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THE DISH: Good food, great service at Melanin food court

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By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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You know the song “Melanin” by Sauti Sol? The glorification of the African colour at its finest. This buzz word has become a rallying call for those who take pride in their blackness and diversity, and though the song is about women who embody this particular trait, the men in the video as well don’t look too shabby.

Inevitably, the trend has taken root in the form of Nairobi’s newest happy hour joint, located at Ananas Plaza across the road from the Lower Kabete Sarit Centre entrance. You may remember it as the glass place in its past life, but it has now converted into a watering hole for Westland’s thirsty professional post work clientele.

I am surprisingly resistant to change for a food reviewer, and so when this place was suggested as an alternative to my usual Westlands happy hour spot, I was naturally hesitant to go. I mean, it’s called Melanin. Why name something after something everyone is touting? It’s like calling your club Millennial, or something – and it makes you sound like you’re rather desperately trying to keep up with the buzzword Joneses.

A classic gin and tonic. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

A classic gin and tonic. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

But after I drove into the area and received such a friendly welcome from the guards at the gate, I was glad I overcame my myopic fears and gave it a chance.

The parking lot isn’t very big, but they look like they’re in the process of expanding it for public usage. As with almost everywhere in Westlands, there is an ongoing construction behind the actual food complex.

Did I mention that the guards were so nice? There’s something that just encourages you to come to a place when the great service starts at the gate, forget even the door. They didn’t bang my doors and directed me quickly to where I was supposed to go.

We were given bitings as we waited for our meal. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

We were given bitings as we waited for our meal. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Melanin, as it turns out, is a bit of an umbrella for the nine restaurants housed in this wood panelled upscale food court. There’s a central eating area that leads to an upstairs bar everywhere, and you can get service from any of the restaurants up there as well. These restaurants range from fish and chicken specialties to sushi, to vegetarian cuisine, to Chinese dishes and a pizza restaurant.

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And one of my favourite things about this food court, and will probably be your favourite thing as well, is the fact that it isn’t like its neighbour across the road, where as soon as you walk in, you’re swamped by over eager attendants trying to make a buck from one of the only customers they’ll see that day.

My signature drink: a tall glass of margarita. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

My signature drink: a tall glass of margarita. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Not that Melanin is underpopulated – au contraire, by the time we got there at around 4.30pm, there were not a lot of people, but the numbers generally increased. And they increased to a level I was comfortable with, as opposed to a level where I could not move or breathe without inhaling whatever the guy next to me had for breakfast.

Back to service – we were served by a cheerful and conscientious guy called Curtis, who came with menus as soon as we were seated. This has recently become important to me, considering the fact that I went to Uptown last week and swore to never return after the three waiters perambulating around my table took 35 minutes to hand me a menu, and only after I had started to kick up a bit of a fuss.

The exterior seating area at Melanin in Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The exterior seating area at Melanin in Nairobi. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

At Melanin, I ordered food from the fish and chicken place, because they had a quarter and fries with kachumbari that I was eyeing – last week, and if we’re being honest, every week after that, fries are my deep and constant weakness.

The chicken was crispy and tasted like home – which, to me, means Sonford but with better oil. The portions were large enough for me to be content with but not too large that I had to be rolled out when the day was done. And the cocktails were a tipsy crown on top of an already good experience, given with a kick that made the demerits of alcohol worth it.

Wondering where to get the 411 on what’s happening in and around Nairobi’s foodie scene? There’s a lot of places you could go, but here’s where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.



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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.

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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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