I really don’t get the hype around the new year. Sure, it’s no longer 2016 and we won’t be writing it down anymore in our notebooks. But isn’t this just a new month, a new day. A continuation of yesterday?
Anyway, the new year is the perfect time to reflect upon what happened in the last 12 months. Recall the highs and lows. Be grateful for all the wonderful experiences.
Unlike most, 2016 was one of those good years for me. Here’s a recap of the highlights of 2016.
Remember a couple of months ago when I told you I had a little crush, on a Kenyan poet? The only thing I wanted was to see him again. Well, my bucket list is now full. For I did meet him again. Not once, but twice.
I am still a huge fan of his deep emotional work. I long to watch him perform some more this year. He reads the blog once in awhile; I suspect he might be reading this right now.
Still ain’t giving out his name though.
It’s hard to forget the incredible Diani beach holiday back in July. My first trip to the quiet South Coast beach location. Even though it was a fun experience, I felt like I didn’t do enough of what I wanted to. Barely ticked half of the ‘things to do’ list.
However, I enjoyed what I could. Activities like snorkeling, camel rides on the white beach and biking on the serene Diani road.
What I didn’t tell you was that I had a grueling time creating that post. Taking photos is no problem at all. Choosing which to post and editing them is the challenge. Maybe in 2017, I will finally befriend that artsy guy called Photoshop.
For my end of year trip to Tanzania, I set no expectations or to-do lists. Instead, I chose to go with the flow, and it is paying off. I’m currently enjoying whatever each day brings.
I’m currently enjoying whatever each day brings. Going to the beach as often as I can. (Cue Starships by Nicki Minaj). Eating a mango (or two) a day. Craving mkwaju juice constantly. Learning dance moves from my Southern African friends. Basically enjoying life and music in Dar es Salaam.
I probably didn’t tell you about the time I found myself in the company of my favorite Kenyan band. In fact, I have told very few people about this incredible story.
Of how I visited my friend during his radio show, and him slipping out the best news I could possibly imagine. That H_art the freaking Band would be on air during the next show. On USIU freaking Radio.
So I did what LaMusicJunkie had to do. Waited eagerly for them to show up. When I spotted them trooping into the studio, my heart jumped with childish excitement. The studio was full and dark by the time I got in. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t contain my big musical heart.
From the beginning of the show, they knew I was their fan. It wasn’t hard to figure it out. I constantly grinned like a little kid. Sang along to all their songs, as if I was at their live concert.
The band caught me by surprise that day. They were fun and easy going. They even laughed at my jokes. (Okay, maybe just one).
Mordecai even sang one of their popular hits for me on air. As his sweet voice filled up the small studio singing Nikikutazama, blood rushed to my cheeks. I was blushing like a girl who had just got her first kiss from her crush.
After the thrilling show, we took photos with the Kenyan band to prolong the memory. I still haven’t received mine, is how Nashon?
Since the three stylish musicians were famished, they were directed to the school cafeteria. And guess what, I was invited!
I felt like I was finally one of the cool kids.
As we ate our mashed sweet potatoes and beef stew, I just couldn’t believe it. Yes, sweet potato mukimo is the bomb. But also that they would let me hang out with them. Is this what happens when you love an artist so much? Does this make me a groupie now?
Chira the poet is hilarious. He’s definitely the comedian in the group. Mordecai Mwini, the lead singer does not say much; he’s mostly quiet until he goes on stage. There he turns into a musical beast.
Kenchez the guitarist is a blend of the two. He’s in the middle, calm yet excitable. They all carry around this eccentrism in their hair, clothes and music. Rasta flows easily in their Kenyan blood. Kayoleshwa would be proud.
2016 was the year LaMusicJunkie discovered the secret hub of Kenyan celebrities. They call it the Alchemist; a cool uptown bar cleverly hidden in Parklands. It is where all the local celebrities hide throughout the week and weekend.
There I have met so many famous faces, it left my head reeling. Especially during my first Mi Casa concert.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would gain backstage access to such a huge concert. Be in the same space with greats like Sauti Sol, and watch them get ready for their surprise performance with the South African band. It was completely surreal.
In that moment I tried my best to restrain the fangirl in me from coming out. I had to stop myself from confessing my long lasting love for the band. Act cool Joy. This is backstage forchristsake.
But don’t get me wrong. I am quite the shy one when it comes to talking to celebrities. I can barely approach them by myself. They have this lofty air around them that simply intimidates me. Is it only me?
So I had to be pushed to talk to them during various events. Some I let pass me without uttering a word, following them quietly with my stares.
A few connected friends were kind enough to introduce me to others. Like K1 aka Makmende who is a regular DJ at the outdoor bar. Mayonde was so sweet, she even called me pretty. But you should see her in person. Petite et belle.
Away from meeting celebrities, another moment of the year was highlighting my favorite local blogs. A writer’s got to read a lot too, you know.
I came up with two lists, consisting both known and underrated Kenyan blogs. Hopefully, more people will also become enchanted by these talented Kenyan writers and their moving work.
This has also led me to create connections with some of these writers I admire. Getting a free ebook from Dora of Nilichoandika. Doing an editing stint for the fast growing blog Kisauti. Meeting Imali of Don’t Date a Writer, who was quite shy to say hi. (What’s up girl?)
And most recently being in the same space as a younger writer whom I look up to. Mike Muthaka. One year counts as being older, right Mike?
2017 will be a good year for writing.
Icing on the cake
The biggest surprise of the year was meeting my role model. The guy I absolutely look up to. His name, Jackson Biko – or JB as I like to call him – of the popular Kenyan blog Bikozulu. You must have heard of him by now.
I met him not in an airport waiting room, or an uptown restaurant. But in a mere city hospital. He was the patient, I the receiver. It’s funny because he was the one who was warm and inviting. Made me feel as if we were long-time pals.
That extraordinary day is forever etched in my memory. And on the blog too.
As if luck was on my side, I met JB once again. This time he let me interview him. It’s crazy when I think about it sometimes – I, a young writer who’s only had her feet in the murky literary waters for barely a year, interviewing Biko. He truly made my year.
These past 12 months has been full of incredible experiences that I could not have predicted. 2016 has taught me that if you really want something, the Universe will help you get it. Really, anything. There’s nothing you cannot be, do or have in this world.
I can’t end this post without thanking a few people. People who’ve made this blogging journey easy. Smoothing down the road bumps. Pushing me up the hills, and slowing me down before I went too fast and crashed.
Mwaniki has been the best editor I could ask for. His constructive criticism and positive reinforcement have built my confidence as a writer. He’s the one who polishes up my pieces with his waxing fingers before they meet your fresh eyes.
They say your friends don’t consume your work. But it’s been the opposite for me. Wendi has been a close friend and my biggest cheerleader, lifting me up even when I don’t think I deserve it. She makes me feel like a better writer than I think I am.
Music junkies, I see you. And to the silent fans, who are usually the first to read as soon as a new post notification pops up in their inbox, I appreciate you. Always know that your feedback counts more than the likes. Whether on the comment section or on WhatsApp.
Now let me bring it back to you. What did you enjoy from LaMusicJunkie in 2016? What are you looking forward to seeing this new year? I’ll be quiet now and let you speak.
Just one more thing. Je t’aime.