Hosted by Goethe-Institut, contemporary artist Michael Soi presents a series of 17 paintings celebrating women from all over Nairobi, bringing you different takes on the...
When award-winning editorial cartoonist Gado went to France and saw Les Guignols on television, he realized that this was exactly what Kenya needed—a humorous and piquant puppet show. And believe it or not, Latex Satirical Caricatures have created a platform, The XYZ Show. It tackles dire political issues and spurs dialogue on corruption, all with a good dose of fun involved. The television show is inviting and unifying, and the humor is a welcome change of pace.
We tune into XYZ and tune on to a growing wave of national consciousness. Finally, our political deities are not so powerful; we are not so powerless after all. With characters as diverse as Kibaki and Obama, this season even boasts Mr. Wuu, a Chinese contractor and father of all Sino-Kenyan babies on Thika Road.
How does one find a balance between being the critical and the humorous? Brian Kyallo-Msafiri, the director of XYZ, gives insight into how a show so hilarious can contribute to building our nation.
In your view, what are the four overarching problems our country faces?
In my view, this would be endemic tribalism, corruption, poor governance and voter apathy.
How is The XYZ Show exploring this?
In the show, from the president to the Prime Minister, down to the common man, there are no sacred cows! No one is above the law or beyond reproach. We’ve had skits of the Maize Scandal, the Kazi Kwa Vijana Scam and the Education Ministry Money Scandal. This open satire has really changed how Kenyans view elected politicians and politics.
What do politicians say about the show?
Raila Odinga loved our Kigeugeu spoof of him. Presidential aspirant Martha Karua even gave us a surprise visit and took pictures with her puppet! I guess they understand that, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Did the post-election violence influence the show?
It actually motivated XYZ to come into the picture. At the time, ethnicity was a very sensitive topic to discuss. We tackled and broke down the fears that existed; we went all out and made fun of sensitive issues. Our skits played on cultural stereotypes and showed how unreal they were. XYZ debunked myths that influence our traditional voting habits. We encouraged conversation. Tribalism is still rife in Kenya. My hope for the upcoming elections is that the country will unite behind a cause and not a tribal chief.
What did you do during the Hague-ICC 6 hype?
In fact, season four is labeled The Hague Edition. We even introduced a Boy Band called Six2Hague—their name was spoofed from Boyz II Men. Six2Hague sang End of the Road! We did various skits with Ocampo and ICC judge Ekaterina Trendy flavor. In fact, Judge Trendy flavor made quite a show—she was even interviewed by Keff Joinange!
What future do you envision for Kenya?
I dream of a Kenya with one-hundred percent literacy! A country where we are self-reliant and do not have to rely on food aid, water flows into every homestead, and art and culture is our cornerstone.
The XYZ Show airs every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on K!SS TV.
"We’ve got the plan, just bring your moods” is the inviting tagline at Blancos Lounge and Grill. From sultry Kidum to funky Kwaito, the music playing at Blancos is as alluring as the sweet aroma of African dishes cooking in their kitchen. The sizeable restaurant has a veranda and lounge/bar area, dubbed “Clay”, “Mahogany” and “Mazera”, after the materials used to make the floor. The menu is in Swahili with English translations. George’s interest in cooking was influenced by both his mother, a caterer, and a French cookbook he purchased with his first savings while in high school.
He’s been in the hotel industry for more than ten years now. At Blancos, he heads three other chefs and a steward. Kifua rojo (chicken breast cooked in coconut, cheese and tomatoes) and Mataya ya kiti moto (grilled pork chops cooked in sauce) are just a few selections from the endless list of meals to savour. (The latter actually left me licking my fingers.)
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
I’ve eaten a lot! But at the top was cat meat—unbeknownst to me! I used to work for an organization that liked rabbit meat. But unfortunately, the supplier was providing us with cat meat instead. After the second delivery, I noted the difference in taste and when we cornered [him], he confessed.
Where do you celebrate your birthday?
I am at work most times. So when I find time to celebrate, I let my wife (also a good cook) make dinner. And then we invite a few friends over.
What do you cook when no one’s looking?
Pasta and some heavy tomato sauce. I worked. in an Italian restaurant and my first encounter with pasta was pleasant. I really enjoy cooking and eating it.
What are you famous for?
At Blancos, we fuse African dishes with a modern Western twist, and our customers love it! Among various dishes, we make stir fried matumbo, chicken and lamb casserole, mukimo and vegetable curry. I’m personally known for Mboga Swahili, a tasty vegetable dish comprised of coconut, carrots, red pepper and dressing, among other ingredients. I have had it at a different restaurant, but it didn’t match up to the one we make here.
What makes up a good, healthy African dish?
There’s no limit to this. All you have to do is watch the calories/fats in various foods. Most of our specials are quite healthy. We have Muthokoi (a traditional Kamba dish made from maize, cassava and vegetables), Kishumba (traditional Taita meal made out of bananas and beans), or steamed fish served with brown Ugali.
If you were on Death Row, what would be your last meal?
Why would I be on death row? (Laughs out loud.) Anyway, I would ask for chocolate Mseto (cooking chocolate mixed in various spices) dessert and a cup of black coffee. It tastes so good, I wouldn’t mind if that was my last memory.
Blancos Lounge & Grill is located at Timau Plaza off Argwings Kodhek Road.
A drive down memory lane takes me back to the scrumptious Moonflower. For the first time in nearly a decade, I stepped foot in Moonflower again, and the scenes of decadence and revelry came flooding back. Back in the day—“PMK” (pre- modern Kenya, circa 2001-ish)—I cut my girly journalistic teeth on the hard, liquor- swilling, bullet-dodging card sharks of he Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA).
This core Darwinian tribe of war hacks held a weekly, private, uninhibited poker game in the back, back room of the Moonflower. I felt lucky to join their ranks, particularly as I was the first female they let inside their sacred circle. It took some...uh... cajoling, but that’s another story. The scene was a classic Western: smoke-filled, stern- faced and filled with the banter of survival stories from the wild plains of Somalia, or the battlefields of Sudan. I felt cool, being with the in-crowd that night, but the coolest factor of all was playing at the Moonflower. We ate and drank like kings then, and I remember well its perfectly-prepared burger and superb service. Back in PMK, the number of great restaurants in Nairobi could be counted on two hands—and Moonflower was among them.
While the poker playing and rabble rousing has moved on from its cool backroom vibe, little has changed in the quality category. If anything, Moonflower is a shinier, more improved version of its old self, particularly in light of the modern Palacina Interiors makeover. The fact that it’s still going strong after some 12 years is a testament to its superior product and service. On that note, I can say emphatically that Ruth, our server, was outstanding, and she provided some of the best table service I have seen in Kenya in all the years I’ve called this place home. Standing-O. We went on a Thursday—two- for-one margarita night—and sat by the fire sipping our drinks in no hurry to get to our outdoor patio table. One of the best attributes of the Moonflower is its coziness, and nowhere is this more true than next to the bar, warming your soul by firelight. You may never want to leave. On the ordering part, we didn’t hold back: peppercorn chicken wings, coconut flaked popcorn shrimp and scrumptious little crab cake balls were the appetizers. In five minutes, not a morsel was left and we were thirsty for more of Moonflower’s superb house Cabernet wine. For the mains, we targeted a smorgasbord of culinary treats.
My husband had the roasted duck with an orange, ginger, soy glaze (I ate half); our dinner dates went for seafood—a creamy, smoked-salmon linguini and a roasted red snapper, respectively. For me, as always, the star of the show is what I ordered: a traditional seafood pie with a filling of brandy-cream lobster and prawns. I am told this is the sex issue of UP, and well, this was as close to orgasmic as food can get. For dessert, we had four spoons tucking into a beautiful display of strawberry rhubarb pie, topped with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream. This took me back to my home, and my grandmother, and I wanted to weep openly. Dinner, of course, is always more than the food, and Moonflower presents an excellent setting for good friends and conversation. We sat down at 8:00 p.m. and left at midnight. There are very few places I can have a four-hour dinner, but Moonflower is perfect for it. I am thankful that the staff there didn’t recognize me from my gambling days, or they may have shown me the door. Moonflower is located on Kitale Lane, off Dennis Pritt Road.
Hailing from a new-school breed of Kenyan MCs, “Point Blank” Evumbi is a student of the early 90s hip hop, reminiscent of Large Professor, Eric B & Rakim and Pete Rock. Point Blank is not your traditional recording artist. He is a killer-cypher MC, gaining prominence when he became the 2009 Kenyan Champion of the continental rapping contest, Emcee Africa 2. From many platforms, such as the stages of WAPI and airwaves of Ghetto Radio, Point Blank has been working on his music for awhile.
You hear this in his intro, “Its Finally Here”, where the hunger and determination in his voice comes through. On the playful piano riffed “Pizza and Soda”, Point Blank explores a lazy Saturday tale of afternoon blues that ends up at a food joint. He affirms his love for West Coast hip hop on the laid back, Dre- influenced “Westside”. Here he gives props to his favorite rappers from that region— Snoop, Ice Cube and WC—for influencing him. Point Blank breaks down his hip- hop history on the Pete Rock CL Smooth sampled “My Whole Life”.
The head- banging “One and Only” is a warning to weak MCs to steer away from the industry. He warns of the ills of hype on “Celeb”, a catchy tune. Lyrically, Point Blank is on point. He avoids subscribing to the club-bangers’ formula, a fact that may not get him top radio airplay, but may instead earn him a back-pack MC label. On Volume One, he explores matters close to his heart, such as love, relationships, his life’s purpose, and hip-hop career. Point Blank is definitely on the map as an MC to watch in Kenya. He now needs to translate this into records. Volume One is produced by Big Mic of Big Beats, another monster MC, producer and winner of the 2008 Emcee Africa contest. Listen to a sample of Point Blank's music at www. soundcloud.com/point-blank-evumbi.