent to 33bob. The 20bob was your contribution to the bet. Turns out the word actually exists on Wikipedia!

Then the ‘Who would you rather: Kill, Date, Marry ’ game.

You got 2 dates, 1 marry. You’re glad that no one wants to kill you.

Fast forward to the gang leaving the place at 6pm, and converging at Delmonte for a JD on the rocks for the road; After all the previous night’s and day’s drinking. Then a successful trip back to Nairobi, before heading to Charlie’s Bistro for a final nightcap to end the trip in style.

All things considered, the gang’s conclusion is that it was great trip with forever memories.

“We should do this again!” Someone yells, and you all scream, “Yeah!” in agreement.

Oh, & a shout out to KC Coconut. You heard that bartenders in clubs use KC to make cocktails anyway; so when you see a chick twitch her eyebrow in disgust at KC, and she loves to take cocktails, you conclude that she’s probably been on that KC a couple times.

Speaking of eyebrows, what’s with Nairobi women and their obsession with YouTube eyebrow tutorials? Someone should host an intervention on behalf of women with abstract paintings on their foreheads, you smirk.

 

The Bestfriend Break-Up

I’ve been struggling to approach this topic for a while now.

Who’d want to outrightly admit that they had broken up with their best friend?

I mean, you already look and sound mean enough complaining about the fact that you needed a time out from the person who checked in on you the most.

Worse still, from the person you spent innumerable hours with discussing best-maid outfits and how you’d have to coordinate your wedding and ruracio dates perfectly to avoid burnout, all the while discussing what cheap wine brands taste less like chang’aa because adulting is synonymous to budgeting.

And wine is indubitably bae.

It’s 4pm on a Friday at work and I’m done with all my tasks (I intentionally come in an hour earlier on Fridays only because I tend to lose focus by lunch time), and I  know by now we’d have already made plans to hang out at Brew Bistro.

Out of habit, she’d have told me that she was broke, or that she needed to send some mchango to one of her chamas, so Brew was only to be a 2-drink plan. Unless she called up Jamo from Finance at her audit firm to hook us up. And boy did Jamo hook us up. Then I’d meet someone else I knew who’d chafua the table and before we knew it, a 2-drink plan would’ve turned out to us leaving the raev at 5 in the morn.

But I didn’t mind.

“I’ll get you a jug, you just come,” I’d urge her and she’d reply with a, “Sawa.30 minutes.”

When I learned of the news that my maternal grandma had passed away, she was right there next to me. Literally, beside me. She wasn’t the ‘mother-bear-hug-lemme-rub-your -back’ type. That was more of my role. But she was the ‘I’m-here-I-got-you-what-you-need’ type. Plus my sister was so busy hugging me that she never had the chance to.

A year later, when my paternal grandma passed away, she was a no-show.

No text, no call, nothing.

By then we weren’t really talking. I’d have thought that she would get in touch, but it didn’t happen. Maybe she didn’t know. Or if she did, she decided to keep her distance.

My birthday came and passed. Again, still a no show.

Got a new job, the one I’d been animating about for months-on-end and yet, I couldn’t tell her the good news.

It felt like a death in the family.

Ours was a relationship that had all the symptoms of a disease, but with patients who chose to turn a blind eye to the diagnosis.

The tipping point was the guy she’d been dating. Long-distance.

He was a bum, I told her. He was a gem, she believed.

“I was the only one against their blossoming relationship, out of all her friends,” she quipped.

I chuckled.

Back to the topic in mind; my point of this post was to what, escape?

No.

I just realized that I have been going through best friend withdrawals. So I called a close friend of ours and vented to her. God bless mediators.

Her counsel? To ‘sit in that feeling’. And I wondered, huh? That had got to be the worst friendship advice ever given on the face of the earth.

‘Sit in my feelings’?

Like was I to make a jumbo mug of hot cocoa, plop on the sofa, wrap myself in a fluffy purple cuddle blanket, look out the window and ‘sit in my withdrawal feelings’?

“Exactly,” she exclaimed and before hanging up yelled, “lemme know how it goes!”

I guess that’s what I’m doing. Sitting in my feelings. Or rather, writing them out.

Are we still back to being friends? I think we’ve always been friends, and we always will be.

Are we ‘talking at the moment’? No.

I think we need to figure out our W.A.I.T, ‘Why Am I Talking’, period before we actually meet to talk and discuss. If we ever get to do that.

In the meantime, she remains to be the type of friend who’s family. The type you’re cheesy with without necessarily feeling cheesy and the type to be brutally honest with, despite the repercussions, such as a broken friendship.

If we do survive this fissure, then there’s nothing our friendship won’t overcome. If not, then we were lucky to have made happy memoirs that we’ll cherish for years to come.

To sleepovers, Snapchat takeovers, cheap wine, rants about boys who break our hearts and back-&-forth nail polish selfies with my Best friend.

Turn-Up Travel: Of ‘Freedom & Fireflies’ In All Things Travel

 

  • – This is a story about two travel enthusiasts, a bromance and a passion turned into business –

Muthuri Kinyamu and Brian Gatimu are the co-founders of ‘Turn-Up Travel’, a creative tour agency whose mandate is ‘people first over everything’.

The two are like brothers in a pod.

We’re seated at a balcony over-looking the beautiful sunset at Metta Nairobi’s HQ, the convergence of Nairobi’s business market ideas. Muthuri is perched to my right, with Brian to my left. They come dressed in distinctive wear; Brian in casual t-shirt and jeans and Muthuri in an African-embroided white shirt that attracts the attention of passers-by.

But that’s not the only attention they’ve garnered over the past six months.

The duo has managed to create a buzz on social media from their unique travel agency, ‘Turn-Up Travel’. From trips on the Lunatic Express to exploring Turkana to creating a Nairobi Instagram tour, they seem to have done it all. An exquisite record to say the least, but that’s just the beginning.

“Traveling – It’s Freedom and Fireflies!” exclaims Muthuri.

The idea of a travel agency bore fruit in a room at Heritage’s Voyager Beach Resort in Mombasa. Muthuri was a part of #TeamTwendeMara, a group of four travel ambassadors chosen by the Kenya Tourism Board to showcase Kenya as the ultimate global travel destination.

As part of the travel itinerary was the #MombasaRaha trip to Voyager Beach Resort, hosted by Ndeithi Kariuki, also known as ‘Captain of the VBR Cruise Ship’. Brian happened to be one of the photographers in a girls-filled trip and as they were the only guys in the trip (Muthuri and he), it only made sense that they shared a room together.

Escapades from the trip; comprising of a sunset dhow at Moorings Floating Restaurant, a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion, the Chris Brown live concert, a tour through Fort Jesus and Mombasa Old Town, an all-inclusive VBR package and the perfect gang to experience the entire trip with from beginning to end, motivated them to get into the travel business and show people a good time. Hence the urban phrase, ‘Turn-Up’.

I sat with the two to learn more about their inspiration and journey, and the reasons as to why ‘turning down’ is not an existing phrase in their travel dictionary.

“Our first trip was with the Lunatic Express and we didn’t even know that this was the last trip with the old train. It was a great experience!” says Muthuri, “Imagine a 15 hour ride with about 30 people. You’ve got food from Kitchen and drinks from Famous Grouse. And even though we hadn’t met half of the people before, our goal was to make everyone feel at home.”

“You should be comfortable enough to come to our trips and not feel alienated,” adds Brian, “that’s what it’s about. We’re a family. It’s seen in the manner that we market our trips, that draws a particular crowd of people – who are naturally inclined to spontaneously make relationships.”

Turn-Up Travel has so far been able to organize quite a few intricate trips to tick off your bucket list. They’ve been to the Murera Springs Eco Lodge, Meru for a ‘Cabin In The Woods’ theme; Had a ‘Castle Crashers’ adventure at Le Chateau in Malindi; Took the Lunatic Express to Distant Relatives in Kilifi, Explored Turkana; Participated in ‘Photography In The Wild’ at the Nairobi National Park; Rode the SGR Madaraka Express to Voyager Beach Resort; Went for white water rafting in Sagana; a Watamu Reboot; and hosted the famous ‘Nairobae IG Tour and Pub Crawl’.


Water-rafting at Sagana


The gang at Watamu Reboot

Turkana, as they reveal, was hands-down the best trip that they’ve had so far, simply because it was Turkana. Each day was a new opportunity to be blown away, an 8-day journey to one of the most beautiful places in the country.

“Central Island in Turkana, I’ll never forget that place,” says a reminiscent Brian. “It’s clean, it’s pristine, and it’s different…”


Central Island, Turkana


Sunset sails, Turkana

“It’s like a crater lake,” interrupts Muthuri, “it’s some place you just hike up and (upon reaching the top and looking down below), suddenly realize wow  – here’s this lake with a clean beach that you didn’t see coming. Turkana is a hidden beauty.  I remember the trip to Central Island; I thought we were lost, almost telling the driver turudi (we go back). And then (much to our surprise), we see an amazing white beach and still water.”

“I saw that lake and felt ashamed for being so ignorant about my country,” uttered Brian. “Here’s a lake I used to see as a strip on the Northern edge of the map of Kenya that I had ignored, simply because I was so vain and shallow towards a place that I call my home. This is the narrative we’re looking to demystify across the whole continent. People love Kenya, but we want them to love Kenya so much so that they explore it whenever they have the chance.”

The ‘Nairobae IG Tour and Pub Crawl’ was another experience like no other in Nairobi. It was a documentation of Nairobi as the love of the city dwellers, hence the term ‘Nairobae’, depicted through lenses and tapes of videos and photographs.

The tour comprised of 40 people, where the dawn-to-dusk tour included a series of sunsets, breakfast at Nyama Mama, strolling down Nairobi’s architectural streets and boat rides through Uhuru Park to cocktails at Four Points by Sheraton, a beer and wine tour at Brew Bistro and lastly, the pub crawl from Budhaa Bar to Mwendwa’s in town, with Uber coming in as the main transport sponsor.


(L-R) Muthuri and Brian, with the ladies from Bars Kenya at Brew Bistro, Fortis Towers

Turn-Up trips are mainly catered to the millennials, aged 18 to 40 years. But the two have noticed that their clientele so far has been the median 28 to 34-year old who’s open to spending on experience. They’ve also got packages for younger guys who find significance in value-added trips, whose pockets may not allow for luxury trips.

The core-message to their trips is the ‘I was there factor’ for the Turn-Up family experience.


Brian, taking in the magnificence of the ocean, at Voyager Beach Resort

“Our trips are curated from ideas that people often think of but have no way of exercising them. A pub crawl sounds like a crazy one-time idea to many, so why not do it? It’s also about the person who looks for but lacks a fun crew to go boat riding at Uhuru-Park with; so we provide both – the squad and the experience,” laughs Muthuri.

One of the most interesting things about Turn-Up Travel is that the idea was initially intended to be just that, an idea to simply travel and have fun. Their intention was to mirror the #MombasaRaha concept. Turns out the two had no clue of the massive growth that they would have, leading to the creation of a travel agency.

“Wherever you go, take more from the experience and let go, that’s the whole point of our trips. As a travel agency, we want you to let loose, have fun, spread good vibes and be yourself,” says a passionate Brian.

“It’s Freedom and Fireflies,” adds Muthuri. “Watu hawajakuja kuota moto (people didn’t just come to idly assemble by the fireside). They want value for their money. We go an extra mile to chase your travel goals. We’re crazy about important details like your preference to white wine as opposed to red, special requirements and micro-moments. That’s what essentially makes our clients choose Turn-Up Travel as the only company that works for them.”


At the core of Turning-Up

The difference between Turn-Up Travel and other travel agencies is the ‘family-factor’. It’s in the way they make their passion contagious that precedes their professionalism, with word-of-mouth and social media as their marketing tools and of course, the guts to propose out-of-the-norm ideas.

It’s also a no-brainer really, that they’ve been able to work with renown companies in the industry such as: The Kenya Tourism Board, Turkana County, The Kenya Film Classification Board, The Kenya Railways, Uber, Tecno, Famous Grouse, Heritage Hotels, Four Points By Sheraton, Distant Relatives Kilifi, Brew Bistro, Nyama Mama, Metta and Urban Kichen, just to mention a few.

Be sure to catch them on and be a part of their next trip, the #MombasaIGTour, hosted by Mombasa-based BAKE Winner and Blogger, Jammy El Jabry. And for the luxury lovers, an upcoming trip to Lamu for the Lamu Festival.

 

 

 

 

Seven Must-Try Restaurants In Nairobi

Nairobi, the glistening City Under the Sun, is home to some of East Africa’s best restaurants. The city’s food culture is wonderfully diverse, with even international restaurants integrating a taste of Africa into their meals. Whether you’re passing through before heading out on safari or here to visit, East Africa’s most sophisticated city provides an ideal backdrop to relax and indulge. Memories are created at the dining tables, where you can soak up the atmosphere over local favorite nyamachoma (grilled steak) and the popular locally brewed Tusker beer.

These are the restaurants to add to your Nairobi itinerary:

Java House

You can’t miss Java House in Nairobi. Even if you try to, you’re eventually bound to encounter one of its 34 branches sooner or later. The new and spacious Java House on Kimathi Street has the best views of the city and is the perfect stop to refuel after strolling around the CBD. Ask for the special homestyle chicken dhania and a side dish of spare pork ribs if you’re looking to indulge. Wash it down with their refreshing pineapple mint juice or apple cider.

News Cafe

Sprawling with elegant decor, soft lighting and an intimate indoor seating area, South-African based News Cafe offers the perfect aura for a special meal. A favorite choice is the chicken tikka on the bone. Wash this down with their signature sweet-but-strong cocktails, such as the Love Potion. News Cafe at the Sarit Centre  is strategically placed as the ideal restaurant stop-over after a whole ton of shopping.  One is spoilt for choice; from their stir-fry shrimp entrees, fresh tomato garlic & basil pasta or a crispy pesto cheese pizza. If you want to have a decent conversation over drinks without music badgering your eardrums, then walk into News Cafe.

Urban Eatery

Overlooking the busy urban Westlands area, Urban Eatery combines six different restaurants into one, and you choose which one you want to eat at. The options range from an all-day dining bistro, Indian food, an Asian noodle bar, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine, a milkshake bar and the Mercury signature bar for beer lovers. Grab your plate and sit among the mahogany-crafted tables surrounded by animal-skin rugs,  making it feel like you’re on a food safari.

Art Caffé

A breathtaking city view is your backdrop eye gallore when you dine at Art Caffé. The crowd at Art Caffé Oval is young and energetic. The restaurant is adorned with modern and sophisticated white décor and includes a relaxing magazine corner. It’s also candlelit by night. Definitely go for the pizza and finish of with the classic vanilla eclair for dessert. Soft jazz playing quietly at a corner is the lovely soundtrack for lunch, while the attentive customer service is spot on.

Kafé Afrikana

Smack in the middle of The Mall in the busy urban streets of Westlands, Kafé Afrikana is the ultimate grab-and-go restaurant, packed full of ready-made meals if you’re in a hurry. Inspired by the world-renowned premium coffee grown in Kenya, Kafé Afrikana derives its name from the green fertile highlands of Kenya and offers authentic African snacks such as the beef pilau (spiced rice) or Swahili chicken, with re-fills of the best coffee ever.

Zen Garden

Located along Lower Kabete Road, Zen Garden is a pan-Asian heaven and has been many times the talk of town because of its comfortable, relaxed and lush dining experience. The scent of fresh bamboo hangs in the air as you enter. When it comes to the Japanese dining and culinary prowess, one thing stands out: the culturally-rich flavors infused in the food, such as the papaya salad, prawn crackers, assorted sushi options, curry chicken with mushroom and the Zen Garden special fried rice & noodles. For coffee lovers, the Zen Café is one to try out, with contemporary coffees and freshly baked desserts. Remember to ask for the ‘Zen Garden Desert Special’ – tastes better than vanilla-wrapped waffles coated in pistachio ice cream.

Dusit D2’s SOKO

Soko means market in Swahili, and Dusit D2’s SOKO restaurant (www.d2nairobi.com) is a bountiful selection of gourmet food. What should you order from this market? Try the grilled pork ribs washed down with a refreshing glass of their signature gin & zing cocktail, which is a twist on the classic gin & tonic special. Located on the south wing of Dusit D2, part of Dubai’s international luxury hotel chains, it goes without saying that SOKO is cut above the rest with its flawlessly elegant interiors and lavish décor. The à la carte menu offered as well as buffet dining served at SOKO goes on to show that this is a restaurant willing to leap great lengths to satisfy its customers.

 

Music Review: Omarion In Kenya

You’ve got to understand the type of guy Omarion is.

His face is honey-dripping good looking. He’s got baby soft skin and a 6-pack worth licking ice cubes from. His hair is styled so stylishly well; shout out to his black barber back in California and he looks like his scent is simply divine.

He’s summed up like a well-carved music demigod.

But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg.

Omarion absorbs culture. He lives it, breathes it, revels in it.

He’s a humble millionaire superstar (with an alleged net worth of $8M, converted to Kshs 800M) who graced Nairobi over the weekend and took in every tradition that came his way.

Blending with Maasai Warriors? Oh yes, them included. He claimed their tradition and danced along with them. Head over to @KenyanVibe on Twitter and get a glimpse of O (At this point we’re all boys with Omarion after he landed to the motherland, so we can simply call him ‘O’.) He’s dressed in full gear Maasai regalia and if you didn’t know him for the superstar that he is, you’d easily assume him one of the clan.


That having been said, Omarion posted a video of himself dancing with the staff at what looked like Crowne Hotel, Upperhill, who were singing (in the most disheveled melodic version yet) the zilizopendwa song, ‘Jambo’ to Omarion. But he and his entourage didn’t seem to mind. They were busy embracing a Swahili welcome, in Africa, ready to turn up and have a good time, as you could tell from the various ‘eeeys’ in their selfie-videos.

So in comes his performance at the Ngong’ Racecourse.

Unfortunately I got to the event quite late, never had the opportunity to check out the new cats in the music industry as well as some of the more familiar faces. But I did make the mental note to check out some performances on social media from artists such as Dela. Her outfit could only be summed up in one phrase: Angel meets Riri.

I also saw a clip of Fena Gitu performing with her gang; BlinkyBill, Kagwe, Mayonde and MDQ, and they all looked like the kind of squad you’d want in your lane.

From reviews, I heard Le Band did quite the job on stage too. And it was expected. I mean, they’re like the new Sauti Sol, right? We all think it. At first we thought that H_art the Band was the new Sauti Sol, but they’re too eccentric for our laid back gents. So Le Band fits the bill quite snuggly. Which is good, because Sauti Sol are now internationally recognized.

Other notable acts were from Mvroe & Kiwango, Marcus & Shappaman, What’s Good Live’s Barak Jacuzzi, Alpha Mars and P.R.O.

I also got in in time to meet Amina hosting the show, with her long black tutu skirt, and Dj Joe Mfalme hosting on the decks.

Vera Sidika’s Veetox stand was literally the first thing you saw as you walked into the venue and I kid you not, I saw her getting ushered into the backstage by 2 fully dressed army guys with AK 47s dangerously dangling on their sides, walking right behind her ready to snub a guy if they even tried to wave at the girl. I thought the act quite peculiar but hey, if you’ve got Vera Sidika money then I guess you can literally do anything you damn want.

At this point, we all want to have rich men in our lives, going by Vera’s and Akothee’s lifestyles. But that’s a story for another day.

Back to our main man, O.

I literally only recall him singing ‘MIA’, a collaboration with rapper Wale. I mean, that’s the first song I remember listening to after I secured a tight spot right next to the stage where girls were out rightly competing to touch his cream-suede boots and end up yelling. “Oh my gosh, it’s really him!” on live Instagram feeds.

O then changed, or rather, grabbed an Ankara jean jacket over his black vest, and came out to perform ‘Post to Be’,Body on Me’ and lastly, the famous Orange hoodie for ‘Distance’.

The crowd was full of screaming girls and a bunch of drunken guys off of Hennessy. The rest were too busy filming for their social media fans to actually enjoy the music.  A couple handful, like me, were the only ones who truly seemed to live in the moment, and watch this iconic star that we’ve grown up bumping to, perform right here in the heart of our city.

My expectations for O’s performance were a bit higher than what was delivered. I’m not gonna lie.

I thought he’d come with a troop of dancers and perform live and make me wail and cry about how freezing my ice-boxed heart has become.

I went for Chris Brown in Mombasa last year and that show was all words EPIC. Even though he’d traveled with only 2 dancers. But we forgave him. Maybe cos Chris Brown has always been relevant to our music scene.

In fact, I believe the crowd was more hyped over the fact that Omarion was standing right before their eyeballs, as opposed to the fact that they should’ve been bumping to his actual music.

His performance with just 1 hype man on his side was however pardoned with the fact that he made us all lark-giddy by his ‘Distance’ performance, which let’s all agree, was the main chant of the night.

Another thing he did right though, unlike most International acts, was truly appreciate his fans.

Like the guy just stood at the back of the stage and bumped along with the crowd to African songs like Darassa’s Muziki. (And what’s with the ‘Bra, bra, bra, staki kusiskia phrase?’ As thought someone was paying homage to a girl’s bra. In the guy’s defense, the phrase worked cos nowadays it sounds cooler to say ‘bra, bra, bra’ as opposed to ‘bluh, bluh, bluh’. Try it you’ll see. And be sure to insert his intonation as you say it.)

O also danced to Davido’s ‘If’, a song we all know he likes to jam to from his former Instagram posts.

What irked me was the fact that the Dj on O’s live set never even played ONE Kenyan song. Like, he couldn’t even let O see us jam to the ‘Mwanaume sembe/mazgwembe’ song? Or maybe some Nyashinski or Toa Tint?

Another lesson to be learnt on just how much we need to address and incorporate our own authentic stuff in relation to other guest acts.

Then O also gave out personally autographed cool orange hoodies. We can assume that O has officially made orange hoodies a thing. I need to go thrift-shopping for one soon.

All said and done, the inaugural #AfropopFestival was an overall success, minus the petty Ngong’ Racecourse thieves here and there and the lack of adept lighting towards the entrance of the event; an event that ended after a 45 minute performance-wrap that left fans feeling shortchanged.

Lose Yourself To The Alabaster White Smooth Sinking Sands In Diani

Our arrival itinerary at the world-renown Leopard Resort Beach & Spa was at about 3pm.

Right on time for the wedding; the guards informed us. Wedding? We wondered. Apparently there was a wedding going on at the hotel.

We’re here as guests – we informed them.

The thought of a beach wedding some few steps from where we would be staying for the weekend was enough to send excitement thrills up my spine. Yippee! That was the sound of the holiday mood kicking in.

Fast forward to our check in at the Dakarai Villa, an all en suite house with three lavish bedrooms and state of the art living room, adjacent to a gorgeous dining set overlooking your very own personalized infinity pool beyond the glass doors.

As one might imagine, the entire hotel is one world; Big. The feel of the ocean waves is magnificent and the entire place is so large that it’s impossible to do a complete tour in one sitting. Nonetheless, the food is great and the ambience is to live for.

Day II

The next day got us sightseeing the wonderful town that is Diani. There’s only one word that can describe Diani, Serenity. The people are friendly, the temperature is cool, the food is spectacular, the air is peaceful, the ambience is quiet and the place is as clean as a whistle!

I finally got to understand the fuss behind Diani white sands; the water is clear as day and the sands as white as milk. So at home is the place that it could be quite tempting to simply sit down, have a meal and an entire meditation about life and how you’ll be quitting your job soon just to sit by the beach all day looking into the horizon and literally do nothing for the rest of your life.

Day III

We were on a glass boat trip, where the locals took us a water tour to view the ocean bed and the jungle of life that lives underneath the ocean. My favorite part was sighting an actual star fish! It was so red and pretty that I just wanted to take it home with me. Then we anchored on a sandy island literally in the middle of the ocean. We swam till we couldn’t anymore, took loads of pics and swore that for real, there was a God or spiritual being up there because ain’t no way this wonderful feeling was man-made!

Then we headed out to a local famous restaurant by the ocean – Bidi Badu – and had some delish chicken biryani (you can’t go to the South Coast and miss on this) and a platter-full of fresh sea food; some lobsters, prawns, Nile perch and a bunch of other tasty finger-licking fishes.

Day IV

We were chilling by the hotel, where we got to talk to the hotel manager, who gave us insights about Leopard Beach Resort & Spa – of how it’s one of the most acclaimed beach hotels in Diani and of the numerous awards they’ve gotten.

5pm got us feeling nostalgic as we had to leave this place of a paradise an back to our old mundane ways of living back in the city… sigh. But one thing’s for sure – DIANI ROCKS!

I’m definitely coming back for a sundowner or four. To sip on some chilled white Sauvignon Blanc wine and laze by the Forty Thieves bar, legs up on a random tree branch by the beach, hat and yellow sun dress on and have a ball!

Images by: Dan Waiharo & Jean Wandimi