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CELEB BUZZ: My favourite Kenyan songs of 2018

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By PHILIP ETEMESI
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2018 has been a great year for Kenyan music. Many great songs were released and they all commanded the charts either briefly or lengthily depending on whether the artiste was a titan or a pygmy. Given that I’ve been writing about celebrities for quite a long time, I think it’s appropriate for me to name my top songs of the year. Creating a list like this is never easy because there is a large pool of quality to fish from. Here we go.

“Baby Love” – Otile Brown

Extreme emotions, whether good or bad, bring out the best work from creators of art. It just so happens that the year in which Otile Brown has been a total infatuation junkie has also turned out to be his most impressive year musically.

In 2018, he has had a couple of really good songs like “Chaguo La Moyo” with Sanaipei, but “Baby Love” topped them all.

No, it’s not because Vera Sidika doubled as the subject and the vixen. Here, Otile brewed a rhythmically relaxed and soulfully fluid cube of R&B candy. All musical elements, including the mellifluous outpourings of flirtation and falsetto vocal range, were spot on.

The lyrics were pretty easy to sing along to as well. “Achana naooo…..oooh…achana naooo. Wenye roho mbaya….wanatusema vibaya.” Good stuff.

Kenyan artistes King Kaka and Kristoff.

Kenyan artistes King Kaka and Kristoff. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Dundaing” – King Kaka ft. Kristoff and Majix Enga

I am not sure whether Majix Enga should be singing at all or just concentrating on being a producer. I am yet to come up with a final verdict on that. Maybe if he would be concentrating on beat-making he wouldn’t have copied part of the beat of this song from Olamide’s “Motigbana”.

I am also not a fan of the new King Kaka and I made that clear in a previous article. I liked the previous King Kaka, the one that was known as Rabbit.

However, I enjoyed this song very much because Kristoff really delivered. Here, Mluhya Wa Busia sounded more alive and dedicated than most of his recent sleepy songs. Even if you really wanted to hate “Dundaing”, you couldn’t. It was too infectious and that’s why it makes my list.

Kenyan artiste Khaligraph Jones.

Kenyan artiste Khaligraph Jones. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Ngori” – Khaligraph Jones

Khaligraph thinks I hate him. He actually asked for my number from one of my friends so that he could lash out at me. He called but I didn’t pick. I am not a fan of arguing. This was after I said that Pinye was right to not play his videos because they are always low quality.

Contrary to what he thinks, I really respect his art. And I feel that the trunk-rattling “Ngori” is one of the best songs he has ever done. The way he flows from start to finish is just incredible.

I actually liked this song more because he used more Sheng than English. He should keep the Sheng to English ratio at 80:20 in future tracks. Not vice versa.

“Wema Wako” – Guardian Angel and Baraka

Guardian Angel is one of the realest gospel artistes in Kenya. Over the past few years, he has carved out his own pure diamond rocks from the surface of contaminated Kenyan gospel.

His thoughtful religious messages, punctuated by jim-dandy rhymes, give what would otherwise be a relatively average song a sexier feel.

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This song makes me want to dance and pray at the same time. Both artistes keep the song buzzing with great energy and spiritual presence. I had never heard of Baraka before this song but he is good. He has a bright future.

 Kenyan artiste Octopizzo.

Kenyan artiste Octopizzo. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Noma Ni” – Octopizzo

On this track, Octopizzo unleashed one of the most incredible bars ever by a Kenyan rapper. The way he plays with words is jaw-dropping. F

rom verse to verse, he comes up with really witty lines like “Walianza mwaka na pupa Mi’ kwa hosi nime-chill tu ’cause I’m sick and you know it.”

‘Sick’ is a slang word for ‘dope’ and the fact that he says he is chilling in a hospital because he is too ‘sick’ is just incredible.

Octopizzo really awed me with this song. It made me develop a new form of respect for him. That’s until he released “Oliel”. You all know the drama that followed that song.

Kenyan artiste Nyashinski.

Kenyan artiste Nyashinski. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Finyo” – Nyashinski

Isn’t Nyashinski the luckiest human alive? He quit the limelight, went to the US, spent many years there, then he came back and said: ‘You know what? I think I am going to continue with this fame business.’ Then fans accepted him back with open arms.

But he isn’t just lucky, he is good. Even the worst Nyashinski songs are better than what 95 percent of the rest of Kenyan artistes release.

“Finyo” is only a few weeks old but it has already made my list. In it, he manages to easily switch between singing and rapping like a V8 driver switching lanes on Thika Road. Nyashinski wafts over the sheen, violin-driven beats with finesse.

“Finyo’s” only flow lies in the video on minute 1:39, when either the artiste or the video director (I don’t know who is to blame) decides to include a crowd of people nodding their heads like in Kendrick Lamar’s video for “Humble”. It comes off as very poorly done and cheap.

“Mary Jane” – Timmy and Arrow Boy

I like Timmy’s personality more than his music. In fact, he has almost capsized his career this year with a string of unimpressive songs. However, once in a while, he manages to create melodies that impress.

When he teamed up with Arrow Boy, it was quite obvious that something refreshing was going to be created. When they both started jamming to the producer’s beats, they said “Let there be Mary Jane. And there was Mary Jane.”

Here, both of them wear their unruliness like iron armour. The song is also supported by dance-ready beats that make the union worth it.

Kenyan artiste Nonini.

Kenyan artiste Nonini. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Mpaka Chini” – Nonini ft. Prezzo

This song draws you into a calming web of old-school magic while still keeping the modern vibes. It made me feel like I had time-travelled back to 2004. I was even about to wait for Sunday so that I could check Buzz magazine and see if the lyrics had been printed.

Remember back in the day when song lyrics used to be printed in Buzz? As kids, we would cut them out and stick them in exercises books. Ooh…the good old days.

“Mpaka Chini” reminded me of those days. Two of the greatest artistes in Kenyan history came together to deliver awesomeness in a way that’s rare for aging mainstream gods. Perfect…Just perfect.

And that concludes my list of favourite Kenyan songs that dropped this year. May Kenyan artistes continue in the same spirit of releasing great songs next year.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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