UpFront

| August 21, 2013 - 11.29UTC
UpFront

Things we’ve found out this season… local heroes, mapmaking, fashion, culture, shopping mall facelifts, rare whiskey, a wallet-friendly heater, and tech talk…

One to watch: Annette Mugambi
Annette was recently selected as a Kenyan grand finalist for Face of the Globe, an international beauty pageant being held in Disneyland Paris in October in aid of Rainbow Child Foundation. She spoke to Kenya Yetu:

How did you get into the pageant?
The pageant was advertised in various online platforms. I submitted my portfolio and here I am.

Is this not just another beauty parade?
Face of the Globe is not just about beauty. It involves knowledge about one’s country; they test your creativity and thought processes and, most importantly, your involvement in charity work and volunteering.

What does it mean for you to represent Kenya?
For one, it’s an opportunity to promote Kenya, its culture and business opportunities. With our soaring poverty levels, I have the opportunity to network and open our doors to donors and volunteers.

Can you define beauty?
Beauty is a characteristic of a person or an idea that is unique and provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. It is what nurtures me as a person. Beauty is not just physical but also inbuilt and what you do as a person to make a difference. It is all about being unique.

So what makes you beautiful?
Being a Business and Information Technology graduate, I multitask in my life with what I am good at: IT, entertainment and fashion. And I have the heart to help others achieve what they love most in their modelling career the best I can.
www.faceoftheglobe.com

Let’s hear it for…
… Mariam Mpaata of Junior Stars Football Academy
There are many reasons why we tip our hats to Mariam and her cause: her brainchild Junior Stars Football Academy (set up in Mombasa in 2008 after the post-election violence) has consistently campaigned for sound engagement with our young people, running HIV/AIDS, drugs and environmental workshops for kids aged between 9 and 25. As a result those workshops have impacted over 3000 young people in Mombasa, with no less than 100 volunteers giving their services.
www.juniorstarskenya.org; email info@juniorstarskenya.org

… Bruno Cerella, Tommy Marino and Michele Carrea of Slums Dunk
These three guys are using the skills they acquired as professional basketball players and coaches to create Slums Dunk, an organisation that aims to combine basketball practice with social inclusion. They do this through quality basketball and lifeskills training camps held all over Africa. In 2014 the project seeks to build a basketball court in Mathare and grow it into a basketball academy in collaboration with the several schools they are working with. Good work, fellas! http://slumsdunk.wordpress.com Email karibuafrika.kenya@gmail.com

Mapmaking – putting Kibera on the map
OK. How do we find our way around Kibera?
Well, before 2009 Kibera was a jungle. A black spot on the map. But not anymore.

Really, why?
Because Kiberians have created the first free and open digital map of their community. This has since grown into a complete interactive project through a venture called MapKibera, which aims to empower each of the 200,000-plus residents of this slum.

How did that happen?
The project was launched by Mikel Maron and Erica Hagen, with the help of a US-based NGO called Jumpstart. Together they launched the digital map of Kibera and made it available through OpenStreetMap.

So what does that mean?
It means that mapmaking is accessible even to kids in a Nairobi slum. And for Ksh1 per minute at a cyber cafe they can update their community.

What are the day-to-day benefits?
The mapping shows police stations, dangerous spots, places where rapes have occurred or where gender-based violence has been reported and even where street lights are missing. This has helped the police do their job.
www.mapkibera.org

Fashion – big step forward
Do you find it hard to find a shoe that fits in a style you like? Then the Wideshoe Collection may be just what your feet are looking for…
Some feet are hard to shoe, either because they are wide or are large. Not any more. The Wide Shoe Collection has opened up a shop at Hurlingham Court (First floor, Suite 19) to cater for anyone who usually has difficulty finding styles to fit them. Yay! Equal opportunities for wide feet!
www.wideshoecollection.com

Culture – Goethe turns gold
To celebrate 50 years of the Goethe-Institut Kenya, Kenya Yetu sat down with its director Johannes Hossfeld for a one-to-one chat.

What are some of the milestones achieved by Goethe over the last 50 years?
We have had numerous successful exhibitions, for example ‘Piga Picha’ in 2008, which celebrated 100 years of portrait photography. We have also made beautiful movies and music with talented individuals such as Cathryn Mbathi (Mombasa) and Akin Euba (University of Ife/Nigeria), not to mention the many books that have come out of our interactions. There is also our participation in the Kenyan film industry from the very early days through our cooperation with KIMC  (Kenya Institute of Mass Communication), and our involvement in the movie Soul Boy.

How has Germany benefited, culturally, from engaging in Kenyan culture and arts?
One of our aims is to connect Kenyan artists with the German, and thereby also the international, art scene. This means we can show art from Kenya overseas as well as organise collaborations between artists from Kenya and abroad.

Going forward, what plans does Goethe have?
We will continue to partner with Kenyan artists, musicians, authors, librarians and academics, and maintain our involvement with film projects and screenings, as well as develop initiatives such as The Kenyan Library of the Year Prize (Maktaba Award) and the book series Contact Zones. Perhaps we will work more multilaterally, as we did with the ‘Ten Cities’ project in which we connected musicians and writers from five African and five German cities.

Shopping – Village facelift
Big changes are underway at the Village Market mall
You may already have noticed that Village Market’s food court area has gone through the first phase of redevelopment. The fresh look features new tiles, Ferrari sails, new water features, new lighting, a state-of-the-art sound system, infrared heaters, new furniture and better access ramps for disabled customers.  The second phase will include additional parking, an enhanced Nakumatt and additional retail outlets above the current Nakumatt facility. More development plans, starting later this year, will include 35 modern outlets, more restaurants and an overhaul of the recreation facilities. Big things are coming to Village Market. Watch this space. www.villagemarket-kenya.com

Product review – change your connected life
• Called BRCK, it is an innovation by Ushahidi, and one that is kicking up a storm across Africa and around the world.
• It is the easiest, most reliable way to connect to the Internet wherever you are – and you don’t even need electricity. It has an eight-hour battery, coupled with cloud-based software which means you can access it anywhere to see how your wi-fi and electricity supply are performing, or to manage alerts and applications.
• It can also switch between connectivity options: that’s wi-fi, 3G and fixed broadband.
• In short? This is a backup generator for your Internet.
www.brck.com

Drink – rare gold
If you buy only one bottle of whiskey, then surely it has to be a Jameson Select Reserve? Produced only once a year, the distillery is stopped for three weeks for the four masters of Jameson to craft it. Then it’s matured in flame-charred oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years. Kenya is only the second country in the world to receive stock, so it’s rare. Available at clubs in Nairobi like Mercury Lounge, Brew Bistro, Bacchus, Soho’s, Venom and Beka Lounge. A tot costs Ksh400. Why not buy the bottle?

Best buy – Heat Seekers
Ditch your outdated, noisy and expensive electric heaters and treat yourself to Econo Heat – a low-cost energy-efficient panel heater which will save up to 50% on your heating bills. It’s also safe for your children and pets, and the clincher is that you can paint it to match the decor!
www.econo-heat.co.ke

Tech Talk – Phone review: Phantom A by Tecno Mobile
At first glance, the Phantom A looks like the Samsung S3. Uncannily so. But on closer inspection, you’ll notice it’s got a slightly bigger screen and feels marginally heavier than the S3. And the folk over at Tecno Mobile wanted it thus: it was built to compete with the S3.

You will notice the resemblance because the team of engineers who worked on the Phantom are Koreans. The design of the phone – that broody silent look that most smartphones have adopted – was created by French technicians.

What makes the Phantom A a particularly competitive phone is that it’s been built specifically for the challenges of the African market.

It has dual SIM, which helps when one network is having issues (as frequently happens in Kenya), or if you want to choose a carrier to call from if, for example, there is a special promotional offer.

And because power rationing is an issue in Kenya, the phone comes with a portable battery charger, which you can carry anywhere for those days your charge is low and you’re without access to electricity.

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