Saturday, November 29, 2008

Get lifted by Novida: a new life for 25 bob

'Novida' is Portuguese for 'new life'. And you can now get that new life in Nairobi for only 25 bob!

A new non-alcoholic, malt-based, fruit-flavoured soft drink named 'Novida' was launched this week in Nairobi by Coca-Cola. I had the opportunity to taste it yesterday, as some beautiful girls in sexy miniskirts were distributing some cans for free on some highways and major roundabouts. My friend initially thought this was a new scantily dressed basketball team on their way to Kasarani, but no, this was the Novida promotion team. Novida comes in three flavours: pineapple, apple and tropical. A 300 ml bottle retails at KSh 25/- and a 250 ml slim can at KSh 45/-. It is not every day that you get a free present worth KSh 45/- from an attractive girl in Nairobi, so I decided I would give it a try. I got the pineapple flavoured version, produced on the 24th of October 2008 and expiring on the 3rd of July 2009. The ingredients are: carbonated water, sugar, acidulants: citric and malic acid, malt extract, stabilizers, flavourants, preservatives: potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate. Basically very much the same as the ingredients I listed in my message on Alvaro. It is only the quillaja extract which is missing in Novida, and that may be the reason why the foam on Novida is not lasting as long as the foam on Alvaro. As far as the taste is concerned, I found my Novida Pineapple to be quite refreshing and very similar to Alvaro Pineapple, maybe just a touch sweeter.

Strangely enough, the can indicates "canned by Coca-Cola caners of Southern Africa (PTY) Ltd., 96 Mullet Street, Wadeville 1407, South Africa under authority of Schweppes Holdings Ltd." I mean, firstly, do we really have to import this from South Africa or could this be done locally as well? And secondly, shouldn't it read 'Coca-Cola canners' instead of 'Coca-Cola caners'? 'Caning' is something completely different from 'canning', and I hope there is a ban on caning in South Africa just like in Kenya. This could become quite a disturbing typo for Coca-Cola...

No matter how many new Alvaro- or Novida-type drinks may still be launched, I think I will always still prefer water, Kenyan quality coffee, and fresh natural juices, basically because these new drinks are just flavours and not the real natural thing as I already described in my earlier post on Alvaro. Have you already tasted Alvaro and Novida? What is your opinion?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LIFE iconic images from Kenya

Google has just put online the entire collection of photos from the legendary but now defunct LIFE magazine including some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Millions of images have been scanned and made available on Google Image Search. Only a small percentage (3%) of these images have ever been published. The rest (97%) have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings and prints. The photos are available for free for personal and research purposes.

The good news for Kenyans and friends of Kenya is that the LIFE database contains some interesting historic images about Kenya as well. Let me give you some examples:

Natives loading the ships.
Location: Mombasa, Kenya
Date taken: July 1947
Photographer: Eliot Elisofon

Labor leader Thomas J. Mboya in front of his house.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Date taken: September 1959
Photographer: Eliot Elisofon

Kenyan Olympic team returning from Mexico with track star Naftali Temu being carried on shoulders.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Date taken: November 1968
Photographer: George Silk

Mirella Ricciardi (R), internationally known photographer and author of the book "Vanishing Africa", preparing to photograph a Masai tribeswoman wearing traditional decorative beadwork.
Location: Kenya
Date taken: April 1971
Photographer: Carlo Bavagnoli

Sunday, November 16, 2008

She had a dream

Ayub Ogada re-discovered

Obama's win and an unexpected day off encouraged me to browse through my old music collection and look for some Luo music. And I am very glad I did, since I have now re-discovered Ayub Ogada's album En Mana Kuoyo (meaning "just sand"). Ogada's music is based on repetitious patterns plucked on the nyatiti, a stringed instrument reminiscent of the lyre, combined with his soft voice.

Ayub Ogada is a Luo and a traveller in body and mind. At the tender age of six, Ayub accompanied his father and mother when they took their musical act on tour, performing a duet playing Luo songs on the US college circuit. Ayub later went back to Kenya where he went into a Catholic school run by nuns and then an English boarding school. His education and his outstanding ability with percussion landed him a position with the French Cultural Centre in Nairobi, composing modern and traditional music for various productions. Such events proved formative. The wide-eyed youth with his images of America would nurture a respect for his own tradition but a hunger to develop it and nourish his own creativity. Like many of Kenya's youth, Ayub picked up on the flotsam of the global music tide: soul, jazz, Latin. Kenya's attractiveness to citizens of neighboring countries like Congo and Tanzania added spice to local flavours such as benga, a Luo-derived, guitar-based rhythm popular in the 70s and the 80s (in Luo, 'benga' means soft and beautiful). In 1979, Ayub co-founded the African Heritage Band, potently combining tradtional rhythms with vintage and modern instrumentation. Six years, two albums and a tour of Europe later, bolstered by a series of lucrative movie roles (he played a tacit but impressive Mau Mau heavy in the film 'Kitchen Toto'), Ayub decided to check whether the world really was his oyster. Ayub arrived in the UK in 1986 and was quickly snapped up by London's African music scene. For a time Ayub played in the promising but occasionally volatile rumba band Taxi Pata Pata, along with guitarist Zak Sikobe, who he grazed knees with back in Kenya. In 1993, Ayub recorded the album En Mana Kuoyo on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. His music has also been heard on the soundtrack of the 2000 release of 'I Dreamed of Africa' and the 2005 film 'The Constant Gardener'. He has also collaborated with Susheela Raman on several tracks on her 'Salt Rain' album, such as 'O Rama'. His piece, 'Kothbiro' appears in the soundtrack of the Méxican Film 'The Blue Room' based on the novel of George Simenon. Ayub Ogada's music was used in the soundtrack for Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's BBC series Long Way Round. In addition, Ayub Ogada has collaborated with the Afro Celt Sound System on their first and fourth releases. In 2005, Ayub performed at the Live 8 concert, Eden Project as the opening act performing on a large replica of an historic Egyptian lyre. Ayub Ogada moved back to Kenya in 2007.

On the CD I just re-discovered, En Mana Kuoyo, Ayub sings gentle, almost hypnotic, and yet ultimately relaxed melodies concerning home, cattle herding, his instrument, the weather, and injustice. The music is spacious and at the same time stimulating. A brilliant CD, and I am looking forward to hearing more from him.

So as Kenyans wait for a tourism boost after Obama's election victory , we may as well expect some increased interest in Kenya's interesting culture and music, and I hope Ayub Ogada will now be (re-) discovered by many more people.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something original, unique and not commonly seen

I just discovered my third Kenyan e-commerce site, after my posts on the first Kenyan Amazon and DVD's @ 200 bob . This time something even more interesting and exciting. Do you want to treat yourself or a loved one to something original, unique and not commonly seen? Then Crystallwear may be just what you have been looking for.
Crystallwear produces jewellery using the highest quality beads and accessories. Think way beyond the common touristy Maasai beads, Crystallwear is really a class on its own. All products are hand-woven and thoroughly checked. Each piece holds a personal touch. I checked out some of their items in real life, and I must admit they are simply amazing! Even the names of the jewels are interesting, including Penelope, Emma and Rosalie. On the website you will find these stunning beauties in very attractive surroundings of driftwood and sea shells and sands.
There is the possibility to purchase items from the website, although it is not yet possible to finalise your purchase and payment online, but they are promising to work on this soon. In the meantime, you can pay by bank transfer. They will deliver to the address you want.

Monday, November 10, 2008

'Palin thought Africa was a country'

Apparently, Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa is actually a continent, she thought Africa was a country, according to a Fox News report . Can you believe it? So if Africa were a country, what would Kenya be? A province? A town? The capital of Africa?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama: First President of the World

The 44th Presidential Elections in the US have been followed with great interest and passion not only in Kenya but in all corners around the globe. Never before in the history of mankind has an election attracted such widespread attention. Barack Obama will not only be the first US president of color, but also the first Internet-president and maybe the closest we ever got to a "World President". Polls in more than 40 countries have shown an overwhelming support for Obama across the world. The world had already adopted Obama as ‘her candidate’ during the campaigning period. And despite the deeply rooted financial crisis and the crazy war policies, the United States of America is still seen as a country of hope and opportunity: the American dream is still alive, maybe even more than ever before.

I really liked Obama's Acceptance Speech, and I have the feeling that many people did. My favorite quote from his speech as a Kenyan and as world citizen is “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.” Kenyans, are we listening?

Tomorrow public holiday in Kenya, not in the US

President Mwai Kibaki has declared tomorrow, Thursday, November 6, 2008, a public holiday, in celebration of our Obama's victory. This is a great opportunity for another long week-end if you take a day off on Friday! 

President Kibaki said: “This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya. The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success."

In the meantime, in the US, people continue working. Even Election Day itself was a normal working day. A colleague was just telling me that all our partying increases poverty. Have we moved from a working nation, to a walking nation, and now to a partying nation? What do you think?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Omena with cranberry sauce

Now that we all know for sure that Obama has won the US presidential elections and Kenyans are celebrating in a jolly mood (which we wish we could have had after our own elections), let's take some time to look at some of the emerging key Obama issues:

Is Obama circumcised or not? Kenyans would love to know! His father was from a non circumcising tribe, but there are also some indications that he could have been circumcised, as shown in this interesting post by Eric Wolff.

And what about Obama's penis size? Quite important, since apparently many women voted for Obama in the opinion that he is sexy and more gifted than McCain - probably taking into account the fact that Obama has some Kenyan blood in him... Wonkette brought the world this photo of Barack Obama on holiday in Hawaii. His imaginary penis is quite okay in length, but it appears worryingly thin and may lack experience.

Some reports indicate that the traditional Thanksgiving dish of turkey with cranberry sauce is being replaced by omena with cranberry sauce. McDonald's and Burger King are introducing omena fish burgers, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is even changing its name to KFO (Kentucky Fried Omena). People from the lake region, prepare yourselves, there is going to be a huge international market for omena!