The Nairobi Toastmasters Club

A member of the club

The toastmasters club is basically a place to improve your spoken language. You learn to give speeches, and there are levels of speeches you will give throughout your membership. You will be evaluated and promoted to the next level after every speech you give so you have to prepare well.

Of course I did not know all these when I was invited by StartupKenya on twitter. He told me he’d love to have me as a guest in one of the meetings. He told me about Nairobi Toastmasters club which meets twice a month at lunch time. The meetings usually take place at the United Kenya Club on Mondays.

I agreed to attend even before I knew what it was about. He told me the theme of the meeting was ‘My Technology’ and I’d be the topics master for the day. There are many roles one can have during the meeting, one of the toastmaster, who’s the emcee in simpler terms. Startupkenya was the toastmaster and I the topics master.

What was my role about? Well, I was to prepare topics about technology which I’d ask the members to give a 2 minute speech on. Like I ask you to speak briefly on how the computer has changed your life, what you think of the mobile phone, and members can be picked randomly to answer the questions.

Thus I sat down Sunday night, on the eve of the meeting, googling and trying to adapt the questions to something we can all relate to. I sent these to Startupkenya and he approved, said they were good questions. Anyway, Monday lunchtime found me at the United Kenya Club, participating in a most interesting session.

The meeting started with the chairman opening the meeting and conducting some club business, after which the toastmaster was invited to take over the meeting. Some members who were being evaluated gave their speeches, one gave their first ever speech called The Ice Braker. I must admit, the grammar and punctuation, and construction of sentences and use of metaphors and description was on top.

After which I was invited to ask members questions, and these are some of them:

“You have found the love of your life on an internet dating site. Tell your mother how the first date went.”

“You are the love who’s been found. Tell us how it went down.”

“you have landed in a village where you they have never seen a mobile phone. Describe it to them.”

You get the gist of the questions.

Of course I had to introduce myself and explain a little about twitter, and it was encouraging to see that about a third of them were tweeps.
Though they may not have heard of me 🙂

I’d love to be a member of the Toastmasters Nairobi. Will definitely help with those CEO speeches I’ll be making in the future. Plus it’s a great opportunity to network.

More information can be found here: (toastmasters website) and here.

Also, follow startupkenya and nairobitm on twitter.

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The StoryMoja Hay Festival, Kenya

The SHFK is coming up on October 1-3, 2010. I am sure that many of you readers might like to know about the festival. The festival this year is themed ‘Diversity’. As in 2009, the sessions are going to be many and in varied forms and topics.

Kathy Vaughan presents ‘Management Proverbs’

Sunday 3rd October 4pm to 5:30pm at the SHFK 2010
Growing up, everyone learns lessons about life through direct instruction and through our social environments. Some are positive, some negative, some unexplored. This session will engage the audience in thinking about proverbs as a tool for the modern workplace. The audience will have a chance to discuss and interpret chosen proverbs related to work, as well as create their own proverbs.

Bio:
Kathleen M. Vaughan is an experienced trainer and consultant specializing in leadership, collaboration and conflict management. She holds a Masters in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelors degree from Dartmouth College, USA. As a third culture kid and a seasoned mediator, she enjoys using language and the word as a tool to generate understanding, perspective-taking and motivation.

The Indian Black Butterfly invites you to her join her Transformation CirQle.
Friday 1st October 2pm to 3:30pm

Tazim Elkington – The Indian Black Butterfly – has a mysterious sense of ‘knowing’ how to tap into the spaces people are unsure of stepping into. Her sessions are unique and rare as they take a life of their own as moments unfold. She challenges limitations, norms, comfort zones and most of all that which we may consider a done deal however might be the biggest setbacks in our lives. This is not an experience where you buy 1 and get 1 free.. come join Tazim and find out more for and about life and where we function from and why. Lets discuss ‘WHAT IS POWER’ – and its allies and foes! This session will be held on Friday 2-3.30pm at the ‘Transformation CirQle’. This session is not to be missed!!

“Verse of Fire”: A Conversation with Benjamin Zephaniah
Sunday 3rd October 4pm to 6pm

In “Bought and Sold,” Benjamin Zephaniah asks, “What happened to the verse of fire”? “Smart big awards and prize money,” he warns, are “killing off black poetry.” Poets who seek commercial approval risk losing their ability to find what Zephaniah terms “de magic poem,” a poem that “can ease our sorrows” and celebrate “our tomorrows.” A poet of the heart and of the head, Benjamin Zephaniah writes and performs socially engaged poetry, a poetry that makes audiences laugh and cry, feel and care, think and plan, engage the world in its possibilities and its obstacles.

Deeply committed to an ethical vision of the world, an expansive ethics that ranges from veganism to anti-racist activism, Zephaniah works on and off the page. He has championed a poetry that speaks to publics, eschewing the model of the isolated genius artist intent on writing in cryptic codes. His commitment to a democratic poetics is perhaps most evident in his writing for children in the volumes Funky Chickens, Wicked World, and School’s Out: Poems Not for School. Zephaniah is deeply committed to the future of a risk-taking poetry that pursues social and political utopias. In “Protest Poets,” he urges “human poets” to “unite,” “Lest we pass on to future poets / a world in which, poets do not fall in love / or mek mistakes.”

On this “Verse of Fire” panel, Benjamin Zephaniah is joined by Kenyan poets Tony “Smitta” Mochama and Njeri Wangari, in a wide-ranging discussion about the present and future of poetry, the relationship between art and activism, and how to engage multiple audiences through innovative performances. The panel will be moderated by poet and literary critic Keguro Macharia.

Bio:
Keguro is an Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. he belongs to the Koroga Collaborative and to the Concerned Kenyan Writers Collective. His writing can be found at gukira.wordpress.com

Bio:
Tony ‘Smitta’ Mochama is a successful journalist, and popular performance poet in Nairobi, with two published works of poetry to his name – ‘What if I Am a Literary Gangster’, and its sequel, ‘The Literary Gangsta – II.’ A third work of poetry ‘Evanescence’ is on the way … Mochama has also lectured on creative writing and poetry, most recently as a guest speaker in June at Concordia University, in Montreal. A self-confessed vodka aficionado (no lemons, no avocado), the dread-locked poet also did Law at UoN, but sez: “Don’t practice. Just preach!”

Bio:
Njeri Wangari is well known local poet/ spoken word performer, blogger and literary activist. Her first book of poetry was launched last month, Mind and Mind Fields: My Spoken Words. Check out her blog http://kenyanpoet.blogspot.com/
For More Details About the SHFK 2010 visit the Storymoja Werbsite or write toinfo@storymojaafrica.co.ke

Paul Sullivan presents his book ‘Kikuyu District’
Friday 1st October 4pm to 5:30pm

Kikuyu District contains the edited letters of Francis Hall (Fort Hall) who lived in Kenya from 1892 – 1901 when he died from blackwater fever aged 40. His letters are among the earliest colonial records of daily life in British East Africa. He commanded Fort Smith near present day Nairobi with orders to keep the peace between the Kikuyu and the Maasai and to re-supply caravans traveling between the coast and Uganda. It was a hard life in dangerous conditions and every day was an adventure. He was lucky to survive a goring by a rhino and was later mauled by a wounded leopard that he strangled with his rifle. As the railway approached Kikuyuland Hall was moved to Mbirri (Muranga) to establish a new fort. Six months later he was dead.Kikuyu District is a unique and fascinating account of the life of an early colonial administrator and settler.

Bio:
Born in Wales, educated in England and the USA, Paul Sullivan chose a copywriting career in advertising that led to work in ten countries in Asia and Africa. A thirty year resident of Kenya, he is now retired on the Kenyan coast working on his second book about Kenyan colonial history.

For More Details About the SHFK 2010 visit the Storymoja Werbsite or write toinfo@storymojaafrica.co.ke

The Young Writers Project: Public Reading

It’s been ten (I don’t want to use the words glorious, hectic, exciting or marvelous) so I’ll just go ahead and say it’s been ten weeks of glorious, hectic, exciting and marvelous fun and learning. This writing project was an experience I’d want to relieve. I haven’t really had time to sit down and blog about it, but I will.

And so it has come to an end. I’d like to invite you all readers of my blog to a public reading of the short stories we wrote over that period. I’ll let you take pictures with me 😉 and then I’ll put them up on the blog.

Time: 22 August · 14:30 – 18:00

Location: Sherlock’s Den (Nakumatt Lifestyle)

More info
The participants of the Young Writers’ Project invite you to a public reading on Sunday, August 22. They will read selections from short stories written during the ten-week fiction course led by Makena Jackline and Natasha Smith.

Participants:
Sylvia Aleso
Linda Ayuma
Ben Chege
John Kalya
Linda Khejeri
Paul Kioko
Timothy Kyalo
Aloysius Maina
Grace Mogire
Tom Nyangari
Alphayo Nyarera
Harriet Ocharo
Lionel Oduol
Claudette Oduor
Sheila Okongo
Geoffrey Sore
Joshua Wera

To read all the stories, please visit the STORYMOJA website beginning August 25, 2010.

FREE. Snacks will be served.

PS: Look for the advertisement in this Monday’s Daily Nation (August 16).

The Princess Project ~ The Big City: The Mystery

We all love Mysteries, don’t’ we? Those things that happen around us that shock our understanding and lack explanations. We love mysteries because they allow our imagination to come up with absurd or logical explanations and even possible solutions to the perplexity at hand.

Look at what happened with the black holes, up to date astronomers are still poking them just so they can figure them out. Human nature does not allow us to ignore puzzles.

Gabrielle has just bumped into a hole of life threatening proportions. She finds herself smack in the middle of gunfire and a possible family fued involving an ‘IT’ that she knows nothing about. At the end of this dramatic event the definite mystery within the mystery is whether Gaby will try to look for explanations.

The Mystery
I don’t know why. I don’t know why it has been so easy to bond with Stella. I don’t know why it has been so easy for me to look at her lifestyle without the violent disapproval I might have reacted with just a few months ago. I don’t know why I am so eager to get started…. Read the rest here

Don’t forget to have a look at this week’s book review Mugasha -Epic of The Bahaya by Nyambura Mpesha and there is still Poetry by Meshack Sewe, the poet of the Month of July.

Thank you for paying us this cyber visit , and please stay to talk with us and everyone else!

Do you have something to tell the Princess out there? We welcome Mzee Articles: Pieces on personal experience overcoming trial or going through the staircase of life. We would also welcome Girl Royal Articles: How to and Skills from a personal perspective. Please drop us a line at theprincessprojectafrica@gmail.com.

A Letter to my 13-year-old self

I was tagged by Chiira so here goes.

Dear thirteen year old Savvy,

I know you are in class 8 now, even though you look 10 and love reading novels instead of studying. I can see you love your sleep, don’t worry, that’s not going to change. I don’t want to tell you more than you should know, lest you start altering stuff and you know the butterfly effect and all…oh you don’t? Am sure you’ll google that right away. Google? Oh..it’s a search engine. What’s a search engine? *Sigh*. You’ll know soon enough.

Boarding school has been tough, huh? At least now you can borrow the deputy his mobile phone and stand on that anthill for better reception and call your parents. The food in that school is bad, but high school will be much better, I assure you. You’ll curve up sooner or later.

Do not hide during the P.E. lessons and games time, it’s for your health, ha ha. We both see the joke in that….exercise is just not in you. Enjoy reading the novels anyway because you’re still going to ace that KCPE exam, and go to that school that wears all red that you want join. However, you might want to go slow on those Sweet Valley Universities and Mills n Boon. Harlequins are also included in that category…yes, even the cowboy ones. Or oh, well, you can read them this year but keep off them in high school. They’ll make you dream of your first kiss, not knowing it will come in 5 years!

See Mr. Nani? The ex-high school student teaching you math whom you are crushing on, don’t worry, you won’t see him again, so quit fantasizing about the future. Treasure your friends now, because you’ll be out of touch for many years to come.

Life is going to be full of ups and downs, mostly ups. So just sit back, and enjoy being a teenager.

Love,
(Very) Early 20’s Savvy.

P.S. In the spirit of tagging, here goes Soulfool (she’s new to blogging but heralds great promise), Wamathai and Shiko Msa

Wamathai Spoken Word at Secrets Lounge

Unlike most Kenyan timers, Chiira and I were seated by 6.30 p.m. The event was to start at (around) 7pm to 9.30 p.m. being the first, we inquired where it would be held and were told the first floor. Secrets Lounge (hereafter shortened to just Secrets) has covers 3 floors, am told, though I didn’t get to the second floor. At first when I told my friends I was going to Secrets, there were expressions like:

The Strip Club? The Gay Club?

Actually, it may (or was) all that but it’s now a really cool place with a black and white décor. It was empty save for us, of course and the hot bartender. Wamathai, being host, organiser and all, was running up and down fixing this that. However, by 7pm, the place was already full, and by 7.15, you could hardly find space to stand. Turnout was huge; this is a real achievement for a first time event.

So those who always plan to come fashionably late missed seats, and then there are those who come shamefully late (when the event is already over…I shall not mention names- including my friends who were coming to give me moral support because I was going to read a piece for my very first time. Note, I said read, not perform. Slight difference there. A shout out to them: Smonchstar, Boosy woosy and her cousin, WallyB and Pato)

Lights, mikes, camera and action! It started off with this couple (I don’t know if they are together, am just saying couple coz they were two) singing Wyclef Jean’s Two Wrongs. Then the MC for the evening invited the performers of the evening. (I am so so very terrible with names) but among those who performed included Mike Kwambo, Wanjeri Gakuru, Anyiko, Jemedari, Mstari wa Nne, myself and Wamathai himself

The crowd was paying 85% attention at the beginning, and this kept deteriorating as tweeps/facebookers/friends and acquaintances forgot it was about poetry and not all about the hype. Read more here

I was nervous as I went to read my poem, but the cake helped, and maybe one or two cold ones. I know the piece or the reading was nothing to write home about 😉 , but thanks for the applause and I hope to do better next time. Which has been the question on everyone’s mind: when is the next time? With a bigger venue, of course.

In attendance was James Murua, Antoneosoul,Oliver Mathenge and a long list of tweeps I don’t want to attempt writing because someone might be left out and then they’ll feel bad, and you know I love you all!

The after-party went on of course; never mind it was a weekday; I had asked this and Wamathai told me Friday is a tricky day because of the world cup. Am sure you all understand.

I’d love to attend the next Wamathai Spoken Word.

P.S. Since I have no photos of that event..I’ll post a pic of his that made me his number one groupie:

What do you think?

P.S.2
I was going to put up this piece earlier, but then I lost my data cable, then got arrested, but that is a story for another day!

P.S.3
I’ve added this much later: I thought I should mention some special tweeps who were in attendace: @cdohnio (who arrived early and has an awesome young blog, @kirembu (at least you knew the words I was going to read), @muniu, @nbad_kitty, @mwirigi, @switcheeks, @shuhi, @jerishi, @swambi, @ngeny, @EdwinBaru, @Mwendaa, @Mkaigwa (I’ll watch the dawa film, I promise), @ifortknox, @matrixster, @joliea, @murimuriz, @kaggzie (you didn’t say hi!), @mmuendo, @albieno and if I haven’t mentioned your name, please don’t throw a stone at me!

Wamathai Spoken Word

Venue: Secrets Lounge, View Park Towers, Downtown Nairobi
Date: 30 June 2010
Time: 7:00P.M. – 9:30P.M.
Charges: Kshs. 100

Born in June 2009 as wamathai.blogspot.com, Wamathai.com started as a space for author Wamathai Warugongo to exercise his creative juices. Eventually, other authors joined the founder and started submitting original Kenyan poetry and short stories. Wamathai.com has since its humble beginnings crossed the 10,000 unique visitors mark. The site, now with 20 authors, is one of the few spaces on the Internet one can find a unique blend of fresh and exciting writing from Kenya from several creative genres.

Wamathai is turning 1 year old and will be hosting a celebration with its authors and several invited guests who will be performing some of the most popular pieces of poetry and creative writing. This will be happening at the Secrets Lounge in View Park towers in downtown Nairobi. Special guests to this event include popular afro fusion singer Dela , TV presenter and blogger Anyiko Owoko, Michael Kwambo from the highly respected poetry collective Mstari Wa Nne, Recording & Spoken Word Artist Jemedari, Spoken word artists Wanjeri Gakuru, Kevin Gachuma, Wanjiku Mwaurah and many more.

Live music for this celebration will be provided by Mizizi the band.

the flier