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Joy Ruguru
Joy Ruguru has not set their biography yet

Oh, you’re graduating! You must be so excited, right?

Uh... no I’m not. But thanks for asking anyway.

Like seriously, what is so exciting about leaving a place like USIU? With a plethora of trees in all shapes and colors that make you feel like you’re in Karura Forest. Beautiful women and men who meet your eyes everywhere you look and almost make you wish you didn’t have a bae.

How about the new state of the art buildings that crop up every single year. And we’ve not even stepped into the world-class gyms.

Yes. Plural.

Not only do you leave this upscale environment, but also your “forever-ever” friends. Remember all those cool people who you met and turned up with for the last 4 years? Hate to break it to you, but you’ll probably see them once a year after graduating.

The only thing to look forward to is the actual graduation day. When you reunite with all your old and new friends that you once joined with as fresh naive babies. Reminisce on your uber amazing campus ride, before you part and enter the big bad world.

If only that day would never end.

I know what you’ll say. That I’m overreacting and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. That you’ll finally be free of those hectic exams and long term papers. And those last two weeks of every semester - I mean why are they are always so painful?

But let’s not forget what you’ll have to give up. Your carefree campus life of probably 3 classes per day (so stressful) to waking up every weekday at 5 am - sometimes including Saturday - just to go to work. How exciting, right?

Of course when you’re graduating, there’s that big elephant you can’t escape from. What are you going to do next after school? What is your plan?

God I hate that question.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rolls-eyes-annoyed-reaction_20170829-140815_1.gifLike really? 

Blessed are you if you already have a well-paying job, as you will not be disturbed with such annoying questions. Better if you’re earning from your passion. Personally, I am self-employed, and no I am not making money from this writing gig. Yet.

But I’m not about chasing it, money knows how to chase excellence. Ama?

Anyway, this is not about my ending friendships or fruitless journalism career. It’s about the 5 things I’ll desperately miss about USIU now that I’m finally graduating.

Do I have to go though?

 

  1. Culture Week

    This is definitely one of the best times to be a USIU student. You get to admire and buy exotic outfits from other cultures, especially for impulse shoppers like me. Ride high on camels around campus (did you see that 2017 parade) and plaster friends and strangers alike with color like Holi Festival.

    And the food, oh gosh the food. Now that’s something worth missing.

     

    b2ap3_thumbnail_Ethiopian-ladies-usiu-culture-week-2017.jpgAnd the ladies too

    As if this isn’t enough, all the multicultural celebration culminates in the one event that attracts more USIU students and alumni than Campus Awards. Or even Mr & Miss. Everybody heads to the field that night just to watch conservative cultures shake their bam bams in front of the whole campus. And we are never disappointed.

    Remember when Kenya thought they won the overall culture of the year 2017 award? The spirit of patriotism and competition is completely fueled in that one week of the year. You really don’t know how passionate USIU students can be until Culture Week.

  2. The Frequency

    Also known as the USIU turn up inside campus. This hyped event is organized and hosted every semester by the best radio presenters and DJs from USIU Radio 99.9FM. To keep things interesting, each edition hosts a new theme and performing artists from USIU and beyond.

    One of the most unforgettable ones was in 2016 when we got to sample wireless headphones from Wireless Events. That evening at Smokers, you could tune into one of three different channels that played reggae, hip-hop or house. So if someone’s headphones illuminated in the same color as yours, you knew you were in the same party.

    Silent disco was brought straight to USIU.

    b2ap3_thumbnail_USIU-girls-fun.jpg

    And then there was the Valentine's Edition in the cafeteria where many daring souls tried out a speed dating session (I met a lot of cool people that day, that will probably never see again after graduation).

    And to end the USIU Radio dance party, we feasted on free humongous cake from Black Forest House. I can still taste it in my dreams sometimes.


    It’s quite a rare thing for in-campus events be more lit than local club parties (ahem Bottoms Up). But The Frequency has done it over and over again. Because if you can party without alcohol being involved, now that’s a turn-up.

  3. Mama Afrika

    Just because we like to party doesn’t mean there’s no time to relax. For the four years I’ve been a USIU student, Mama Afrika has been the top spot to chill. Trees from all ethnicities envelop you in all directions, easygoing leaves swaying gently in the breeze. Then there’s the well-tamed lawn nearby that you’re allowed to see but not touch.

    It’s the garden of Eden inside USIU.

    b2ap3_thumbnail_Mama-Afrika-USIU.jpg

    No wonder it’s such a popular conference center for study groups, even Bible study. Yoh, si we meet after class at Mama Afrika. Or meeting area with your crush aka future bae. We've all made plenty of good memories over there, if you know what I mean.

    Something I should also mention, the new green garden at FAB center is giving Mama Afrika some serious competition with its larger seating area. Speaking of, when is that second cafeteria opening?

  4. Michezo Afrika

    Few students know this, but Michezo Afrika stages the most entertaining plays this side of Thika Road. I say this because the auditorium is hardly full whenever they perform, and most of the attendees are visitors.

    One thing about their self-produced plays is they are always hilarious. Starting from my first one Sweeney Todd, K Street edition to the latest and my absolute favorite, the Uncommon Room. With only a cover charge of 200 bob for students, even KNT can’t touch this.


    b2ap3_thumbnail_USIU-Michezo-Afrika-play.jpg

    The cast members from Michezo Afrika

    The eccentric USIU drama club also holds salsa nights every semester for the secret Alejandros and Camilas among us. I know very little about bachata, so this is the only time I got to pick up a few dance moves from a learned stranger. And the Alejandros are always so nice and gentle.

    If you’ve always wanted to salsa, I don’t know why you’ve never come to sweep or be swept off your feet during these fine nights.

  5. Random events

    Yup just like you, USIU also gets random sometimes. Event posters hit you on the regular on notice boards and school-related Whatsapp groups, but you probably ignore them. Like that coffee chat with Dr. King and Prof Scott during Black History Month, which was complete with free laughs and coffee.

    Or how about those regular guest talks in the auditorium. Sure, not all of them are interesting to common mwananchi. But like TED Talks, most will challenge you beyond your normal thinking capacity.

    The most recent event was when Teardrops the poet, Stonee Jiwe and Eko Dydda took over the basketball court one random Thursday night. That was after we were treated to a free slam dunking session by USIU basketballers. It was the coolest thing I ever saw as they shot some incredible hoops. People’s reactions looked straight out of a Worldstar video.

    b2ap3_thumbnail_Eko-Dydda-concert-USIU-Basketball.jpg

    The Kenyan stars then performed and turned up with us all night. They were backed up by blinding lights that must have been borrowed from Safaricom stadium during IAAF championships. And a booming sound system which probably kept the whole USIU neighborhood awake until the gig ended.

    The best things in life are truly free. And random.



So as you complain about long term papers and how you can’t wait to leave USIU, please remember my words friend. And that 9-5 job waiting for you in the big bad world.

I don’t know about you, but graduating from USIU is like leaving that ex you weren’t ready to break up with.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Whitney-I-will-always-love-you_20170829-140055_1.gif

Please don’t ask me if I’m excited, you already know how I feel.

Ati the alumni card is free for the first year after graduation? Haiya. See you next semester folks.

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Does your daily life feel stressed and hectic? Like you barely have time anymore to lie down on the couch, put your feet up in the air and just chill? Not even a spare hour in your busy day to listen to the latest album by your favorite artist?

Well, I have good news. You can easily add your favorite music into your daily routine without adding any extra hours you don't have. Not only will you be constantly updated on the latest tunes, but also make your everyday mundane activities more interesting.

Here are 10 daily activities that are ten times better with music.

 

  1. Walking

    Putting one foot in front of the other for a considerable distance can get exhausting. That's why it's the best time to plug in your (non-designer) earphones and have a party in your head.
    Now you can strut around campus or the neighborhood feeling like a boss or Kenya’s next top model. Yeah, you know that feeling.

  2. Bathing

    We all know the bathroom is the best place to practice your killer vocals. Or release a mixtape with the help of Omarion.
    Even Becky G said it: dancing in the mirror, singing in the shower.

  3.  Eating

    The most basic activity of our lives that keeps us alive doesn't have to be boring. You can turn your sitting room into a upscale restaurant every single time with French cafe music.
    Feeling fancy yet?

  4. Doing chores

    Argh. Worst adult punishment, amiright? Music to the rescue once again.
    As you listen to your favorite Kenyan radio show or discover #NuNairobi tunes on Soundcloud, washing those pesky dishes becomes a breeze. Or slightly less annoying.

  5. Reading

    Need the motivation to read that novel you can't seem to finish? Or a bulky course textbook that is part of a class assignment? It's time to play that smooth jazz.

  6.  Writing

    Now you have to write that long assignment or term paper. Another argh.
    Believe it or not, classical music is both relaxing and non-distracting. Those instrumentals know how to bring up the right words to your mind and paper.

  7. Driving

    We all know that awkward silence that fills the air in a car when no one is talking. That's why vehicles are fitted with radio systems, especially handy during traffic jams and road trips. (Ebu pass that aux cord).
    You can save that addictive novel for when you're in a jav - that's if you're immune to car sickness. 

  8. Chilling with your S/O

    *insert Khaled's voice * Another one!
    Whatever you two (or three) are up to tonight, you need that chill ambient music playing in the background. It sets the intimate mood just right.

  9. Chilling with your friends

    Nope, you're not forever alone.
    This is the perfect time to show off to your friends that new hot Kenyan track you heard on YouTube. They'll be sure to return the favor and get you updated too.

  10. Getting turnt

    Now we can't forget about this important college activity. Not saying that you turn up every day (even if you do).
    Everybody knows the rule: no music, no party. It doesn't matter whether it's dancehall, hip hop, trap or EDM.
    So turn up the music, let's turn it up louder!

 

Now you have no reason to say you don't have time to listen to good music. Whenever you're feeling bored or stressed, simply plug in those earphones and get into your happy zone, as you do your normal boring activities.


Just don't forget to say hi to that friendly face on the street. Or in your house.

 

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Which is better, Kenyan or Nigerian music? That has been the big debate of the decade. The great battle between the two African giants. Right here our recently crowned king is Kenyan, whereas the USIU queen is from Nigeria.
 
But who takes the coveted music crown?
 
I can already bet your answer. You probably picked the latter, didn’t you? After all their music has flooded the Kenyan industry for the past 5 years. Jams after Jams laced with Naija beats and pidgin lyrics can be heard everywhere, from your local club to your favorite radio station. Who would blame you for not picking otherwise?
 

But wait a second. Does availability mean higher quality? Once upon a time, things were different. Let's go back to about 12 years ago. Back then we rarely heard Nigerian music, apart from African Queen by 2Face Idibia (now 2Baba) and P Square’s latest hits, when they still ruled Africa.

 

Rather, we were banging to Kenyan hits. We knew the lyrics to every Nazizi song, and E-Sir was our lyrical god (RIP). Till today, I bet many of us can still sing along to Boomba Train from start to finish.

 

Oh, and do you remember the time Nameless showed us Juju? Or when Nasinzia was the love song of the year 2007? Ah, good old days. When Kenyan music was great. And local artists enjoyed endless airplay.

 

So what happened? Did we suddenly forget how to make good music as the decade progressed? What did happen is that international music burst into the scene, and showed us how it's done outside the borders. Soon, the focus moved from us to them. We started seeing more of Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj than Didge and Amani on our TVs.

 

Due to our still colonized minds half a century later, we aped their ways and music. Tried this thing called autotune and adopted green screen in our videos. Soon enough we lost our Kenyan touch. Then everything else sounded better. Nigerians could sing it better; Jamaicans could shake it better. While we sank to our lowest point.

 

But let's not blame it all on the musicians. I mean, what would you do if 80% of the music playing on media was foreign? How do you compete with the flashy cars and high budget videos? When all you can afford is to shoot in a matatu? Sure a little humility doesn't hurt, as Wizkid taught us that in Ojuelegba. But clearly, none of us is Star Boy.

 

After years of being ignored, it was only in 2015 when Kenyan musicians finally stood up. They were sick and tired of being compared to foreign counterparts. And being underplayed while priority was given to the latest Nigerian hit which was played five times in a day, every day. They wanted their own space back.

 

Numerous hashtags and online discussions later, things have started to change. Mass media is slowly giving back the opportunity to upcoming and veteran Kenyan musicians to shine. The long airing TV show The Beat is now playing more local music, to the joy of music lovers.

 

But let’s get back to the debate. In my opinion, Kenyan music is no less inferior to Nigerian. The difference between the two is that Nigeria appreciates it’s own music. They love it dearly and that’s why we love it too.

 

Just because we were brainwashed with Azonto and Skelewu for years doesn't mean we had nothing brewing here. Our artists were putting in work and passion in their art, but we paid no attention. Instead, we were too busy learning how to do the gully creeper or the dagger for the naughty ones.

 

Furthermore, attention that should have gone to these passionate artists went to the wrong people. It was freely handed out to Kenyans who tried to imitate the international scene. And failed miserably.

 

They tainted our public image; paying more attention to the hype than the art. Recording songs with no substance, whose only selling point was the beat and nothing else. The artists whose videos were filled with semi nude girls because there's nothing else to show on a screen. That is what represented Kenyan music to the world for a long time. And somehow still does.

 

Meanwhile, there is incredible award worthy music stored up in this country. It is mostly by young Kenyans who create songs so original you have not heard them anywhere else. They push the creativity envelope when it comes to the content and the composition. Unlike popular music, their beats are not recycled from previous hits. This underground music is something unique; the world needs to hear it.

 

Then where is this music then you ask? Why don't we hear it on radio? Well, you'll find most of it on SoundCloud. Some on YouTube. Pass by Alliance Francaise or Creatives Garage on a random weekend, and you'll probably hear some of them being performed. Brilliant songs that have not reached a radio or TV station yet. Not because they don't deserve to. Nope. They are rejected simply because the artists are not famous enough. You're not there yet, is a common phrase they constantly receive. So the world never gets to hear their beautiful voices and inspiring lyrics.

 

Enough of the blame games. It's not too late. We can still bring back the good old days. When we play our music more than anything else on the international market. We show love and support to our Kenyan artists like we used to. When we request for H_art the Band's latest song all week long. And feature on our entertainment shows new artists who show incredible talent and promise.

 

Let our house parties boom with electronic dance music manufactured in Nairobi bedrooms. For your local club DJ to play Kenyan music for hours, and not just the old school hits. It’s not too late for local radio and TV shows to overflow with local high-quality songs, supporting real homegrown music.

 

If we don't give the chance to Kenyan creatives to show us how great our music is, do not be surprised when most people say Nigerian music is better than Kenyan.

 

I'm Feelin It - Blinky Bill featuring Mayonde and Muthoni Drummer Queen

Now this is Kenyan music.

 

 

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On Sunday the 6th of November, I decided to watch the school play of the year because well, it was the final night. From experience, the closing night is usually the most interesting. This Fall semester, the USIU-Africa drama club Michezo Afrika put up a play adaptation of...

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