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.

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.

 

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

Zen Garden: An Oriental Pan-Asian Piece Of Heaven

The scent of fresh bamboo wafts in the air as you enter this exotic, oriental pan-Asian restaurant. Located along Lower Kabete Road, Zen Garden has been many a times the talk of town, and if you haven’t been yet, then I hope this should be encouragement enough to get you going.

Eyeball Galore

The first thing you’ll notice when you get to Zen Garden is perhaps the nounification of the word ‘Zen’. The place is full of lash vegetation and tall green trees. A stroll down the driveway then welcomes you to a panorama of an exotic café and the renowned Bamboo Restaurant. True to its name, Bamboo Restaurant gives you the Bambooic waft of a tropical rainforest, fused with dining elegance and gourmet specialty.

First meal on the table

A starter assortment of fresh crisp prawns, some colorful tuna and of course, the ever-organic papaya salad served with 3 different sauces to cleanse you out as you dig in to the yummy daintiness.

The main dish was quite the spectacle straight from foodie heaven, specially made and served by Chef Den herself – head chef at Zen Garden. She laid out an entire platter of grilled fish served in a wooden salver, herbal-infused chicken curry, Japanese noodles freshly made at Zen Garden and lastly but definitely not least, the ever delectable Chinese rice. I love me some Chinese rice.

The fish was crisp and yum and the chicken curry? Fit to peacefully lull you to an afternoon siesta with a big fat smile plastered on your face. The noodles were thick and long, just how I like my noodles, with a dash and spruce of a spicy sauce.

Japanese dining and culinary prowess

When it comes to the Japanese dining and culinary prowess, one thing stands out: the culturally-rich flavors infused in the food. That, mixed with the classy and elegant ambience that is the Bamboo Restaurant at the Zen Gardens is the perfect combination to the perfect lunch!

And just when we thought we were done, full and completely stuffed, Chef Den then surprised us with some freshly baked dessert: Black Forest Cake coupled with the ‘Zen Garden Desert Special’ – which tasted somewhat like vanilla-wrapped waffles coated in pistachio ice cream! Absolute heaven to the taste buds.

Gastro-tourism in Nairobi

Without a doubt, our quest as Team #TwendeMara to bring out gastro-tourism in Nairobi was accomplished, by having Zen Garden host us and allow us to have a delectable experience of food and new places – right at the bull’s eye of their own garden!

All thanks to EatOut Kenya, for allowing and encouraging us to eat out more often. I hope you go out and find a new place to bring out the vibrant gastro-tourism in our beautiful country.

We look forward to the tales you’ll tell about it.

All Images Courtesy: Brian Gatimu Bwathanga

My African Mother

My African Mother is a warrior. She is a she-god. A magician in her craft that is embellished ‘Motherhood’.

She is a sacrifice; for the good of her children, for the love of her offspring.

My African Mother lightens my world.

Whenever she’s at home, it feels like a Saturday, calm and serenity

My mother loves. She’s caring. She’s pristine. She’s clean.

Nothing she can ever do can be wrong.

She might not know all the answers to life, but she creates solutions to problems, issues that then transform into non issues.

My African Mother is ride-or-die. She’s a child of God; who’s borne fruit to children of God.

She protects her lineage. Ensures they are anointed, blesses them.

My African Mother is a pillow for comfort; she is the light at the end of the tunnel, the illumination from a tower overlooking darkness, the glow of direction.

My African Mother bears it all for her young ones; she takes in all the spears headed towards her and shields her loved ones.

My African Mother never tires. Even with crease linings forming on her forehead, she finds the time and opportunity to smile. To be grateful. To be thankful.

Mother forgives. She has an energy running smoothly though her veins, beyond explanation.

She is the place of comfort and solace. A student of peace and unity.

My African Mother has the body of a goddess. She prepares her skin with smooth ore and paints her lips in confident crimson.

Mother learned how to be an African Mother from her African Mother, who learned it from her African Mother.

My African Mother loves me.

Me, a typical African child.

She loves me.

With all her heart. With all her being.

And that’s why I am who I am, how I am. And I am grateful for that.

My African Mother is the lioness of the wilderness, a strength and fortress, a place of okay.

My African Mother lets me be me; with my moods and my anger and my stress.

She takes care of me, even when I don’t take much notice of her.

She is great, a fortress, a steel of strength.

Oh Mama Africa.

May you bring forth women worth the title, African Mother.