One of the sweetest pre-Christmas presents one can give oneself this season is a trip with several friends to the Matbronze Gallery and Café next weekend, either on Friday December 13 or Saturday, December 14, to sup and be serenaded by the amazing ‘Three’s Company’. They will be performing Seasonings Greetings from 7pm both nights.
The ‘new’ trio doesn’t quite qualify to be called ‘new’ since all three, pianist Michael James, soprano Ciru James and tenor Chris Coutinho have been on stage together in Nairobi several times before, although not as ‘Three’s Company’. And not for quite some time. In fact, their performance will be something of a reunion for three friends who share a love of musical theatre and will share that love ‘musically speaking’ at Matbronze.
“We performed together in ‘Viva Mexico’ at Phoenix Players back in the 1980s,” recalls Chris Coutinho. “That is when Ciru [who was Wanjiru Gecau back then] played the High Priestess and I played Bernardo while Mike was the show’s musical director,” adds Chris who’s been on stage since kindergarten when he proudly sang the National Anthem.
“That was also when we first went on stage together” Chris continues. “At the time, Ciru was teaching music at Kenton College and Mike was also teaching at ISK. But as she needed a musical director since she was staging Oliver at Kenton, and he needed a first-class soprano to play the High Priestess, they assisted one another,” he says, recalling how by then, he had already begun flying with Pan-American Airlines, so he didn’t see them much after that. Nonetheless, they never lost touch.
Chris has been back in Kenya for a few years, but Mike and Ciru just got back in September.
“We had both been teaching and heading music departments in the UK,” says Ciru who is currently working with kids from Korogocho who are part of the group started by Liz Njoroge called Ghetto Classics.
Telling Business Daily a bit about their upcoming performance at Matbronze, Mike asks, “Have you heard of Spagetti Opera? It’s done in Italy; it’s where musicians serenade the dinner guests both before and in between courses during a festive meal,” he says.
From 7pm on Friday December 13, Ciru and Chris will be singing duets before and in between the sumptuous three-course Christmas meal, with Mike accompanying them on keyboard. Then during the meal, Mike and Ciru will be playing festive duets on piano.
The other reason ‘Three’s Company’ don’t qualify to be called ‘new’ is because Mike James is a living legend in Kenya for having launched the first musical theatre productions at Starehe Boys School in the 1980s, staging memorable shows like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and ‘Dracula Spectacula.
“There really wasn’t a musical performance programme until I started it,” says Mike who also recalls how he also started Inter-house musical competitions. It was thereafter that he moved to ISK, meanwhile performing often with Phoenix Players.
Ciru James also made waves in the 1980s before she left to study overseas. She was a founder member of Musically Speaking, which originally included other Alliance Girls classmates Joy Mboya, Suzanne Gachukia and Susan Matiba. When she left to do her A levels and then proceed on to the Guild Hall School of Music in UK, the quartet became a trio which also made history. But, so did Ciru, performing in musicals like The Mill on the Floss which Mike composeed the music for.
Now that they are back together, their Seasonings Greetings will start off each night with a half-hour’s worth of music from operas like Porgy and Bess and Richard Strauss’s Die Fledermaus and musicals like Guys and Dolls, all sung as duets by Ciru and Chris with Mike accompanying them. Those will come before the first course.
Then after the starters and before the main course, they will perform seasonal favourites. Ciru will also sing an original piece by Mike entitled A new star is our light.
“The song is from the musical entitled Beauty which Mike composed with Fran Morley who wrote the lyrics for,” says Ciru.
Finally, before desert, it will be time for Christmas carols. The trio will provide a set of 24 carols that the audience will be encouraged to sing along to. And throughout the meal itself, Mike and Ciru will play piano duets to keep the evening festive and joyful. In all, it should be a marvelous musical weekend at Matbronze.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.