Kenyan Flag

For the last couple of days I’ve been Sad. I’m  Saddened not because my preferred presidential candidate did not win(I voted for PK by the way). Rather saddened by all the tribalism that I’ve seen being perpetuated on Social media. The level of tribalism is worse than what was seen during the 2007 elections. Generation Y the modern current generation of supposedly cosmopolitan youth proved to be no different from the older generation. A generation where the seeds of tribalism were planted.  This in the process shattering the myth that the youth of Kenya are not tribalists.

While we made fun of the foreign press who came to Kenya expecting violence and bloodshed on social media. We forget that our actions on social media were no different to the violence that rocked parts of our republic. While post election violence did not happen on the street it took place on social media with vicious tweets on Twitter and tribal status updates on Facebook. I feel the peace on the streets  is a false peace, the quiet before the storm and i fear it is a powder keg waiting to explode should a spark be applied to it.

There are underlying issues that need to be addressed.   In a democracy the majority have their way and the minority their say. While the president elect was voted in by an overwhelming 6.1 million people , there is another half of the population that did not elect him. He has to be the president to both. In his speech the president elect of the country extended an olive branch to his competitors. Expressing a willingness to work with them.  His supporters need to do the same.

The country needs each and every of the 42 tribes. For the sake of this country let’s not be tribal but tribe-all, one tribe, one people, called Kenya.


Sauti Sol_Solfilosofia

Solfilosofia album cover

The danger of new musicians making a strong début album is how to follow it up. In Music Industry lingo it’s called the sophomore slump. This is where an artiste doesn’t deliver a successful follow up to a debut album. Sauti Sol has avoided the pitfall with their recently released 2nd Album Sol Filosofia.

Sauti Sol gained recognition when they won the spotlight on Kenyan Music Talent Search at the Alliance Francaise. They released their début album Mwanzo under the Penya Record label. The group did well for themselves with a host of local and international tours.

The group soon after pioneered a breakaway style; Afro-Neosoul. A style that has seen a lot of emulation. This is shown for the number of people who sing their songs when auditioning for reality tv music shows held last year. Afro-Neosoul is not the same as Afro Fusion.

Sol Filosofia sounds like a break from the style they helped pioneer, Afro-Neosoul. The album has an ecclecteic style. You can hear influence by twist (Soma Kijana) rock (Sofia and Coming Home). A laid back reggae influence can be heard on Private Spice. The only songs that strictly conform to their original sound are Malikia and Sofia.

In Kenya, Luhya is a language that most people make fun of. This is because of the various guttural sounds in its pronunciation. Sauti Sol however make the language sound sexy in songs like Nambee and Awinja.

The album tackles various themes of social relevance. They look at Family (Row your boat, Awinja) Love (L.A.D.Y and Malikia) Heartbreak (Sofia) and Leadership (Sol Generation).

Despite the slight deviation from their début style, the band has done well to avoid the sophomore slump. The old fans will love it and new fans will be won over by the Soulful Quartet.

An innocent tweet by R&B star Trey Songz has triggered a furious backlash from a group of kenyan twitter users calling themselves #KenyansOnTwitter.

R & B star Trey_Songz

The genesis of the attacks arose from a tweet that said

Treysongz tweets

The response from #Kenyansontwitter was overwhelming that this morning, @TreySongz and #KenyansOnTwitter beacme a trending topic. Trending is when a discussion topic on twitter is so popular that it generates a buzz locally or globally.

The R & B star posted those comments after watching a documentary titled “Famous, Rich and in the slums”. It is a reality TV show that takes celebrities out of their privileged lifestyles and integrates them into a ghetto community  of Kibera.

I think #KenyansOnTwitter are making a big deal out of nothing. For starters, the man did not say say anything wrong, he was simply expressing gratitude for what he has. He is a rising music star with a succesful music career making millions (in dollars not shillings).

Secondly, those who are shouting loudly on social media don’t come from Kibera. The profile of a typical Kenyan social media user is 18-35 years old, male and female, middle to upper classes. They access the internet via their data enabled mobile phones, in university or  work, Others access it via their mobile internet modems. These people are in essence so far removed from the reality of Kibera. Though the official census results shattered the myth of Kibera being the biggest slum in Africa, it didn’t change the abject poverty that is the reality. A reality that most of this people encounter not physically but via their TV screens. They therefore lack any authority, moral or otherwise to roast Trey Songz on his twitter post.

This angry group may be reacting to what they see as an attack on their affluence rather than patriotism. The typical social media user leaves in the richer parts of Nairobi like Westlands, Kilimani, Muthaiga, Runda, muthaiga or Kileleshwa. This group suffers from an illusion of perceived affluence. Affluence they perceive a millionaire American Musician is belittling hence the hostility. As #Kenyansontwitter continue bashing Trey is probably preparing for his next global tour.

In conclusion #Kenyansontwitter need to stop behaving like sharks in a feeding frenzy. The sharks smelt blood and went for the jugular, attacking Trey taking his comments out of context.Use the power of social media instead to drive impactful social change. Address social issues and get our elected representatives to act on the issues in South Africa, people complaining of potholes on the road are prompting action to fix them. Use social media for social and regime change, Egypt did it, Tunisia did it. Why not Kenya?

Hague Six

December 15, 2010

This afternoon ICC Chief Prosecutor released the proverbial cat out of the bag. Mr. Ocampo has released the names of the 6 Kenyans bearing the greatest responsibility for Post Election Violence.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo

Speaking before members of the press in The Hague, he named Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Francis Muthaura, Major General Hussein Ali and Joshua Arap Sang as suspects.

William Ruto, Eldoret North MP

William Ruto is the former Minister for Higher Education and current member of Parliament for Eldoret North. He considered as  one of the principal planners and organizers of crimes against PNU supporters.

Henry Kosgey, Tinderet MP and Industrialization Minister

Henry Kosgey is the Minister for Industrialization and MP for Tinderet . He is also considered as  one of the principal planners and organizers of crimes against PNU supporters.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister

Uhuru Kenyatta is the deputy prime minister, Minister for Finance and Member of Parliament for Gatundu North. Mr Kenyatta is accused of financing the retaliatory violence in certain parts of the country. These retaliatory attacks were carried out by the Outlawed mungiki sect.

Major General Hussein Ali,Former Police Commissioner, Postmaster General

Major General Hussein Ali was the Police Commissioner during the post poll chaos. He bears responsibility for the shoot to kill orders on demonstrators. He bears  further responsibility for  police men failing to act as people were evicted from their homes.

Ambassador Francis Muthaura, Head of the Civil Service

Ambasador Francis Muthaura, the head of the Civil Service is on the list for issuing shoot to kill orders On ODM supporters and to facilitated attacks against ODM supporters.

Joshua Arap Sang from Kass Fm also made the list.

The post poll chaos has its roots in the 2007 general elections in Kenya. When results were dealayed and Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for Mass action

Red Call Scare

September 1, 2010

Kenyan mobile phone users have been in a state of panic over the last two days following the red call rumour.

The rumour started doing rounds on social media sites Twitter and Facebook yesterday. The rumour says that picking ip calls from a private number or the following numbers 7888308001, 9316048121, 9876266211, 9888854137, 9876715587 could cause death. The numbers  always in red  on the caller-id screen hence the name “red call”.

The rumour is causing panic as people are calling and sending SMS messges warning loved ones not to pick calls from unknown numbers. Panic that Fm stations have been fuelling in their breakfast shows.

The Kenyan Communication industry regulator, CCK (Communications Commission of Kenya) today released a statement terming the phenomenon a hoax. The Director General, Charles Njoroge in the said statement cautioned editors in mainstream media to exercise responsibility and avoid fuelling fear and despondency among Kenyans by dwelling on these baseless rumours.

The red call hoax is not a new occurence. The Hoax originated in Asia six years ago. The hoax has grown to become an urban legend.  Pakistan, Cambodia, the Maldives, Nigeria and Malawi have all experienced the hoax. People spread rumours about deaths from high frequency radiation that caused brain hemorrhage.

Mobile technology experts dismissed the rumours as lacking scientific basis. This is because mobile phones cannot emit high frequency radiation as alleged. They argue that if that was the case,then cell phones wouldnot be safe to use.

In the midst of this panic, it appears that the beneficiaries of this hoax would be Mobile Phone operators and Fm stations. Mobile operators will benefit from the large volume of calls and text messages driven by panicky and gullible Kenyans. The FM stations will generate controversy and get people to tune into their shows.

The whole thing is a hoax and should be treated as such. The security apparatus should also check into the same and stop people from causing public panic.

The mobile phone price wars today took a new turn when a Zain truck pulled up infront of Safaricom’s corporate headquarters and played the “Bend over” song by dancehall group RDX.

Zain shook up the Kenyan Mobile communications industry when they lowered their call rates last week. The rates that live consumers calling across all networks at 3shillings and 1shilling for sms. This move marked a 50% slash on calling charges a move that has many seen many subscribers switching to Zain.

Safaricom in a move to counter Zain has released its own low call tariff that will be valid for one month. Other mobile operators are yet to release competing offers.

Today’s move marked a new level of aggression in the brand warfare between Kenya’s Mobile industry giants. It will be interesting to see how Safaricom responds.

Makmende AmerudiTo someone born in the 1980s, who went to primary school in the early to mid 1990s, the name Makmende brings back a nostalgia. It takes you back to your primary school days when the strongest person in the class was called Makmende. If one started acting tough after watching Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris movies, people would ask why are you trying to be a Makmende. All said and done, who is Makmende? Makmende is the newest viral sensation from Kenya by Music Group Just a Band. Prominent Kenyan Blogger Moses Kemibaro was the first call it as Kenya’s first viral sensation.

The New music video HA HE by Just A Band has sparked a viral sensation unseen in Kenya Before. Ha He is a track of their second album 82, a follow up of their debut Scratch to Reveal. Famous for their Do-it-yourself style of production, the group makes their own beats, their own music videos and Album Art and Photography. The band had been trying to get their material played on Music video shows in the mainstream media but kept being rejected. They They then decided to release their videos on to the internet and have since grown a faithful fan base. The result, a viral sensation.

Here is the video

A viral video is a video that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through Internet media sharing websites like Youtube and social social media sites like Facebook and Twitter . Viral videos often contain humorous content. The popularity of the video grows as people watch the video, enjoy it and refer it to their friends who in turn recommend it to other friends.

The video has 1970s retro theme, inspired by American Blaxploitation movies like Shaft. In an interview with Arcade 44 Jim Chuchu said inspiration for the video was drawn form a trailler for Black Dynamite. The color, the attire and hairstyles are truly a throw back from the 1970s, Just a Band even managed to throw in a Peugeot 304 the only surviving car from the 1970s. The video avoids any shots of modern day Nairobi to give an authentic back in the day feeling.

The basic plot features the hero “Makmende”, the Suave, Bad Ass with fists of steel. Looking for something we are not told about. Makmende delivers a thorough beating to similar to Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris beating the truth out of a villain. We later learn in the video that Makmende is out to rescue a kidnapped damsel in distress. The Video has faces recognizable faces of people who took part in reality TV shows. Kevin “K1” Maina who took part in the KTN Talent search show, the Presenter, stars as Makmende. Patricia Kihoro who plays the Damsel in Distress Brittania Zimeisha was a contestant in the Music Talent Search Tusker Project Fame 3.

The names of the fictional characters are just down right humorous though you would have to be Kenyan or lived in Kenya to get the joke. Take a name like Wrong Number which is Kenyan old school slang for a Gangster or bad guy, Brittania is a brand of popular biscuits and Zimeisha is Kiswahili for they are finished so combining gives “the biscuits are finished”.

The popularity of the Makmende Character is fast spreading with the Makmende Facebook group having 29, 405 fans as of Saturday. The Rate at which the topic is growing is making it the most “twitted” topic from Kenya on Twitter. This is according to trends map ,a site dedicated to monitoring tweets from around the world on a given topic as they happen in real time. The Youtube video of “Ha He” had over 30, 000 hits The Bloggers have also jumped on the band wagon generating a lot of buzz. The Photoshop Savvy have also created fake Time, Esquire and GQ covers for their Favourite hero.

Makmende on Esquire
Makmende Man of the Year

Makmende Man of the Year

Makmende on Esquire

The kind of buzz that is currently that is currently being taken to new levels by the Makmende one-liners, the jokes on Makmende. Some of the one liners are outright funny, others disgusting, some recycled from Jack Bauer and Chuck Norris Jokes to outright tasteless. Some read,

  • Makmende can withdraw M-Pesa from his Orange line or
  • Makmende is the only person who can pocket while nude or
  • its Makmende’s world, we just live in it,
  • Always look before you leap. Unless Makmende is chasing you. Then you had better just jump.
  • The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Makmende kicked one of the corners off.

Just as Makmende fans are increasing by the day so too are the number of Makmende haters. Though small in number they too can not be ignored. There are currently a number of Anti-Makmende groups on Facebook. There are also anti-Makmende Tweets being released daily. This group can not understand why something they consider childish and a waste of time is getting the kind of coverage it is getting in the Kenyan Press , even from the international press.

With all the buzz around the Makmende Character has seen opportunists try to cash in on the phenomenon. Sites like and have quickly been established. Sadly Just a Band released a statement that said that they were not affiliated in any way to the two sites. The copyright ownership was in doubt until just a band released another statement claiming ownership of the Makmende character. A warning shot to anyone planning copyright infringement.

Makmende has currently gone global receiving recognition beyond Kenya. CNN’s Ron Riddell has been twitting about him and the online edition of the Wall street journal by Cassandra Vinograd. In Characteristic fashion, the local press only began covering the story only after the international recognition was given. The Daily Nation had a page three story on the phenomenon. KTN on the other hand interviewed the creators of the video on their Breakfast show.

This phenomenon has got those in the Advertising and Marketing circles excited and worried. Professional are trying to understand how the sensation delivered an audience of over 30,000 plus youth in a span of two weeks. Creatives in the agencies are either scared that their jobs might be at risk from the innovative youth like Just a Band. The other side of the coin is excited at the bondless possibilities of the new medium.

The dynamics of the youth market has changed, the youth dont read newspapers, dont watch Tv and dont read magazines (Unless they are at the Salon, or Doctors waiting room). One thing they however do is spend a lot of time on the Internet on their data enabled handsets. It appears that more youth are accessing the Internet via handsets rather than on PCs. The time they spend online is mostly on sites like Facebook and twitter. It shouldn’t then be lost to professionals interested in the Makmende phenomenon, the time for investing in Internet advertising and mobile applications.

If the Internet is the new play ground of the youth, wouldn’t it make sense to advertisers and marketers to try reach them there?

Generation .africa

March 17, 2010

The .com generation may soon be referred to as the .africa generation if the attempt by Dot Connect Africa to register the .africa domain name succeeds.

Dot Connect Africa, a public policy not for profit organization, wants Africa to have an on line identity through a top level domain name. This initiative hopes to help Africa bridge the digital divide.

The idea is the brainchild of Sophia Bekele and is currently in the final phase of registration. The idea was born during her tenure as an IT and policy consultant at ICANN. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the private non-profit corporation with responsibility for IP address space allocation, protol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions, the services previously performed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

Ms. Bekele, speaking during the 1% Club Technology Forum at the University of Nairobi, on Friday 12th March 2010 said “The EU have theirs .eu, Asia have theirs as .asia, so why not Africa?” Sophia said the idea initially face resistance from fellow Africans at ICANN. They were skeptical of African Governments uniting in such an initiative. The skepticism was ignored and a proposal was presented to a commission at the African Union (AU) two years ago.

The initiative earlier in the year received the support of AU heads of state and government. This happened during the 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union that took place in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Once the domain name is up and running, a hierarchical payment system will be used. This means that the inverted pyramid system used will have the lowest level being students charged student rates to register domains while corporations will be charged corporate rates which are higher. Bekele says that this would encourage many young Africans who have websites and blogs registered with .com domains to switch .africa. The long term vision is to have .africa as the real estate with everyone building their site on it.

It appears that the future of Africa in IT looks bright as generation .africa tells generation .com to move over.

Values Based Leadership

March 9, 2010

Yesterday I had the privilege of ushering at a leadership event facilitated by leadership guru John C Maxwell.  The renowned leadership and motivation speaker gave a talk on value based leadership at the Safari park hotel. Rated number one by several institutions in regards to leadership training Dr Maxwell delivered a talk to room full of the top level management of organisations like KCB, Coca Cola, Nation Medias group, CIC insurance, I & M bank.

Dr Maxwell is renowned for having trained organisations like the United Nations, the American National Football League, and a host of Fortune 500 companies. In his message Dr Maxwell insisted in Values as the most important foundation to build ones leadership on. He said that leaders in an organisation should not ask of their followers that which they don’t have, if one has no sense of honesty he should not expect his followers to have the same as the followers do as the leader does and not as he says. Maxwell has written several books on leadership like “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, “Leadership Gold”, “360 Degree Leader”. A down to earth man who interacted freely with delegates, Maxwell and took photos with them and signed books as well during the break.

The leadership guru delivered his session in a mix of humour, anecdotes and life lessons learnt over a career spanning forty years. His most powerful message for the day was the 5 levels of leadership. He said that leadership is on 5 levels, the most basic being that of position where people follow because they have to. Level two is the permission level where people follow because they want to follow. The next level is the production level where people follow you because of your track record for delivering results and what you have done for the organization. Maxwell said that at Level 4, this level was all about people development where the leader is a mentor helping others to grow and develop. Level 5 was the highest level of leadership where people follow you because of who you are and what you represent through your values. Nelson Mandela was cited as a level 5 leader.

The event dubbed a guru event was organised by Training Solutions Limited (TSL), a subsidiary of the audit firm KPMG. This is the 6th such event that TSL has organised. The organisation has brought in renowned leadership and motivation gurus and authors like Dr. Steve Covey, Tom Peters, Robin Sharma live in person and Jack Welsh via satellite feed.

Delegates to the event paid a whopping KSh 65,000 + VAT to attend the event. Expensive you might say, but the price of ignorance is more expensive.

Esther Arunga has blamed the Secret Society of Freemasons for her current problems with the media. Speaking during an interview with Jeff Koinange on the Thursday 19th February episode of Capital Talk, she also added that she broke off her engagement with her fiancee Mr Wilson Malaba due to his links with Freemasonry. The kind of information she gave about Freemasons was incredible to the extent of making her sound like a “Conspiracy Theory Nut”. The host Jeff Koinange was clearly amazed. She blamed powerful politicians who are Masons of starting the media campaign to discredit her ahead of the 2012 polls. She went on to say that she along with Finger of GOD Ministries leader Jazz Musician Joseph Hellon plan to contest the Presidency in 2012, Hellon being the Presidential candidate and Arunga as Vice President. The Former KTN news anchor has throughout the week denied claims of the being a member of a cult. The church she belongs to, Finger of GOD ministries  has been labelled a cult. Miss Arunga’s star had been rising pretty fast at KTN before she left under unclear circumstances.

Esther Arunga

Esther before her media woes

The mainstream media and bloggers have had a feeding frenzy on the topic. Esther Arunga is known to have broken her engagement to her Fiancee due to the influence of her Church. Esther has further threatened to sue certain media houses for defamation. She has specifically singled out Star Reporter Grace Kerongo who also runs the blog