Mark Kaigwa

Posts Tagged ‘Heartwork’

[Video] OK Go – This (Ukwelii blogging silence) too shall pass

In Perspective on April 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm

To make up for the blogging silence so far, I’m giving you a couple videos that have over the past couple of months caught my eye or I know will enthuse you as I prepare for a return to the interwebs…If you’re looking to catch up on where I’ve been  you can check my Posterous Blog “Ukwelii wa mambo” – lot’s of nice snippets and titbits of my daily trails along the web and the universe

Below is rock band OK Go who (with a little help from insurance company State Farm) made this viral video which captivated me with it’s use of a Rube Goldberg Machine (that “simple” contraption that works throughout the video)

I’m sure you’ll be fascinated for the moment…And yes, this blogging silence shall pass. Consider this the beginning.

“Makmende Returns” – Hilarious new Just A Band Video

In Film on March 17, 2010 at 7:56 am

This had me laughing hysterically. A must watch. A must share.

The new Just A Band video. Directed by Jim Chuchu and Mbithi Masya

Starring Kevin “K1” Maina, Patricia Kihoro, Mbithi Masya, Kibugi Wamae, Mugambi Nthiga, Renee Sewe, Kwame Oddenyo, PA Okaalet, Kevin “K2” Maina, Moses Wataka, Lucille Kahara and Diana Nduba.

It’s the song “Ha-He” from their 2nd Album 82 – Just A Band – An Experimental Boy Band.

Kuweni Serious – Waking a Sleeping Generation of Kenyans

In Perspective on December 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Young people in Kenya are no strangers to controversy, it must be said. The perpetrators of Kenya’s post-election violence in the last elections used the youth to execute their agendas.

It’s about time somebody spoke up and like Obama will tell you, there’s no better time than now.

Introducing Kuweni Serious ~ Swahili for ‘Get Serious’


They have some serious points of view for ‘young people’ seeing as they are the firebrands of a sleeping generation.

Kenya’s youth have largely been characterized as hedonistic generation of brand-obsessed youth, moving from party to party in the night and congregating on Facebook during the day – using TV, music and brands as our badges, our ID. We’re the Moi generation – the ones who grew up on the now-defunct “Maziwa ya Nyayo” school milk. We watched our parents root for and obtain multi-partyism, and we watched the country shrivel up and almost die under years of Moi’s rule.

And they are not afraid to call out the issues that plague young people in Kenya today.

We’re detached from the affairs of the country, they say – picking our addictions (which one will it be? Drugs, sex, TV, alcohol or God?) while the country burns. Perhaps it is true – what would you expect from a generation who are continuously referred to as “tomorrow’s leaders” in a country where people like one Mr. Kibaki have been in government for as long as Kenya has had a government? Tomorrow never comes, so we might as well carry on with our lives and forget about politics.

Here’s one of the videos on Kuweni Serious featuring George Gachara of Picha Mtaani of which needs a blog post from me too. He speaks candidly on the role of the media in Kenya, and his prediction of what will happen in 2012.

So as you can see, there is a debate that ought to be going on, young person to young person. More on Gachara’s interview here. Note: Youth in Kenya is anyone under 35. Kuweni Serious are trying to put a spotlight and include thought leaders on what we really ought to be thinking about, seeing as youth continue to be the majority of voters in this country.

It is perhaps only when our country was set on fire that we began to see how deeply politics affects us. A few months later, we were paying hitherto-unheard-of prices for fuel, there was water rationing, and power rationing, and then food started to run out. Only then did many more of us realize that we can’t hide forever in the company of the Lil’ Wayne’s and Prison Breaks of this world. Perhaps it is only when our comfort zones were threatened that we realized that our leaders, our “Honorables” are self-obsessed, thieving, murderous idiots. Honorables, indeed.

Blinky Bill, member of Just A Band and overall inspiring dude is honest when asked why he thinks we’re a whining nation, and why he thinks we keep voting in the same old people into Government.

Which moves us on to the real question on youth. Staring it face-to-face and asking people what matters.

And so we at Kuweni Serious – we’re a bunch of kids ourselves – have decided to go out there and find out: how do Kenya’s youth feel about all the chaos around us? Are we proud to be Kenyan or are we secretly wishing we could get green cards and disappear forever? Where shall we raise our own kids? Are we happy?

Convener of the National Youth Convention, Emmanuel Dennis, gives outspoken insight into why we can’t give up on this nation and why the youth seem so apathetic and detached from politics.

Food for thought.

We intend to seek out all the young people out there who are trying to make sense of all this, the youth groups, the activists, the people who read the news and get so annoyed that they write angry status updates on Facebook, the students, the guys and girls who’ve just landed their first job and have been hit hard by the realities of the economy. We want your opinions, we want your stories. We don’t know what we’ll find, we might step on a few toes, but we’ll do our best.

Join Us. Kuweni Serious.

And there’s plenty more where all this came from including a poignant piece by Njoki Ngumi, as well as interviews with award-winning photographer Boniface Mwangi, journalist Abdullahi Ahmed and more. Follow Kuweni Serious on Twitter and Join them on Facebook too.

As Obama said – The time for change is now.

29th October 2009

Kenya’s youth have largely been characterized as hedonistic generation of brand-obsessed youth, moving from party to party in the night and congregating on Facebook during the day – using TV, music and brands as our badges, our ID. We’re the Moi generation – the ones who grew up on the now-defunct “Maziwa ya Nyayo” school milk. We watched our parents root for and obtain multi-partyism, and we watched the country shrivel up and almost die under years of Moi’s rule.

A Conversation on Conservation – My post at TEDxNairobi

In Perspective, Uncategorized on December 7, 2009 at 6:58 am

I’m one of the curators of TEDxNairobi and though I wasn’t in attendance at the inaugural event (was busy working on my first film – Dawa <– Follow them on Twitter!) I was able to do the awesome planning with the great members of the Dream Team – Joshua, Phares, Sheila, Soud, Kim and Lina. If you’re unfamiliar with TED and their independently organised events have a look-see below.

TEDx was created in the spirit of TED‘s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.

At TEDx events, unique talks given by live speakers combine with TEDTalks videos to spark deep conversation and connections. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

One of the speakers at TEDxNairobi was Conservationist and CEO of Wildlife Direct, Paula Kahumbu, of whom you should already be following on Twitter, she’s awesome, trust me. She gave a great talk, of which I blogged about on the TEDxNairobi blog. Have yourself a look-see and enjoy A Conversation on Conservation on the official TEDxNairobi blog:

Engaging Conversation on Conservation in Africa

Paula Kahumbu speaking at TEDxNairobi

Paula Kahumbu Speaking at TEDxNairobi

A self-confessed tree hugger, Paula Kahumbu opened by reminding us how extraordinarily privileged Kenya is as a country as far as diversity is concerned, and how most times, it’s taken for granted by Kenyans themselves. By demonstration when she asked to see those in the crowd who had been to a National Park in the last month, only a handful inferred to the affirmative. It brought life to her statement!

She shared on how Kenya has one of the world’s largest diversities of bees – over 1500 species.

We assume the Maasai Migration is going to be around for generations (for those who’ve not seen it already.)

Her second confession was that she didn’t have a television. Her veranda is her television from her home on the edge of the Nairobi National Park and you can always follow her amazing tweets and extraordinary wildlife pictures. […Read More…]

Make sure you have a look, and a special thanks to WildlifeDirect‘s  Baraza for sharing it on their blog too. If you’d like to know more about TEDxNairobi have a look at the posts on all their Speakers. Amazing list with the likes of Aly Khan Satchu, Boniface Mwangi, Kwame Nyongo and Tonee Ndungu and Nyokabi Musila.

You can always follow my TEDxNairobi Twitter list here.

Don’t forget to stay in the loop on the next TEDxNairobi! Fan them on Facebook and Follow TEDxNairobi on Twitter.

See No Evil, Taste No Evil, Shave No Evil

In Perspective, Real Talk on May 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Every week I head over to Mbugua’s for my ‘cut’ it’s one of the highlight’s of my week. I usually arrive anytime between 8 and 9 PM.  clip_image001

The fluorescent glow seeps through the chicken wire of Mbugua’s barbershop onto the South B’s macadam road. And like flies to a flame, there’s always activity in the busy nano strip-mall of shacks and hutches. As you already know, Mbugua has his place right next to Sam’s. I tried to be diplomatic, going to Sam’s every once in a while, especially when I saw that Mbugua’s place has one or two customers waiting. But great stories and a guaranteed laugh locked me down at the ‘Good Look Barbershop’ for life.

It’s funny because Sam’s is actually a better looking barbershop. It has a better sound system, Mbugua didn’t have one for a while, and the collage of 2 inch-thick boards that separate them don’t do much as soundproofing, so if at Mbugua’s you have the pleasure of sharing Sam’s sound. That’s changed recently, with Mbugua getting his own sounds, but his dreams are still a while away. It’s always interesting trying to have a conversation in between two wanna-be sound systems. As if matatus weren’t bad enough. It makes either for an amusing conversation, or a frustating shouting match.

clip_image002So each week I step into his cozy, yet awkwardly leaning barber chair I ready myself to hear what a week he’s had, and what the latest is. This particular time, I found Mbugua at the video library next door to the butchery playing ‘poker’ with a couple guys. (In Kenya people know ‘Crazy Eights’ as ‘Poker’) I take one look at him and thought ‘Wow, things must be going well for him, he’s put on some weight, his face and his cheeks are looking a whole lot rounder’. I watched the game as he ‘ate’ their proceeds. I went ahead of him to wait for him at his place as he wrapped up the game. I hear an outcry that Mbugua has to come back because this guy has no money left. Mbugua had pocketed a cool Ksh. 800 ($10).

Mbugua arrives with an awkward smirk on his face. I took a closer look at his face, and saw some disparity. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something looked off. I asked Mbugua how he’d been, and staring at his face through the mirror in front of me I realised one side of his face was swollen. He still had this smile on his face, so I didn’t ask, but it was hard not to stare. There was no visible bruising, so I became curious to what might have caused it.

" Mzeiah huskii meno yangu ilikuwa imenisumbua.

(Man, you wouldn’t believe how my tooth was killing me)" He said. "

Sikuwa nikikula, natafuna na side moja.

( I was barely eating; chewing with only one side of my mouth)"

I proceeded to laugh, he says things in such a farcical way I couldn’t help it. It didn’t take long for me to realise this was a bit of a serious moment, but he’s never to be taken too seriously, so I laughed again.

I told him I thought he was doing well for himself, putting on weight. He chuckled. Mbugua said he’d not been able to sleep for nights and had trouble eating, as his face got swollen, and the pain got worse. He found himself in a quandary between removing the tooth ‘kienyeji’, which amounted to removing it himself, or going to a dentist. I kept bursting into laughter as he continued to narrate his experience to me.

" Nilishindwa kulala. Siwezi lalia uso side hii

(I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t lie down on the swollen side of my face)" He said.

He had to lie on one side of his face at night, he said. And his mouth became so hot, he had a big jug of water next to where he lay on the floor, waking up every 10 minutes to take another mouthful to cool him. My laughter at this point almost cost me another haircut, he almost made a ‘mistake’ so I decided to hold it in as he continued the story.

"Eh, sikuwa veri. Asubuhi  Asubuhi nikachukua ma-painkillers na bado. Naskia tu kichwa ni ka inalia ‘pu-pu-pu’"

(Man, I wasn’t in great shape. In the morning I took some painkillers and I still wasn’t good. I felt like my head would throb ‘pu-pu-pu’."

He later realised that he had to go to the dentist and proceeded to book an appointment with one. I asked him what kind of dentist this was, he didn’t say much. But I was pretty sure it wasn’t some loony with a couple syringes and some of those ‘toothbrush branches.’ You know, some kook with some mwarubaine for anaesthesia and other ‘herbs’ with a ratchet/secateurs for ‘tools’…Scary.

So he got the tooth removed, and Mbugua was quick to tell me I hadn’t seen anything yet. Things had looked far worse the day before. I quipped asking if his head felt heavier on one side. He gestured that his clippers could make a couple mistakes on my head to make it ‘heavier on one side.’ I went silent. For that moment.

He said it was better now; he had become a bit more used to the meds. But for his unlucky clients the day before, he was feeling much drowsier from the first doses of the medicine. It also didn’t help that he didn’t have a mirror up. ( So the clients had no idea what he was doing)

"Kwanza huskii niliget customer mwingine hapo mpya! Hajainyolewa na mimi. Nikamskiza mastory, nikamweka kut poa.Karibu nimguze maskio. Si ningeitana. Hao wengine hata walisema hawajali, wataniamini tu."

(Can you believe I got a new client? (with no mirror) He’d never been shaven by me. I talked some stories with him and gave him a good cut. But I almost sliced his ear, aww man, I would’ve had it then. For the other (customers) they said they didn’t care. They would trust me."

I could imagine going, getting a shave, and trusting him without ever seeing the finished product. I’d trust him. I wouldn’t think twice about it. Don’t know how the new guys felt about it that day.

This is probably the edited version of his travels, but it was such a hilarious story I was compelled to share. I continue to witness to Mbugua one step at a time. He’s a bit of a showoff and doesn’t hesitate to tell me that he has a sugar-mummy or his total disinterest in marriage. So it’s all baby steps. Baby steps.

See no Evil. Taste no Evil. Shave no Evil

Penguins by estherdh

 

Photos by Oaxania, Lotor-Matic and Esterdh

TRNSMSSN by Just A Band

In Happenings on April 21, 2009 at 11:42 am

JAB

Just A Band, everybody’s favourite band-cum-Kenyan-electronica-amazingness-group have been commissioned by The Goethe Institute with works of video art for their first art show! Here’s a snippet of what’s going down…

Broken synthesizers and fragmented satellite broadcasts from the future provide a fictionalized Kenyan future;
panicked astronauts, lovelorn puppets, a flying tortoise, the meaning of life, an experimental boy band and a sprinkling of sparkly stuff…”

The show runs from Tuesday May 5, 2009 to Saturday May 16, 2009 and will feature premieres of new music videos from Scratch To Reveal and their soon-to-be-released second album – 82 (We now know it’s name!)

Just A Band will mark the finissage with END_TRNSMSSN, a DJ set of their favourite house, electro, pop and funk tunes! And I’m looking forward to that as well.

Entry free….You can’t afford not to be there!

I consider Just A Band as visionaries in the industry and the clearest breath of fresh air in the Kenyan music industry.

If you’re on Facebook, here the link to the event, you can RSVP and do invite others, they’ll be so mad at you if you go alone!

A map to the event, courtesy of Google Maps.

Just A Band: Blog | Youtube | Web | Jim Chuchu |

This Mother Tree – A Poem for ‘Maitu’

In Poetree, Real Talk on January 23, 2009 at 6:36 am

This is an original poem I composed and performed at my Great Grandmother’s funeral service.

———-This Mother Tree———

God made a seed.

He said to himself

This… will be a great seed.

God planted the seed.

This Mother Seed, He said, will truly be a Great Seed.

He planted it on the most fertile ground.

Small in size, the seed was.

God said

This Mother Seed, will be of great stature of heart.

God watered the seed.

With love.

He fed the seed with faith at His feet.

And God was happy

As This Mother Seed flowered and grew

Fruitful.

This seed grew to be a tree

This mother tree, God Said, will be a great tree

A grand tree for all to see

This mother Tree bore fruit for all to see

They bathed in God’s warm light

And the shade of This Mother Tree.

Giving shade to new seedlings

Nuances of light

Enough to grow strong

Standing tall, This Mother Tree

Taught how to thrive and be strong.

Bringing life to all.

Yes

This Mother Tree bore fruit.

Fruits of laughter.

Fruits of joy

Fruits of Girls and Boys

Fruits of Gifts from Above

Fruits of Bundles of Love.

Seasons came and seasons past.

This mother’s influence and love has last.

This mother Tree

Swaying

Peacefully in the wind.

In us is a seed.

And This Mother Tree remains

Eternally

In You.

In Me.

Thank God for His little seed.

Love you Maitú Bella.

© 2008-2009 Mark Wambugu Kaigwa. All Rights Reserved. And all wrongs reversed 🙂

Uncovered Roots: The Journey of My Grandparents

In History's Future, Perspective on January 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Today was an amazing day as far as rediscovering and tracking back in time to find out about the family tree.

My cucu (grandma) on my Dad’s side took the family on a tour of where life began for her, and how it developed from the 1950’s when they first moved to Nairobi. We visited the very place that my aunt, Tata Bush, was born. Which was a house just off Jogoo Road in Kaloleni at a small 1 bedroom bungalow known as D16. We also went through Ofafa Jericho, Maringo, Buru Buru, Hamza, Maendeleo and a host of other nooks and crannies of Eastlands area of Nairobi.

It was amazing to see where my grandma first stayed, to see the shop my grandfather first opened here in the city. The story behind that is actually pretty amazing. It goes that they owned one of some 20 shops that form a cul-de-sac  of shops encircling a space that functions as the parking lot. At this shop, my grandfather would sell amenities and kerosene. The shop was called Kaigwa General Stores and sold groceries, sugar, salt, marbles for the kids and everything in between.

We met a man who was 2nd Generation butchery owner, and he recognized my father, and some of his siblings.  They had been running his butchery for fifty years now, and they had a dark room of sorts on the inside. The dark room being the room we passed through to get through to the back. It was lit by lonely streaks of light through the fifty year old corrugated fiberglass on the roof. It lit conspicuously onto a tray of matumbo that four middle-aged men were happily sharing over banter. We slid through the dim corridoor to the other side where we found the back wall. The story behind the back wall was equally amazing.

At the famed Kaigwa General Stores and all the other stores like it in the cul-de-sac, there was a practice less spoken of, yet practiced quite regularly. And it ought to be, considering what it was. Back in these days, the mid to late 50’s the sewerage system had not been fully developed in the African quarters that were Eastlands. All Africans would stay in Eastlands, from Kaloleni to Makadara. From what I’m told Makadara was comparable to the finest estates in the city now, and you had to somebody to stay there. Makadara is where the shop was, and remains to this day, though under a different name – Nyagachuhi General Store. The complex where it’s located is now called Hamza Shopping Centre, in Hamza Estate, on Hamza Road, off Jogoo Road. I should Google Map this, just so you can get the aerial view. I will.

So, back to this practice. Basically all they had for a sewerage system was a bucket. Yes, a bucket. The bathroom contained a bucket, and you would do your business, number 1 or number 2, and leave it be. At the end of the day, a handful of city council men with a truck would come round the back, and collect the buckets. The funny thing, because I asked the stupid question ” What happened if you weren’t done yet?”, was that you had to hold whatever you were doing once they grabbed the bucket. You could never for any reason continue to do your do-do once you heard a hand stick through the wall and grab the bucket.

The back wall of the complex had about two-by-two bricks missing at the bottom of the wall. They would stick their hands through the wall, mostly  unannounced, to grab your bucket. As I said, if you were halfway, you would hold, and wait until the bucket was returned. If you dared to continue what you were doing, ignored them or told them to wait, you were in trouble, big smelly trouble; they would either throw the bucket back or pour the contents over your floor, and consequently your feet. You didn’t want to mess with them. And so, you didn’t. God forbid you ever, for any reason got anything on the hand that grabs your bucket. You’ll be sorry.

One of the most amazing stories of the day, was how at the Kaigwa General Stores at Makadara, My late grandfather got the first Kerosene pump in the whole complex and one of the only ones in Eastlands. With it, he got ahead of the curve by creating one of the first neon signs that side of town. Here’s what I mean by neon: it was an electric box that hung from the canopy right outside the door of the store. On the outside it had a message written with little yellow lights and it read ‘Ukai mwone uriru’ which translates from Kikuyu to English to read ‘Come and See the Amazing Wonders’ and it didn’t just bring customers, it helped keep them.

At the bottom of the electric box were two yellow light bulbs, and these would flicker on and off every couple seconds. The real story comes from how all the kids would react, my father recalls watching a drove of young 3-8 year olds, among them his sister, my aunt, gaze dreamily at the sign for long periods of time. When the light would go on they would all shout ‘Menoooo!!!’ which has no direct English translation, but refers to when something goes bright suddenly.

When the bulbs would go off momentarily they would then shout ‘Bucha!!!’ which roughly means ‘blink’ in Gikuyu. As soon as dusk would approach, like moths to a lamp as it glows, they would begin to converge around the shop, even before it went on, waiting. They would wait, and then go ‘Meno!!!’ and ‘Bucha!!!’in unison as it flickered on and off. I just imagine it like one of these zombie movies with the last remaining humans, and they converge around the place. They never got tired, and they never got bored of singing.

Our trip today started with Makadara, went to Ofafa Maringo, where they had the Hodi Hodi Club, which  then Ofafa Jericho, then Bahati, then to Kaloleni where Tata Bush was gone. WE missed out on going to Bondeni, where Cucu and Guka moved to next, then they went to Makadara. From there to Ofafa Maringo, and from Ofafa to Garden Estate. Where we’ve been for the past 20 odd years. When my grandfather changed Kaigwa General stores to a bar – the Hodi Hodi club, he got a pair of gentlemen to run it, and they eventually bought it off him, as he began a farm on the land here in Garden Estate, our current residence.

It was a great privilege to see where my relatives were born and track the life and times of my grandparents as they began to work their way up in life. My late grandfather became deputy mayor of Nairobi, my grandmother, a businesswoman. All in all it’s been a blessing, and the perfect way to celebrate family in a new way.

Amen to that.

My life over the past year.

In History's Future, Perspective, Real Talk on November 20, 2008 at 1:39 pm