Thursday, March 26, 2009

Women and parking

Extremely funny movie clip! Women trying to park - hilarious of course! Now lady drivers, please tell me, is it in your genes or what is the problem really?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gorillas getting drunk, elephants getting aroused

Some stunning pictures were taken by Andy Rouse in Rwanda suggesting that gorillas can get drunk on bamboo juice. The Daily Mail reports: "Sitting back in the foliage as if it was a cocktail bar, the mountain gorillas had been gorging on alcoholic sap from fresh bamboo shoots and were looking distinctly the worse for wear. Some were propping up the bar with a bleary air, while others staggered to their feet obviously hoping the mountain police would not ask them to walk in a straight line." The captures under the beautiful pictures are hilarious, e.g. for this picture the capture reads: "Who are you looking at? A fighting drunk Kwitondo takes offence when he's reminded that it's his round."

In other tourist and animal news, the Telegraph presents 20 of the most ridiculous complaints made by holidaymakers to their travel agent. Not surprisingly, I think the first one is the most interesting: A tourist at a top African game lodge overlooking a waterhole, who spotted a visibly aroused elephant, complained that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel "inadequate".

High time to take a break now and go on a well-deserved safari!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The wine Fest - guest post by Pink M

Welcome to history being made right here right now: for the first time ever your dearest Rafiki Kenya blog is being opened up to two well renowned guest bloggers: Nairobinotes and Pink M. A couple of weeks ago, I announced the Annual Nairobi Wine Festival in my post Get stylish and drunk. Many readers encouraged me to do a review afterwards. But unfortunately, duty called and I was not able to participate in the event this week-end. When I announced this very sad news on Twitter, these two legendary Kenyans immediately offered their services in their usual helpful and friendly way, so I decided to open up this space for them. Nairobinotes posted yesterday, mainly on the wines, and Pink M is posting today, mainly on anything else apart from the wines. Happy reading!

Just to warn the wine enthusiasts; the person doing this post knows jack about wine, is slightly tipsy at the moment, and has no recollection of the wines that led her to this state, so sorry, no wines review here.

First off, it’s a good idea to go for a wine festival with someone who doesn’t drink at all. Why? Because you get to drink doubles of everything! Duh! You also get someone to take the photos of the thing, while you’re busy downing half glasses of the stuff.

Well, got there 30 minutes late, thanks to the sun and Nairobi traffic, but that didn’t dampen my spirit. Actually, I was in the right mood for some wine. I was all melancholic and ready to be made happy…. Walk in to some very friendly reception, we get our nice glasses which we were to carry home after the shing dig. Basically, there were about 10 stands by the various wine importers, KWAL, and the makers of Sierra Beer .

The Good
  • All the attendants in the various stands were really nice, they seemed to know their thing.
  • Affordable wines. This is good because I got to sample really good wines that don’t break the bank.
  • The music!! The one man band was really awesome. He did some pretty good classics reminiscent of The Sundwoner show in KBC. I really had the intention of asking who he was on my way out. Somewhere halfway through the fest, my intentions out the window.
  • The poolside restaurant at Holiday Inn is really pretty and airy. Mental note to have a date there sometime.
  • We got a free wine glass. Nice!
The Alright
  • There was only one water dispenser to like rinse the glasses and the mouth, and it was somewhere on the 4th stand. However, the pool provided a lot of water to rinse the glasses in, too bad I didn’t want to shame my company by rinsing it in there, mouth too. I decided after all, I’m here just to drink, it didn’t matter that by wine 3, they all smelled the same to me because of the mixing and all.
  • The bitings were long in coming.
  • I know it was ‘wine tasting’ but really, they could have served more wine. I had to ask for second helpings of the stuff I liked :D
All in all, it was a fantastic experience, discovered a really good local wine Leleshwa Rosé by Rift Valley Wineries, I recruited my non drinking company into liking some of the wines, and yeah, I really should have taken Rafiki’s advice not to wear heels and have a meal. I was in the highest of them, and hadn’t had lunch. The shoes weren’t a problem until I had to walk back to the car. I’m pretty sure I’d have walked straighter in flat shoes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nairobi Wine Fest review - guest post by nairobinotes

Welcome to history being made right here right now: for the first time ever your dearest Rafiki Kenya blog is being opened up to two well renowned guest bloggers: Nairobinotes and Pink M. A couple of weeks ago, I announced the Annual Nairobi Wine Festival in my post Get stylish and drunk. Many readers encouraged me to do a review afterwards. But unfortunately, duty called and I was not able to participate in the event this week-end. When I announced this very sad news on Twitter, these two legendary Kenyans immediately offered their services in their usual helpful and friendly way, so I decided to open up this space for them. Nairobinotes is posting today, mainly on the wines, and Pink M will be posting tomorrow, mainly on anything else apart from the wines. Happy reading!

Light and refreshing wines shone brightest at this year's Nairobi Wine Show at the Holiday Inn in Westlands. Unusually hot and dry weather made heavier reds (and even heavier whites) less appealing than they would normally be at this time of year.

The festival showcased producers and estates from South Africa, Australia, Argentina and notably, Kenya. The South African wines, more familiar to my palette after living in Africa for several years, were palatable and pleasant on the whole, but the Kenyan wines were - surprisingly - the most interesting.

KWAL - the Kenyan Wine Agencies, Limited - produces a Cabernet Sauvignon from Machakos. While the wine is not extraordinary, it is serviceable and pleasant - certainly on par with the lower-end of South African wines, and surpassing Drosty-Hof (the all-too-familiar "boxi" wine served in most Kenyan bars and hotelis). The Cabernet - from Yatta Vineyards, outside of Machakos, retails for KSh 400/-.

But by far the most delicious and surprising offering was from Leleshwa vineyards outside Naivasha. Their 2007 Rose is outstanding - especially for its price. It is light and refreshing - perfect for garden parties and barbeques. It's dry - not off-dry, like so many wines here - with a heavier mouthfeel and more layers of flavour than Leleshwa's other product - a rather flat and uninteresting Sauvignon Blanc. Leleshwa's Rose is retailing at KSh 300/- - a real bargain - but is currently only availavle at the River Cafe on Limuru Road, Runda. (Past Village Market - look for the "Gourmet" sign on your left).

I hesitate to review the other wines on offer, because none of them stood out. Below, however, are my recommendations for supermaket wine picks in Nairobi, based on taste and price.

Whites
Every day: Douglas Green, The Beach House (South Africa) - light, sauvignon-based white wine
Special occasion: KWV Riesling - light, tasty, and dry.

Reds
Every day: Bellingham Dragon's Lair 2006 - this is sophisticated and delicious. It doesn't scream in your face like many Pinotage or Cabernet Franc-dominated South African wines might. (It's 84% Shiraz, 11% Mourvedre, 5% Viognier - the Mourvedre makes a difference, and gives the wine a more old-world taste than many modern South African vintages possess.)
Special occasion: Tommasi Amarone - available at Wines of the World, Kileleshwa. Reminiscent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and other cliches - while this wine was wholly inappropriate for the oppressive weather, it is delicious on a cold day, and has a subtle taste of cinnamon and raisins. It's heavy on alcohol - a small glass after an evening meal, preferably beside a roaring fire, is the best way to enjoy Amarone.

Food
No spectacular foods, though the cheeses and Farmer's Choice smokies (with fruit and olives) paired nicely with the wines on offer.

Beer
Sierra had a booth, showcasing their Blonde, Amber and Porter style beers. While the Porter is really more like an Amber, it is the best beer on offer, with rich flavors and nuttiness the others (including the so-called "Amber" and "Blonde") don't possess.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Pope is crazy

Following the Pope’s irresponsible statement in Cameroon over the use of condoms in relation to HIV/AIDS, Nathan Geffen and Rebecca Hodes of Treatment Action Campaign charge that such papal views are misguided and fly in the face of evidence around the efficacy of both condom use and sex education for adolescents. Preaching abstinence to many communities in Africa is alienating and irrelevant.

Simon Collery also did an excellent post on this issue. He is asking "Why is abstinence not proposed as a strategy to reduce alcohol or drug dependency? How about obesity as a result of overeating?" and "Why is abstinence not proposed as a strategy to reduce crime?" I think you are getting the analogy with abstinence from sex. Simon also vividly illustrates his point with an example from Nyanza: "A certain Mr Pope, a man without an electoral mandate or, indeed, without any experience of sexual intercourse or sexual relationships, thinks that abstinence is the only way to avoid HIV. Well, Mr Pope, you’re quite wrong. In Nyanza province in Kenya, women are more likely to contract HIV from their husbands. Husbands also contract HIV from their wives."

In my view, the Pope's current strategy will never be effective, so it is time for a paradigm change in the Vatican. What do you think? Can abstinence really work?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let's export KPLC's expertise to save our Planet and generate some much needed income for Kenya

Nairobi will join over 1,000 cities on March 28th in observing Earth Hour, a global event that seeks to raise awareness on the need for action by world leaders against global warming. Cities marking the event across the globe will switch off all lights on major landmarks for one hour. I found this announcement quite amusing, because we are very used to a situation without lights here in Kenya, courtesy of KPLC. How often do we go without power and lighting in Nairobi for an hour or so? It happens every week, so what is so special about this Earth Hour?

This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into "the world’s first global election", between Earth and global warming. For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote: switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF is urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard. Eighty countries have already pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009.

If Earth Hour is indeed so important to world citizens in order to save our Planet, I think we should start exporting KPLC's expertise. These guys really know all about switching off the lights for an hour or so (or even longer without special requests). Let's charge exorbitant consultancy fees to other countries to hire this expertise from us. With the income generated, we could feed some starving Kenyans or pay the costs of some interesting Commissions. Since this years's Earth Hour will also be "the world’s first global election", I am sure that WWF will also need some good expertise in how to run elections in a fair and efficient way, but I would suggest they go and look for that kind of advice outside of Kenya... What do you think?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"It's Our Turn to Eat" by Michela Wrong: My little review

Everybody knows by now what this book is about: it tells the gripping story of John Githongo, our former anti-corruption tsar. Michela Wrong reveals how several of Kibaki's cabinet ministers and aides sought to conceal fraudulent deals to help steal billions of shillings. It's an interesting story about corruption, ethnicity, dishonest leadership, power plays, looting, betrayal, generational conflict, patronage... In short, it is about some of those very disturbing facets of our beautiful, blossoming Kenya in this vast African continent with plenty of potential for sustainable development and a young generation full of bright ideas and hope .

The book is excellently written with lively and detailed narratives. Michela Wrong's artistic talents, her brutal honesty and her reflective and stinging humorous style of writing have won the respect and out-and-out approval of readers. Though an outsider, Michela Wrong knows Kenya and Kenyan politicians better than most of us. I myself really learned a lot and I feel like I know my country better after reading it. To me, the book is really a must-read, no question about that. But right now I just need some time to reflect on the book, and determine what implications it has for a potential brighter future for Kenya, what paradigm shifts we need for real change, and what my role could be in order to optimally contribute to a new era for Kenya and Kenyans.

Unfortunately, the book is still hard to find in Nairobi (although it is not banned at all), but the Nairobi Star is now running a daily competition giving away "the book Kenyan shops are afraid to sell". You can send an e-mail to 'win [at] nairobistar.com' with your name and phone number to enter the draw.

The book is also available from Amazon in the UK, and is delivered in Kenya without problems:


Illegal copies of the book are available on the Internet, but before you start searching, please read Michela Wrong's position on this ("please have a heart and don’t pass it around like this" she is rightfully saying) and resist the temptation. On the other hand, I would like to encourage the publisher to make the e-book available for legal sale as soon as possible. HarperCollins is apparently planning the release of the e-book for June 23rd, but why does this have to take so long if illegal softcopies are already circulating on the Internet?

UPDATE (9 April 2009): It looks like Michela Wrong or HarperCollins have heard our plea for an official release of the e-book and it is now available for purchase at a fair price here. Thanks a lot for this!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The longer the better?

Don't get me wrong, this post is not about penis length. It is about the length of your fingers instead. Sorry to disappoint you. But read on, the length of your fingers could tell you something about your sexual orientation among other things.

In general, long fingers are a sign of refinement. A short stubby hand argues a lack of sensibility.

Long ring fingers
Long ring fingers may display some other characteristics, mainly attributed to higher testosterone levels while developing in your mother's womb (the shorter the index finger relative to the ring finger, the higher the amount of prenatal testosterone):
So go and measure your fingers now, and let me know about the results. (And while you're at it, why not measure that other organ as well, if you have one?)

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's Our Turn to Read

I got my copy today of the book "It's Our Turn to Eat" by Michela Wrong. Shipping from the UK to Kenya seems to work fine. I'm off reading now, but if you are still waiting for your copy of the book, you could already have a look at the very nice overview of articles and extracts of the book by Stephanie (Inari Media) here in the meantime. See you later.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Get stylish and drunk

The Annual Nairobi Wine Festival will be taking place at the Holiday Inn in Westlands, Nairobi on Friday 20th March 2009 (5 - 9 pm) and Saturday 21st March 2009 (3 - 7 pm). The wine festival is a unique opportunity to taste over 80 wines from around the world. Cost is KSh 1,300 per person. Tickets include unlimited wine tasting, crackers, bitings, live music, a donation to the Mount Kenya Trust, and a branded wine tasting glass to take home. I am planning to attend in my usual capacity as someone who knows too little about wine except how to drink it.

Wine festivals are quite nice. They allow you to pretend that you are engaged in a very sophisticated activity (i.e. tasting wine) when in reality, all you are doing is getting drunk.

Society doesn't like drunkenness nowadays. Get drunk at a party and you are a boozer. Get drunk in a bar and you are a loser. Get drunk at home and you are a degenerate anti-social boozer. But the Annual Nairobi Wine Festival are the exception. Get drunk at the Annual Nairobi Wine Festival and you are trendy, stylish and classy.

It’s pretty easy to get drunk in a situation where you could theoretically taste more than 80 wines (though I’m not sure if anyone would actually have time for that, since there’s some chatter involved - my target is to sip about 40 in 4 hours).

The quality of wine is important only to the kind of irritating people who spit their wine out after tasting it, and these are not people you would have in your home, especially if you’ve got a new white shirt or new carpets.

The first glass of the day should be carefully chosen and politely requested. “I’d like to try a little of your Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 if I may.” Start your tasting modestly. Assess colour, aroma, body and legs. Swirl the wine around the glass, examine, and delicately inhale before sampling. Purse your lips, furrow your brows. Note subtle details in flavour and discuss quietly. Drop words like 'palette', 'aftertaste', and 'hints of blackberry' into the conversation. Comments such as “I prefer the 2006 Merlot”, “It’s a little harsh on the throat”, and “Oh, it’s very smooth” may also be of help.

The second glass follows. And then the third, the fourth and the fifth.

Soon the wine is requested more efficiently: “A glass of your Sauvignon Blanc please mate.

Lips are no longer pursed, brows remain unfurrowed. The swirling and inhaling is merged into a single routine inspection. Comments become briefer and louder; “Yeah, it’s not bad” and “This is all right” and “Let’s have another one of these”.

More glasses are sampled. More vineyards are visited. Swirling and inhaling is replaced by gulping. Comments are now very short, to the point, sometimes shouted: “Good” and “Bloody good” and “Jeezes, really bloody good”.

I think you are getting my point and you can see where this may be going... Some final tips:
  1. Eat a meal beforehand. You’ll stay sober longer. You may want to follow your festival experience with a another meal afterwards. 
  2. Consider a designated driver, a taxi, or even a hotel room (rooms at the Holiday Inn are quite nice by the way). This may be the opportunity for a romantic evening if you missed out on Valentines.
  3. Dress comfortably. There is no need for high heels, ladies. You can look cute and trendy and leave the stilettos at home, you will be walking a bit and standing a lot. Wear dark colors. Even if you manage to avoid spilling red wine on yourself, someone else might spill some on you. 
  4. Get there early. People start filtering in late and things get crowded. Enjoy being early.
Tickets are limited and available from: The Holiday Inn, The Wine Schop in Kileleshwa, The Gourmet Gallery at Rosslyn River Garden and at the door. For more information call +254 716 555 118.