Dinner Nairobi, Breakfast NYC

Kenya Airways is from this October going to be flying between two of my favorite cities, New York City and Nairobi. I have every bit of excitement knowing that what would take at least 12 hours of flight time via Europe or the Middle East, is now one flight direct. Last night, to much fanfare, Kenya Airways launched this flight in Nairobi.

How big a deal is this move? New York City and its region handled 130.5 million passengers in 2016 alone, and Nairobi joins 1400+ other cities with enjoying a direct flight. (Source: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

New York City is about to enter its 5th Century of existence. Nairobi has just passed its 1st century. Kenya is one of the top exporters of flowers, and now New York City may not have to look to Amsterdam focused wholesalers for daily fresh bouquets. Not only do we have a case for getting more business leaders to our side of the world faster, we have a chance to have folks who have never been to Africa come live from New York City. Initiatives like Be Girl World, a Philly organization which was started by Deesha Dyer (Elle just did a feature on her incredible journey), which empower teen girls through global education and travel can make it over to Kenya faster – allowing their students to visit the cradle of mankind and bring their history to life.

Lupita Nyong’o, first Kenyan of Oscar Winner and of her name, can today personally attend the premiere of Black Panther in Kisumu, a great Kenyan city where Kenya Airways connects to from Nairobi  if she so wishes and tomorrow get back to the East Coast to continue preparing for Star Wars: Episode IX without missing a take. Speaking of movies: You can watch The Godfather, Coming to America and King Kong today in Nairobi and tomorrow visit Harlem, Dumbo and the Empire State Building where all three were shot.

Coming To Nairobi: New Yorkers can leave the City today and enjoy a stunning evening gamedrive in the Nairobi National Park tomorrow afternoon, and sleep in a room where giraffes say good morning that same night. The timing of the flight means visitors to Nairobi can do all these things in 36 Hours (Source: NYTimes)

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What do you need to know to get on the flight? The BBC says:

  • Tickets are going for KES 89,000 (US$ 890)
  • It will be a 14 hour flight from NBO -NYC leaving at 23.25 and arriving at 06.25
  • Kenya welcomes over 100,000 tourists from the United States of America annually.

On the preparation side, Kenya will need to continue energizing the Magical Kenya tourism effort, and put every effort into welcoming and hospitable for all visitors, and locals of course. Articles like this one: TripAdvisor Top Destinations on the Rise No. 3: Nairobi, Kenya will not hurt either.

If I have my way, I will be making my way from Nairobi to New York on 28.10.2018 with the inaugural flight. The year is young still and this may just come to pass.

Are you on Pinterest? Pin this post and keep sharing it.

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2018 Reads

If I told you to start your year with a book in hand, which one would it be? Better yet, have you just made a resolution to read 52 books in 2018? Good on you! I have every intention of keeping up my own reading. If you have not yet started reading, or dropped reading a while ago, welcome back.

As an adult reader, I started looking at writers who put black and African diaspora protagonists at the forefront of their stories.When I was at school, my primary and secondary schools each had a well stocked library and the curriculum had us in the library for the national radio weekly lesson. Even now, I marvel at how a public school in Kenya in the 1990s had such foresight. One of the most popular collections was the African Writers’ Series. At that time, I knew little about writers from other parts of Africa, and I was especially taken by the stories of adventures in West Africa and South Africa through writers like Achebe, and Gordimer. These short books, often 100-200 pages long planted a connection with the rest of Africa, and the idea that the lives we lived were ordinary and yet extraordinary enough for someone to write about.  I am still looking for stories like these.

 

Never having been much of a sci-fi reader, I have now finished Octavia Butler”s Parable of the Sower, and I have just started Parable of the Talents. Last year, I had the pleasure of picking up a couple of her books at a terrific price, on Kindle Day. Butler, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship awardee (1995) was until her passing on in 2006 a brilliant writer of science fiction.  She used to affirm herself, writing famously : ” I am a bestselling writer, I write bestselling books”, noted by NPR in 2017 as one way that she writes herself into her story. I am enjoying reading her rendering of life in 2026, which startlingly captures a few too-close-to-real events we have already seen in 2018, yet she wrote this in 1993. She writes a future much like the world we live in, where there is racial and gender diversity and everyone has to do their part to make each dystopian future liveable. If I find myself in Southern California, I will surely visit the Huntington, where her papers have resided since 2008

Free books! What? A book at no cost to you – especially after you compile a book list at least 100 titles long? (Looking at myself as I write this to you!) While in Kenya this past Christmas, I captured my very own free e-reader. Well, actually, I learned about World Reader, which boasts a library of over 40,000 books in 43 Languages at no cost, and in partnership with authors, publishers and other friends. How cool. I cannot wait to put some titles on a smart device and hit the year reading everywhere.

I hope you can start on your own list of books to read this year, whether you start with just a few pages, a favourite poem, or even just finishing the local newspaper cover to cover,

Please let me know in the comments section what you suggest I read this year. And your go-to books.

Happy new year,

Josephine

PS: If this is your first time here, get to know me a little better by checking out some of my earlier posts on Getting Hired,and Getting Scholarships for Further Studies

International Scholarships for Kenyans

Here is a 2017 list of opportunities that got me sharing and retweeting. Just for you, I read through them, so you do not have to – and tailored them for Kenyans. All the best!

  1. Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Kenya – The Government of Kenya regularly updates this list of scholarships directed from various countries for Kenyan citizens. This list is deep, so, definitely worth a try.
  2. Fulbright for Foreign Students (non-US citizens) : These are administered through the country Fulbright Commissions or U.S. Embassies (portal link) For example, if you are from Kenya, you are redirected to the Kenya site, with more information, and an actual email address to a real person. In this case, the Musician and Orchestra Conductor, Mr Ken Wakia, a past Fulbright recipient is the Chairman of the Kenya Fulbright Scholars Association, and is the main contact (email him)
  3. If you are interested in studying in the USA, go to:
    1. EducationUSA : This site offers a wealth of information about scholarships, English language learning, cultural exchanges, and other options available from the US.
    2. EducationUSA Kenya Advisory Services: They offer advice through general sessions held regularly in Nairobi. I attended the general session when I was applying, and later sought further advice through tailored paid sessions back in 2004/5. Now, students have many more options, including #3 below.
    3. For high achieving students (B+ and above in the KCSE) with a desire to study in the USA, they do offer a number of limited slots to assist students with the cost and process of application to the US  through the EducationUSA Scholars program. know at least one young woman who contacted them through the EducationUSA Kenya FB Page, and won one of these spots, and is now studying in the USA.
  4. Austria: Undergraduates, Graduates, Postgraduates and PhD students who are citizens of any country apart from Austria can apply for the Scholarship of the Scholarship Foundation of the Republic of Austria for Undergraduates, Graduates and Postgraduates which is a grant for research promotion, or search the Austrian scholarships database for specific courses of study at Scholarships.at. You can click through and find more information in English too.
  5. Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship: Nationals of  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar and Mozambique are eligible to apply (and a few others if you are currently resident in France, Portugal, Canada, USA and UK) for postgraduate studies. You must also be interested in development-related studies and have no other means of financing your education.  In case you do not get this one, the AKF shares a longer list of other sources of scholarships to which you can apply too.
  6. Chevening Scholarship for the UK: Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards scheme aimed at developing global leaders. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations, Chevening offers two types of award – Chevening Scholarships and Chevening Fellowships – the recipients of which are personally selected by British embassies and high commissions throughout the world. Applications for Chevening Scholarships and some Chevening Fellowships open between 7 August and 7 November 2017. Kenya applicants check this page
  7. Endeavour Scholarship Awards in Australia: The Australia Awards–Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are the Australian Government’s competitive, merit-based scholarships and fellowships providing opportunities for Australians to undertake study, research or professional development overseas and for overseas citizens to do the same in Australia. But before you apply, check out what other international students have to say about their experiences
  8. Swedish Institute Scholarship Study Scholarships: Scholarships cover both living costs and tuition fees. An estimated 335 scholarships will be available for master’s level studies in Sweden starting in the autumn semester 2017. Kenya is eligible, among other countries. Of importance, is that you need to check their criteria, plus demonstrate you are SI scholarship ready, including 3,000 hours of relevant work, internship or other trustworthy responsibility.
  9. Scholarships to study in Flanders, Belgium are open to African, Asian and Latin American applicants from 31 countries 
  10. NZAID Scholarships in New Zealand: The NZ Government funds several key scholarships for students in the Pacific. However, for Kenyan applicants, the New Zealand Development Scholarship is likely to be your targeted application if you are looking to do a Postgraduate Certificate (6 months), Postgraduate Diploma (1 year), Master’s Degree (1 – 2 years) or your PhD (3 – 4 years) and the New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarship for Master’s Degree (1 – 2 years) + PhD (up to 3.5 years)
  11. Germany DAAD – Graduates with 2 years of work experience can apply for the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst / German Academic Exchange Service scholarships. Read more about them 

 

Showing Up: Jack Ma, Televised Debates and IAAFUnder18

Most of the job is showing up. And most of the time, Kenyans do a great job of presence and participation. Last week, Kenya’s own Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi brought one of his organization, UNCTAD’s ambassadors Jack Ma to the University of Nairobi. Livecast around the world, this was just after Kenya hosted the biggest youth athletics meet of the season,  IAAF Under 18 Championships, at the Kasarani Stadium – the same venue that hosted President Barack Obama’s public visit only two years ago. Not only that, but both events enter Kenya’s hot election contest, which comes every 5 years or so. The televised candidate debates for deputy presidential and presidential posts revealed that Kenya does expect its own to show up, and be seen, even if the verdict is not yet in on debates deciding elections.

It is not enough to be a passport carrying Kenyan, you have to earn popular approval, as well as all the podium places. Your very presence has to be marked, and your work autographed with…for lack of a better word, Kenyanness (check dictionary for Kenyan beside the word lead also excellence) As a Kenyan, I am extremely proud when we wear our best clothes, and take on the world. No marathon in any city while living in Europe is complete without a 1-2-3 finish by Kenyan men and women. Citizens of Kenya, and I suspect many other countries expect their own to bring the goodies home, expect their politicians to be in the streets and in the tweets, and their athletes to shine in every race.

It is even better now that we have evidence of the democratic process of election campaigning, and I can share with friends and colleagues that Kenya is indeed doing the things it should to stake its own claim as a modern participant in political processes. But, also how could most of the Deputy President aspirants, except Muthiora Kariara fail to show up. He walked away with a huge leap away from being unknown, to breaking through the two-horse race wall-to-wall media blockade and increase the spotlight on his independent deputy presidential candidacy and platform. Also, just yesterday, how could our poised President Kenyatta miss the Presidential Debate?  (Of course, just 2 days ago, he did hold a much subscribed FBLive event) and leave the floor so open for the charismatic candidate former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to literally take the debate away?

So, race tracks, electioneering politicos and billionaires aside – in short. JUST SHOW UP.

How?

  1. Use this checklist (Read about the process of showing up from author Christina Rosalie)manifesto for showing up

 

3. Bring your friends along – and make sure you create a space for students to learn from you.

Naturally, I was happiest to see that one of the biggest purseholders, the Jack Ma, chose the season of the wildebeest migration to bring a heavy delegation( i.e Jack Ma + 38 Billionaires)  to Kenya and speak at the University that has curated some of the best minds in my family and our country, the University of Nairobi.

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Also, take a few minutes to catch the talk by Jack Ma at the University of Nairobi

Are you convinced yet, are you ready to get started on showing up? Ask me more about how you and your favourite people can get together, and start making better connections to your work, and others in your space via the contact form below.

 

I am Josephine Karianjahi, learn more about me and connect with me on Twitter

Success: Fred Swaniker’s Map

There is no overnight success – even though our get-it-now appetite for news and influence grows. And there are precious few stories on how to make it as an African in Africa – and the world in longhand, from the source. This weekend, Fred Swaniker spoke to me directly, reflecting on his weekend at Middlebury College commencement 2017. He posted a recap of his journey, mostly about how he got to receiving 2 Honorary Degrees one month and two continents apart by the age of 40. With the privilege of living in this era of Africa’s rise, comes with the responsibility of curating our history and learning from one another. I found this snapshot heartening. Well in Bwana Swaniker.

One big part of Swaniker’s post revealed his start as an assistant to a tradesman and fast food salesman, working alongside his mother, scholarship to Macalester College, college summer internships (including one very boring – but skillsrich stint at an insurance company). He then shares some valuable lessons that each of us can take to the bank: including places to get great insight on how businesses work, where to build your professionalism and sense of work-ready requirements, and how to stay the course. I particularly enjoyed his description of walking backwards as a tour guide in college, which I also did in college sharing my experience with prospective students. Check it out below.

Oh, to answer the question posed by Bwana Swaniker; my first job was helping my Mom as a salesman in the family snacks business at a very young age in the mid-1990s.

 

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Are you trying to challenge yourself to change your own CV and open up the next line in your career? Check out my recent post on getting hired.

Learning with you,

Josephine

The Only Race Kenyans Are Not Winning

I am amazed that last week, a Kenyan couple took home the Paris marathon titles for men and women on the same day. In Kenya, winning a marathon is normal, and even expected. However, in the race to find ways to support the Kenyan public to fight gambling addiction, Kenya is losing.

I’m having a hard time finding tears to cry for local game owners whose national taxes through the betting industry in Kenya have been raised from 7.5% to now 50% of all gaming revenue. Mainly because they have proved ineffective in self policing and correction (e.g. underage checks and support for gambling addicts) Their advertising revenues carry major budget share in a variety of publicly accessible media, and almost muzzle journalists’ ability to critically analyze the impact of gaming on Kenyans.

Unlike other addictions, which are more visible now in the media, like alcohol and substance abuse, gambling addiction hardly gets any airplay. Invariably, you hear and see more about the betting promotions than the ails. You read less Op-Eds and see less school based anti-gambling campaigns. Betting ad revenue seems to be carrying the day.

However, if the heavy arm of the taxman cannot provide a temporary umbrella for the suffering of families which are struggling with gambling loved ones, who can?

In a 2017 study conducted by Imperial College and the National Problem Gambling Clinic in the United Kingdom and reported by Science Daily, the most problematic gambling behaviours included sports gambling, and gambling was more likely to activate the same pathways as drug and alcohol cravings. Even more scary? Scant research exists on the impact of problem gambling on adolescents and youth. A 2006 Psychiatry (Edgmont) article estimates that for every one adult with problem gambling, 2 to 4 times as many adolescents are likewise affected – with the consensus being that gambling is worst when it starts at a very young age.

Are we just waiting to cry so hard, we will only be able to cry out of one eye?

Let us get serious.

 

Hey! Get Ready:Get Hired

I am happy to spend a good amount of time helping family and friends with their resumes and CVs, and it is about time we all get to the good stuff – better skills and employability. I am most interested in helping youth and those yet to be gainfully employed to get ready to take on the job market.

I said:

Apparently, by now – 2017- all university & diploma graduates should not list computer literate and punctual on their resume. It is assumed that you can do a presentation, type and edit and post your own work (and all other computer functions) and that showing up on time should be second nature. Your resume should in fact aim higher and list other things at which you are skilled.

My friend M commented:

It’s not even for recent university graduates. I’m seeing it in “professionals” through age 28…. typing with 2 fingers, late to every meeting or shift and providing what is considered by the individual to be a legitimate excuse each time, inability to use Excel/Word/PPT, etc. And as people are getting their degrees at older ages due to financial struggles and other setbacks, their willingness to learn more than “college” or even to understand that learning doesn’t stop after college leans towards the apathetic. “But I’ve just worked so hard to finish college,” is their thought. The employer’s thought is “But you are still not compliant with state laws, best practices, and professional development requirements to meet your continuing job responsibilities.” And it is over and over and over again, same conversation, different employee.

Yes! to the UN Global Goals, which encouraged us to do more. I agree we can “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all men and women including young people, and persons with disabilities and equal pay for work of equal value” – Global Goal #8 

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How Do You Get Started ?

I did a quick search and found a few gems:

  1. Barclays has built a great LifeSkills site to allow youth, parents and teachers to : Build a Job Hunting Toolbox, Identify Skills, Gain Experience, Be Inspired
  2. European Union’s Europass offers information for those seeking to develop and create EU based CV and other job-hunting credentials. This is useful for CV based countries outside the EU which operate on principles related to previous EU countries

If you already have a Resume or CV and ready to finally update it:

    1.  Here is what TIME Magazine thinks you should be doing to improve your Resume (Jan 5.2017) including a nice free downloadable template shown below.money_01_30_17_resume-template
    2. Also, find out from the Interview Guys exactly what kind of resume you should be designing. This means, what structure by timeline, how long and whether you should have more or less on your resume.

All the best!

What other questions do you have about skills building, resumes, and creating impact from your presentations?

 

 

African Women in Europe 2018

 

Two African Women in Europe, Josephine Karianjahi and AWE Co-Founder Joy Zenz
Two African Women in Europe, the author and AWE Co-Founder Joy Zenz

A decade ago, Joy Zenz and her co-founder Wambui Njau had a vision to bring together African women from across Europe in friendship, and to build community away from home. Today, African Women in Europe (AWE) have a square of the internet that is purely dedicated to their lives and their shared sisterhood.

On the last Saturday of June in Amsterdam a summit and celebration gala brought many of these women (and a few men) together to mark 10 years of AWE. Every attendee was greeted with a warm hug and a welcome to the workshop. Despite being total strangers, it felt like walking into a family reunion. There were a lot of breaks, and delicious food and snacks between to season the numerous chats and rich affirmation.

African Women in Europe
African Women in Europe 10th Anniversary Summit

Maggie Mulwa started us off with a talk on Discovering Your Talent, Gift and Strength.  She cuts a figure of a woman who knows her why, and it encouraged us to think beyond one’s training, or experience for talents and skills which help us create daily, and which can help one generate an income. She celebrated all those who work in fields where one needs not only talent, but a calling – like teachers and nurses, recognising that the things that lie in each of us are great.

Over the first tea break, I met women from Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe and we bonded over our shared Ankara outfits. No doubt we were ready to meet one another in amazing bespoke outfits. We laughed together like old friends and shared a light moment trying to get the very fancy and efficient coffee machine to work. Did I mention fresh cinnamon sticks for those like me who love herbal teas? 

Steve Odhiambo, an e-health startup founder entrepreneur who has created the African Investor Master Class led a capital-centred session. He asked us to focus on capital endeavors here, including for-profit entities such as cooperatives or small businesses as applicable. He wants to see more Africans investing in Europe while we are here, even as we invest in our home countries, and ventures in those areas. Statistically, right now in Germany 50% of new businesses are started by people with a Migrationshintergrund (migration background) , yet only 2% are started by Africans – even though those started by Africans invested among the highest amount of startup capital in their ventures.

Beside Steve was his wife, Mercy Odhiambo, founder of Nafrobox.de, a beauty and lifestyle product subscription box product lovers. I got to talking to her about the product box, and for those who have been searching for products that are good for you, and to feed your product habit, this is it.

Laura Tinzoh, a Köln based author and motivational speaker took the podium with a stirring presentation on how to soar higher. Trained as a food scientist, Laura brings much precision to exposing the elements of a life well lived.

Laura Tinzoh, Motivational Speaker and Panelist African Women in Europe
Laura Tinzoh, Motivational Speaker and Panelist

Based on her life experiences in Germany and in her home country, she wove a beautiful narrative of the things we need to love in order to soar higher. Her presentation was creatively put together by one of her sons, and it was a terrific example of talent right at home. Do you collaborate with the young adults in your life to learn from them? Laura did! As for the elements of love – Ourselves, positivity, standing out(because of your talent), challenges and forgiveness were the top five. Her September 2018 Women Empowerment Summit is in Köln.

Over lunch, I got to hear one of the co-founders, Wambui Njau share about her experiences with AWE to date. Wambui Njau Co-Founder AWE

Two African Women in Europe, Josephine Karianjahi and AWE Co-Founder Wambui Njau
The author with AWE Co-Founder Wambui Njau

After lunch, we moved into a young adult section which was led by Malkia Jeri Designs founder Njeri who shared her career journey with us. She moved to Europe with her family, and although she knew she has an entrepreneurial and creative fashion side, she has also worked on building her fashion to include both African and Western designs. She stressed the importance of keeping close with her mentors, and also making sure that we always incorporate the elements of style within our day to day fashion. We also had a fun Gele/Headtie tying contest!

Youth motivational speaker Victoria Nkatha spoke at length about youth and depression. While this topic seems to be more common among pop culture, she shared the experience that she has as a young woman who came out of her teen years while living here in Europe with her family. She talked about the struggle to maintain identity and the ways that one can try and be understood. For the parents reading this, I saw her takeaway as a call to keep asking after ones children on a daily and continuous basis.

African Women in Europe Attendees
African Women in Europe Attendees

On matters legal, Jennifer Obaseki aims to increase the number of black judges in Europe. As a solicitor and owner of her own law firm, she wants more people across Europe to take advantage of work experiences at different firms. Her office welcomes enquiries about students who can take up work experiences. She also encouraged us to adopt business strategies in our work, in particular knowing the plan, the budget and the value proposition of all our ventures. She let us in on her start as a law firm owner with 3,000 Pounds and a bank overdraft, to its growth to the point of employing lawyers and other staff. A ‘Mom on the Run’ she reminded us to learn about how to get clients on the internet, and to learn how automation can make the difference between new business and our current way of seeking out new clients with old techniques. You can find her at Legalpaal and engage her firm Obaseki Solicitors.

African Women in Europe Book

AWE has written a volume of African Women in Europe containing autobiographical snapshots of a sample of the members. You can buy the book from the organization here

As such, it was not a stretch of the imagination to walk through a ‘Write Your Own Book’ session with author Cecelia Mwaniki on reading and writing our own books. For those of us who are always on our phones or watching TV and catching up on the Netflix queue, you can relate to not being able to read paper and other physical books the way we consume digital content. She called to mind the great writers of the past and the fact that their work survives them. I was happy to get a few tips on how to read offline – in a no-distraction room, taking occasional notes, and even make sure that this is a physical print of the book.

Finally, we had a session on financial freedom with Mema Ngunga. Thinking about money really should not be an exercise in frustration or anxiety. She offered some concrete tips on how to apportion money – 50% needs, 20% savings and investment, 30% leisure. She had some solid tips for how to start creating financial freedom, having a passive income in your lie. You can learn more about her and book some personal finance review time using Facebook: African Professionals in Germany 

Throughout the workshop, you would just be able to turn and meet new people. I met a home health entrepreneur, a humanitarian worker on home leave, a children’s author, registered nurses and teachers, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, clergy members and many other new friends. Afterwards, there was an evening program which I could not unfortunately attend. I left recharged and excited to connect and take home all the lessons, joy and sisterhood in that workshop. I even learned how to tie my hair differently. If this post has made you plan to attend 2019 AWE – get in touch with them and book as soon as registration opens up.

Thanks to Mkenya Ujerumani, the leading site for Kenyans living in Germany.

Have you interacted with African women in Europe who inspire you? Please share your experience in the comments section.

New to this blog? Get to know me a little better and read some posts that may be your next opportunity (Click to learn more!)

xo

Josephine

 

 

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Celebrating Black Women in Film and Television and Kenya

It is the golden age of black film and television content and creators, a historic second Kenyan female director joins the Academy and a glimpse at Rafiki (Kenya’s 1st at Cannes), Yellow Fever( Ng’endo Mukii tackles colorism), Lupita Nyong’o directs a Roadside drama and Kenya’s iconic Lamu through Philippa Ndisi-Hermann’s New Moon

This past week has been a beacon moment in film and television. Netflix, which is one of the biggest content providers across the world recreated an iconic moment in Hollywood, which re-centers the talented and black feature film and television series stars. It features, among others Ava DuVernay, who is one of the leading black female directors today, who did not pick up a filmcamera until she was 32 at the start of her blockbuster career.

Secondly, a first happened for Kenya, one more amazing film maker was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, better known as the Oscars. Wanuri Kahiu is an Afrofuturist, and film director of Pumzi, From A Whisper and the Wangari Maathai-focused From Our Land. Most recently lauded at the Cannes Film Festival for Rafiki, the first Kenyan film to be screened at the festival – and banned in Kenya, she was this week the second female Kenyan director to be inducted. The first was the versatile Judy Kibinge. Check out more of her work

The recreation of A Great Day in Hollywood recalls A Great Day In Harlem, which was a photograph captured in 1958 of the most iconic jazz musicians in what was the Golden Age of Jazz. For those who have always had photographs at home, you have to imagine a time when this was a rare privilege to be memorialized on film, let alone to get so many incredible artists to be available at the same time in history together. And this is incredibly what this moment of film greats together calls to mind. In every part of the world, new content in the Netflix bouquet localises the experiences of the viewers, and there is a sense in the content that one should now be able to see oneself. This is the triumph of the moment, that being black and on film is never again going to be a limited engagement. That this is indeed the golden age of black television and film.

Nowhere more personal for me, is it to see Kenyan female film makers being screened, and being elevated in the world. Often when I was growing up in Kenya of the 1980s and 1990s, we watched one television station until 1990, which was the national broadcaster and had two channels until the mid-late 1990s when more stations went on the air. Until then, we watched cultural staples like Star Wars, the Karate Kid, and beloved animated cartoons on videotapes played on high-maintenance VHS Players. Head Cleaner and careful handling of equipment mandatory. And this is not forgetting that there were only a few video libraries where one could borrow the videotapes. I was very fortunate that my Dad took up this film selection seriously. A few of my cousins and I used to put on our own skits which made the films and cartoons come to life for our parents. I am more than sure that the filmmakers who are creating now went a step further to start writing scripts and putting together storyboards.

Moreover, we knew women read the news, or presented the weather, but we did not have an express understanding of women in the media being the decision makers, even though they invariably were pioneers in the newsroom. On the stage, if one was fortunate, we watched women acting in stage plays at the Phoenix Players theatre in Nairobi. I wished more women directed the plays, and I am sure some did. However, the vast majority of those who appeared in the playbills with the director credit were men. This may seem very outdated thinking, and it was very last century. Now, interviews with Kenyan women in film reveal that there were so many women waiting, building skills, building portfolios and this is their time to shine. Well in Wanuri, and Judy. You have done us proud.

If you have not yet had a chance to see Wanuri’s film Rafiki, watch the official trailer below

If reading this has made you want to discover more work by black film makers from Kenya, check out the work of the following Kenyan female film directors

1- Ng’endo Mukii, Yellow Fever an incredible short about the politics of black skin

2- Lupita Nyong’oIn My Genes and The Roadside – if you have seen her other films, you will enjoy this offbeat short film about the roadside experience in Kenya

3- Philippa Ndisi-Hermann‘s New Moon – a film about one woman’s spiritual awakening in the middle of her storytelling journey through one of Kenya’s most beautiful and historic coastal areas, Lamu

You can follow me on Twitter – @SunnyKay

Get to know me: 20 Questions

Happy Sunday!

I recently read about this challenge put out by Caitlin Kelly (BroadsideBlog). Get to know me a little better!

What are some of your passions, hobbies or interests?

Learning new languages is a big part of my life – English, Kiswahili/Swahili, German and Japanese in order of strength of command. Travel and starting new projects at home and for work are very interesting especially since I started keeping my own home in the last 4 years only. I also write constantly either using pen and paper, which I love, or on a device like laptop or smartphone. I am a happy lifelong reader, and I am never without 3 or 4 books I am tackling at any one time. Currently reading Children of Blood and Bone – a first by Tomi Adeyemi and The Confidence Code  by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.

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What were you known for in school?

I was well known for academic excellence, and also picking an interesting mix of subjects. In high school I was one of only two students who picked Computer Science and German, and aced both. In university I studied the Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College, a liberal arts degree combining urban anthropology and economics.

Scariest moment?

Walking onto a street just as two Matatu (public van)  drivers in Nairobi were racing out of their parking slots in the Central Business District and missing being knocked over by inches only because they came to a complete stop upon hearing me screaming for my life through their open windows. Phew!

Best job?

I worked for four years on an exciting film and media project coordinating film screenings in support of women leadership. You can check it out at Women and Girls Lead

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Stuffed animals or dolls or…?

Currently only at one stuffed animal and I am thinking it is enough for now. Unless I get a Hidden Figures doll set

Do you have siblings? Are you close to them emotionally?

Yes, I have one sister who is my bestie and we are very close.

Are you outdoors-y — or, as humorist Fran Lebowitz wrote, is the outdoors what you step through between the restaurant and the taxi?

I am not an outdoorsy person. Any hiking and ambling and camping has been incidental and rarely planned by me. That being said, I think this will change as I start enjoying being outdoors more and more in green, filled-with-parks Germany.

Are you married or partnered? If not, do you enjoy being single?

I am married and live with my husband here in Germany.

What’s your nickname?

My 10 letter long first and last names have yielded many nicknames over the years. Josephine Karianjahi. Jo, Jojo, Njahi, FineFine, Jos, JK. And I love them all.

What would we typically find in your fridge?

Assorted jams, sweet peppers, lemons, milk (low fat), apple cider vinegar, and at least 1 full meal that can be heated up as leftovers.

Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family?

Absolutely. I am happy to get to do that more and more as the weather continues to warm up, and of course winter is always indoors time. I love fancying up every day meals with cutlery, napkins and decorations. I am always learning from how other friends and family host us when we visit, and it makes my heart sing to break bread with friends.

Are you a highly social and outgoing person — or happier alone at home?

I am an extrovert and enjoy networking and meeting new people. Alternately, I love being home, and my own company too.

Most beautiful place you’ve visited?

It has to be Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of Europe which I wrote about for Medium  in Europe so far. In Kenya it has to be Shela Village in Lamu, Kenya, which we visited in 2016 for the very first time. Shela Village boasts an amazing beach and Swahili culture like no other.

Secret hope?

To publish some work that tells stories I have been aching to share about the world from my eyes and experiences living, studying and working in Kenya, the USA and Germany.

Have you achieved the goal(s) you set for yourself when younger/in university?

Not yet. I am 6 years out from my last university course and I am not yet there.

If so, what was it/were they?

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If not, are you OK with that?

No, but that gives me fuel to keep working on my goals long term.

Do you struggle with/manage a chronic medical condition?

I do not, and I am thankful for each day of mobility and good health.

Do you follow a spiritual or religious tradition/faith?

Yes, I do follow the Christian faith from the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, and this is a great source of fulfilment in my life.

What makes you laugh loudest and most often?

My husband. One of the best parts of being married to him.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging Goals

I have been blogging for the last 10 years or so, on a variety of platforms, and talking about everything from getting hit by cricket fever briefly in college, to books and people that I had met, to inspiration all around me.

Over the last few months, I have been writing over at Medium (Check out my posts there!) , and you can read all about everything from my Secret Shopping in Germany to Travel Around Portugal.

I am excited to share some new goals for this blog:

  1. Establish an editorial calendar for the next 120 days by the end of the month
  2. Publish 3 times a week over the next 2 months
  3. Spend 45 minutes a week discovering other bloggers and reading and commenting on their posts

This is part of a WordPress course which I am taking called Blogging: Branding and Growth which I am taking with other participants in the #BloggingBranding module across the world. I am a fan of online courses, and look forward to discovering others’ posts as the course proceeds. Let’s go!

A Roadtrip to Remember #CantSkipPortugal

Now is definitely the time to visit Portugal. We took a memorable road trip from the south to the north, with stops along the way. Here are some highlights and tips to help you plan your Portugal adventure. The full post is on my Medium page 

 

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Starting to Fight Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

As an urban public health professional, I have been thinking and writing about non-communicable diseases for the better part of the last 10 years. If you have just started your own journey to learning about NCDs, here is a simple guide on how to get involved.

  1. If starting your own campaign seems larger than life, you can join existing initiatives. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a great guide on existing initiatives you can join.
    1. BreatheLife – combating air pollution
    2. Decade of Action on Road Safety – This campaign hopes to save millions of lives between 2011 and 2020
    3. Global Hearts Initiative – to fight cardiovascular disease
    4. WHO Global Days 
      1. World TB Day, 24 March
      2. World Health Day, 7 April
      3. World Malaria Day, 25 April
      4. World Immunization Week, 24-30 April
      5. World No Tobacco Day, 31 May
      6. World Blood Donor Day, 14 June
      7. World Hepatitis Day, 28 July
      8. World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 13-19 November
      9. World AIDS Day, 1 December
    5. Inspire: WHO’s seven strategies for ending violence against children

What else are you doing to get started? Are you looking for some  inspiration? Check out my new podcast This I Can Do (Soundcloud)  for stories that will show you what to do and make you get going.

 

 

Bra Hugh

 

Bra Hugh has rested, and we are only fortunate because he gave us the gift of his timeless music, social activism, leadership and heart.

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