Friday, October 31, 2008

Kuleya mimba si kazi

I like kanga's. Not only because it is a unifying piece of cloth as they are being worn throughout Kenya as skirts, shawls, baby carriers, etc., but also because they often have these interesting Swahili sayings printed on them. Some classic ones include the following:
  • Kuleya mimba si kazi: Kazi ni kuleya mwana.
  • Mtaka yote hukosa yote.
  • Njia mwongo fupi.
Although kanga's have been in existence since the middle of the 19th century, and Swahili sayings have been added to the design since the beginning of the 20th century, I feel that some of these messages seem even more relevant in our Kenya of today than ever before. Take for example:
  • Acha kukuna makovu ya mende. (in the amnesty or justice debate)
  • Adui mpende. (decaying political parties, new alliances being formed)
  • Shemeji zima taa. (because the electricity bills are too high to leave the lights on anyway)
And others are - unfortunately, after so many years - still not very relevant in Kenya:
  • Akili ni mali.
  • Amani, Upendo, Umoja.
  • Baada ya dhiki, faraja.
And you, do you have a favorite Kanga saying? Or a funny one you have come across?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Camping with Butterflies and Snakes

Nature Kenya is organizing a camping trip from 5th to 10th November 2008 to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest
Arabuko-Sokoke forest (41,600 hectares) is the largest single block of natural coastal forest remaining in East Africa. Diverse populations of animals are present, which include 250 recorded species of butterfly. The trip will include activities such as bird and nature walks, visits to local communities and trips to Gede and Bio-Ken Snake Farm, housing the largest collection of snakes in East Africa.

Cost: KSh 4,500 per person, including transport from Nairobi, food, camping fee and park fee. Non-members will pay an additional KSh 1,000 for temporary membership. Payment to be made at the Nature Kenya offices at the National Museum in Nairobi (phone numbers: 0722/888178, 0722/336456, 020/3749957/6090.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blankets & Wine

Muthoni Music will host an afro-based music festival called Blankets & Wine on November 2nd 2008 at Tayiana Stables. Blankets & Wine promises to be a premier afro-based music festival that will showcase three premier East African musicians engaged in the various emerging genres of afro-fusion music. Blankets & Wine is a picnic-style music festival and thus audiences are encouraged to drive down to Tayiana with a Masaai shuka /blanket / kikoy / picnic chair, some wine and their preferred company, and proceed to share in this musical and lifestyle event. Maasai shukas, wine and food (barbeque and cold meats) will be available at the event at a small fee. Blankets & Wine is an experience of music and lifestyle like no other in Nairobi designed to promote the consumption of afro-based music and art and its corresponding lifestyle. Blankets & Wine tickets are available at Tayiana Stables, Nu Metro media stores, Dormans outlets and on reservation (they will deliver). Kindly call Muthoni on 0721/801333 or Stella on 0725/721623 to book/buy tickets. Each ticket costs KSh 1,000. You are cordially invited to the first ever Blankets & Wine. Karibuni!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

DVD's @ 200 bob

I reported earlier about the first Kenyan Amazon. Well, it looks like we have a second one now, at least for DVD's: Quick Flicks StoreThey claim to be Kenya's premier online DVD store and are selling DVD's from KSh 200. You can browse their online catalogue and place an order. The DVD's are then delivered by courier (at KSh 100) to your doorstep within Nairobi and its environs in 1-2 days. You pay cash on delivery (currently the only payment option).

Anyone tried this service? Could it be trusted (they only give a mobile phone number as contact on their site...)?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Kelele is an annual African bloggers’ conference held in a different African city each year and run by an organising committee in that city. Kelele will be held for the first time in August 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya. Kelele is the Kiswahili word for noise. Kelele will be a gathering of African bloggers in the tradition of historical African societies where everyone has a voice. Where society has room for debate and discussion. The theme of Kelele ’09 Nairobi is Beat Your Drum – connecting the traditional Africa method of getting your message across vast distances – the talking drums – to the 21st century and the tools we use today to get our message across, blogs and the Internet.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lamu Cultural Festival

Mark your calendars: 28-30 November 2008

Lamu Old Town is a unique and rare historical living heritage with more than 700 years of continuous settlement. In 2001, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Since then the Lamu Cultural Promotion Centre, a community based group, has been organizing an annual cultural festival to promote and preserve the unique Swahili heritage of the Lamu Archipelago.
The trade winds of the Indian Ocean have been bringing visitors from the world to the East African coast for over a thousand years. The local people of Lamu have a long established tradition of welcoming travelers. In the same spirit, the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group bids you a warm ‘Karibu’ to this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival to experience hospitality that has remained unchanged over the centuries.

The three day festival showcases traditional dances, displays of handicraft and competitions on water and land (Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow races), and musical performances from both local and visiting artists sharing a united heritage. This year’s programme will feature the Arab-Andalusian group ‘Musica Antigua – Eduardo Paniagua’ from Spain as well as popular Taarab musicians from Zanzibar. The Spanish group, led by the award winning conductor, Eduardo Paniagua, specializes in interpreting medieval Arabic Andalusian music and play the lute, the hurdy-gurdy, the tromba marina, flute, organ and the darbuga (drum). There will also be displays of traditional handicraft, henna painting, Swahili food and a Swahili bridal ceremony. Lamu Fort will host an informative exhibition on the history and origin of ‘Swahili Doors’. National Museums of Kenya and the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa will be organizing a workshop on the Lamu politician/poet (1760 – 1830) Zahidi Mngumi, which will culminate with the presentation of copies of manuscripts to Lamu Museum from the State Museums of Berlin and Hamburg. Lamu Museum will be offering guided visit to Takwa Ruins on Manda Island on Sunday morning. Following the introduction of film shows at last year’s Festival, a series of films are scheduled once again in Mkunguni square on Sunday evening.
Lamu offers accommodation to suit all pockets. Transport by road to Lamu is safe. Public transport from Mombasa leaves daily at 7, 10 and 11am (Tawakal Bus, Tel. Mombasa 041 222975). The journey from Mombasa to Mokowe on the mainland takes six hours, followed by a half an hour boat ride to Lamu Island. 

Other attractions include:
  • Lamu Museum, exhibiting Swahili culture and the mainland’s non-Swahili groups
  • Lamu Fort, dating back to 1821, having been built by the Sultan of Oman shortly after Lamu’s victory over Pate and Mombasa in the battle of Shela
  • German Post Office Museum
  • Swahili House Museum
  • Takwa National Monument on Manda Island (a settlement dating back to AD 1500, with ruins of a Great Mosque and a pillar tomb)
  • Ruins of Shanga, an 8th century Swahili settlement, on Pate Island, containing remains of the coral walls of 160 houses, two palaces, three mosques and hundreds of tombs
  • The early Swahili settlement of Pate, once a power in the region
  • Numerous sites and monuments that showcase Swahili civilization at its height in the 15th century
  • Donkey sanctuary for the old beasts of burden
  • The dhow making village of Matondoni
Through the Festival, the people of Lamu continue to share their heritage, both tangible and intangible with the wider world, promoting dialogue and understanding among pepoles and culture while at the same time playing an important role in promoting sustainable cultural tourism.

A wonderful opportunity to experience the beauty and traditions of this mystical, exotic and serene archipelago!