#RespectTheUrge

Greetings humans!

I know we need to have a conversation about the relationship  I have with this blog but that is another story for another day. (someone keep tabs on these things.)
How have you been doing the past few months? If you’re in Nairobi, you have survived a brutal couple of months of heavy cloud cover and barely any sunshine. I apologize on nature’s behalf (not really. lol) for your sufferation. I absolutely loved it. However, the sunshine is back and you can thrive in it. 🙂

I’m constantly being made aware of my need to leave Nairobi. More often than not, at switch up of every season; summer (Njaaanuary, HELLO!) to the long rains, paralyzing cold to sweltering heat. Or when it becomes my favorite part of the year, the mixture of it all’ sunshine all morning, raindrops in the afternoon and evening and cold all night from an inky black sky. As the winds began changing in Nairobi I escaped to the place that stole my heart last year. The land so rich in people, food, air, water, knowledge, spirituality, memories. The Republic of Uganda for the NyegeNyege Festival 2016.
Now, before I go on, I must tell you of this amazing festival that changed my life. It is a short story so we only have to travel back in time a few years.
In 2014, the agenda was to begin the process of getting introduced to festival life goodness through the Rift Valley Festival. Unfortunately that year, that ship sailed and left me at the shore with my white handkerchief. I wasn’t worried. “RVF is an annual festival. It’ll be back next year.” I told myself. It wasn’t. The last edition occurred that year and I missed it.
I sulked all year. Kicking crunchy leaves instead of crunching them (i know, i know.), trying to sell my organs to somehow end up with enough money to have my own RVF. No one wants my diaphragm, so that ended badly. It was until Daniel and Ore(eternally grateful btw!) told Lindsay and I about NyegeNyege Festival in October that I stopped trying to give away body parts, packed up and literally escaped to Jinja for the first edition of NyegeNyege International Music Festival. 
I was blown away.
The festival occurs at an abandoned hotel which is a huge maze like thing that gets you lost but not really. I mean it. The hotel is completely covered in plant life of all kinds that it possible for you to loose your sense of direction and finding it again, till it becomes home. Bonus, it’s located right at the source of the Nile! \0/  I was sold at this point already.dsc_9540 The stage set up, camp sites, food stands all seemingly had positions so perfect on location. It was amazing to just see. When the people began to flow in, NyegeNyege reached perfection in its vibration. People from ALL OVER AFRICA and the world arrived. Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Congo, South Africa, France, Britain, Canada. It was a global scenario.

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Lindsay and I at NyegeNyege 2015. (Photo courtesy of Awuor Onyango)

2016 was BIGGER.
The funniest thing is that the whole year, we (Lindsay and I) were waiting for the festival dates to be announced. There’d be times we would be kicking it together and then all of a sudden we enter a moment of just pure nostalgia and sit in it for an hour. we did this over and over again. Then NyegeNyege sent  word out for its people. We entered some sort of a frenzy and began counting down the days to the return to the magic. I knew the twenty or so Kenyans who went last year, wherever they were with knowledge of the festival, were going through the exact same thing. The footage began to come out from last years festival. Pictures, promo videos and a WAKALIWOOD PRODUCTION that the whole festival was a part of! It was slowly forming into a tangible reality. “This years festival is going to be so delicious!” I would constantly say. At this point I let myself dream of a rollex. It’s dangerous because once you do, every time you think of one its going to be all you want. All. You. Want.
Nairobi caught NyegeNyege fever immediately. Early bird tickets came out, party buses were organised and constantly being booked. Some of Nairobi’s amazing artists were performing; Tetu Shani, Labdi, EA Wave, Cosmic Homies, Yellow Light Machine, Prisca Ojwang’, Kaya Collective, DJ Lasta, Jinku, Nu Fvnk and of course, Mr Blinky Bill, who killed us u.pon the dance floor last year was returning to the stage. The energy was moving in everyone. Unfortunately, those who couldn’t go were already experiencing severe F.O.M.O (Fear Of Missing Out). Nairobi, was prepared for this festival.

 

Needless to say, it was worth it. Took the trip to Jinja this year with the family, Yellow Light Machine. The thing about travelling is that before you get to the destination, it bound to get ugly at some point. Never before have I gone on a completely perfect trip from the point of departure to return. This wasn’t any different.We were late to get to the bus, I traveled in shoes with laces, we got to Uganda at 5:00am and chilled, literally, for a hot minute. It was draining really. We got to see the sunrise though. The sky changed from its deep blueness and hundreds of stars to having shades of purple, pink, orange. Clouds that looked like the lightest stroke of a paint brush covered the sky occasionally disappearing. Cotton like clouds on the way formed in the distance and sat out together, barely moving. Every morning I saw the sky in Uganda, it looked exactly like this. A story.

By midday on that day, the people of NyegeNyege had began to arrive in numbers. Food stands were going up, the stage was being set up, the camp site was filling, people were exploring and meeting each other again and for the first time. In no time the festival was in full swing. It then became a movement from one stage to the other then to get a rolex, possibly a beer as well, then back to a stage of your choice. Most live performances were set up during the day and so you could kick it in the sweltering sun or by the river and still get to jam featuring artists like Body of Brian, Winnie Lado (who I immediately fell in love with), Undercover Brothers, Young Cardamon and HAB, Tetu Shani, Cosmic Homies.dsc_9493dsc_9601dsc_9631 One of the best things about this festival is the amount of music you get to listen to, passively and actively. It’s from everywhere and it comes with the wind. Within the maze of the abandoned hotel, you hear it. It calls you and you answer.

 

“You never leave the dance floor alone. That breaks its deep bass heart.”

Walking, running almost, towards the dance floor so you can dance and release. I remember the sun having just set and I had run to get mosquito repellent to save a bunch of us from vicious attack (because those little guys bite you and you’re itching for three days) and on my way back I heard the LIVE.ST lingala set happening at the Eternal Disco stage which was next to the river. I had to get everyone from the other stage to deliver justice to the music that was being played.There was also a percussion circle that kept popping up all over the hotel. anyone and everyone could drum or dance. Both if you bad ass like that. As the day turned into night the music got heavier and so did the vibe. Schlachthofbronx, Ibaaku, Tom Blip, Max Le Daron, Blinky Bill, Jinku, Nu Funk, Heartikal, Ea Wave, Ska Face threw it down!dsc_9325dsc_9304
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Akwaaba Sound System played from 3:00AM to around 5:00AM on Sunday morning. I have a special reserve of energy and deep love for this set because I will always be left weak. WEAK. The same set occurred in 2015 at the same time and I kid you not, there was a point at which my brain could no longer be awake but my body couldn’t stop moving. BBrave didn’t even go easy on us this year, serving us a back-to-back set with Max LeDaron they played even more fire music that sings to your soul, makes your feet move, burns inside you  Except, this year, we were more prepared.

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Max LeDaron.

Then there was afternoons when the sun was really hot and it was time to lazy around by the tent with a cold drink and just talk about the most random things with the people around you and let the hours bleed into each other. Laugh for hours, take a nap in the hammock cause the tent will have you peeling of your skin (Yoh. At some point, it got really hot). Walk down to the lake and dip your feet in the water, or your whole body. Y’know, which ever you prefer. Let the water of the Nile wash you. If your not careful, so will the current. Maybe get on a boat if your not feeling like touching the water. It was in these times that the friendships I have got stronger. It’s amazing when your in another country with people you see often at home and a blessing to spend time with those you don’t see often at home. A collision of both is able to transform everyone involved. As an artist, this space to be with people was refreshing. You’re able to share the reason for you art, the force behind it, truth behind it and live it. In a society that has a bittersweet, love hate relationship with the arts the island of NyegeNyege is where we can go to energize, re-calibrate, redirect and return to the same society and CREATE.dsc_9616dsc_9557dsc_9250

Time ceased to be a factor to govern the weekend by. It had no meaning. Time stretched and snapped back together. Moments bled into each other, slumber was optional, music was continuous, food was sustenance, dancing was inevitable, humans were vibrating higher. Which is why it feels like the next NyegeNyege is light years away and the one that just passed is close enough to take two steps back into. Nyegestalgia. (lol)

My words, I hope, fill in the blank spaces that the pictures leave out. Hopeful that it makes the festival a reality, world, planet, on its own that once you enter, you can only leave if you promise to return. The best part about that is that you will be more than happy to return.

Till next time.
Love and blessings.

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1. Slave To My Mentality.

I’m a slave to my mentality.
It’s true and it has been true. I have been a slave to my own mentality. You see, somehow you seem to have made me absolutely different from everyone else. I’m not too sure when differences in people became a problem. Considering how much we have developed as a sect of nature, you would think that differences would have been something that we could have learnt to live with a long time ago. Yeah . . i thought so too, but I guess not.
With this difference around, its made it quite difficult for me to simply exist on earth without attacks from different sides of the society that I live in. From my neighbors, from my family, from myself. Some days are easier than others and others are just flat out painful to get through.
Oh. Who am I?

I AM AN AFRICAN.

That’s right. African.
It IS indeed hard for me to exist daily. Its so hard that I now believe that my difference is a bad thing. I no longer believe in me as a human being. In fact, I see myself as the ‘scum’ of society, at the bottom of the ‘food chain’.
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I know, I know. ITS CRAZY!! Can you blame me? Left right and center is something in society being glorified that usually has nothing to do with me. The limelight isn’t something I tend to see unless its the exposing of the problems that have been affiliated with me; war, dysfunctional governments, debt, hunger, the usual. (That’s all a story for the near future, I promise.)

“Emancipate yourself. . . “
You tore me down from the outside and worked your way in. At the depths of my heart, you settled and I was unable to see, think, FEEL, LIVE, clearly.

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That’s different now. Something has been bubbling on the inside and there’s change. I think its safe to say that once change is seen on the outside, the inside has undergone absolute transformation. You see, i’m no longer bound to what you have put up around me. Let me now tell you who i am, breaking down the superficial and slowly making my way to show you what is within. Then you might probably see that I am not just an African.
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“Emancipate yourself . . . “
I now walk around with the mentality that I am royalty. Why? That is what I know me to be in the very fiber of my being, from my soft, vibrant afro to kinky dreadlocks that hang down to my knees to the baldness on my crown that sits so perfectly. Sometimes I wrap it all up in beautifully colored fabric just to compliment my dark skin. I chose to see my hair as a crown adorning my simplistic beauty. It is no longer about how straight my hair can be or how much it can be blown by the wind. I now accept that my hair has its own identity. Don’t you dare strip that from me.
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“Emancipate yourself . . .”
You attack me because of the color of my skin, and its fine. Think of it as you please. Your thoughts will no longer affect me because my dark skin is something else entirely. I could be like cocoa butter: light, soft and cream or like dark chocolate; rich and deep in flavor just like the earth below me. I now cover this skin with brightly colored beads and materials of different heaviness that lightly dance on my me as the motherland’s wind moves with me.

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Yes, my skin is black like oil but don’t you see it leaves a mark on everything I touch. From the palms of my hands, to the soles of my feet, I now see this melanin as a natural robe covering me.

“Emancipate yourself . . .”
My hips, thighs, lips, wide nose, strong arms and eyes are all thick. I mean, what other body would possibly be able to hold this big personality. I come in all shapes and sizes, widths and depths. I’m no longer shrinking myself to hide the structure of my body. Sure, my outward look may be a little bit intimidating but how else will you know that you are walking in the midst of power, right next to unshakable authority? There is no longer a reason for me to be shy about it.
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“Emancipate yourself . . .”
You broke me down and told me that I was not beautiful. The color of my skin, density of my hair, shape of my nose was all different and therefore you called me ugly. That could have been a while ago but it stuck with me. Even worse, my children  seemed to have believed that they would never be seen as a symbol of beauty.  . . .
False.

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I now approach myself with a different set of eyes. Its all about how I perceive myself, you see. The mentality that I continue to change which will finally embody the real me. And when i say me, i mean WE! I believe me is in the rest of my brothers and sisters of equally dark skin.
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POWER.
I am no longer a slave to my mentality that tore me down more than it could ever have uplifted me. I believed that the creator made me lesser than I was destined to be when there is so much more for me that you told me.
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“Emancipate yourself. . .”
It is a sense of pride that I move with. It is an identification of SELF that now cannot be taken from me. I now realize that I have a place and role in society. Call me whatever you may but I am now aware of exactly who I am. I accept your label as black because out of the deepest darkness rises, like the sun, the most beautiful phoenix.

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”
-Marcus Garvey.

I AM AFRICAN.
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The Beginning of a Familiar Journey

Take a trip with me into something I like to call the unknown. For some of us it could be the hope of a future. . for some of us it could be a step into the past. For others, it could be the current reality.

x.x.x

Her:
He left a long time ago but he is back. He’s here. HERE! Alive . . .
I can’t believe that he is here.
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My love, I could only think of you wounded and bleeding but fighting on. I cried night by night waiting for you to come back to me. I cried until the tears became ice that numbed my heart. Before you left, I saw it in your eyes even your stride. You weren’t sure you would come back. Neither was I.

Him:
I never thought I would see her again. I never thought that we would be this happy again.
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I was gone for so long. She slowly became a distant memory as I wasted away. With every day in the battlefield, I could feel each part of my being wasting away. I became less and less of a man and more of a machine. My only reason to live was to survive. Day and night become of no significance to me because it was all war.
Then it all of a sudden it wasn’t. I was sent away from the only home I had known for three years, the unpredicatable, to come back to you. I was afraid. I was afraid that you would not be able to love the empty shell that I was.
Until I saw you.
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I saw you and I was filled. I was filled with what had been torn from me. It was like I was refilling and beginning to see life in a new way. My wounds seemed to be empty of their psychological pain and were now wells drinking from from her love. She was my light. She was the other half of me.

Her:
Its been three months since you appeared on the doorstep all shades of brown and depleted but I am still not sure its you. I am afraid that its all a dream that i am stuck in. I am afraid that I keep on creating a merely mental reality where nothing seems to be affected by your return. Even after years of seclusion and separation, i’m still able to speak your hearts language. Except it is a reality. My heart never forgot who you were.
Sometimes you can’t seem to grasp reality as well. You don’t realize that its all over, and that you are finally home. There’s a turbulent wave. I only hope my heart’s song can quieten the noise.Youth-5

Him:
I remember bodies, guns, blood and pain no matter how hard I try not to. I toss and turn each night trying to get away from the feel of it all. The memories come out when I am most still, most quiet, most alone, just like in the battlefield. My demons come out to haunt me, taunt me, control me. I drift off, hide, just so that I don’t let it get a hold of me, and eventually you.
I want nothing to happen to you.Youth-1
This . . . this is something i am unable to explain, unable to capture, unable to completely express. It goes way beyond the understanding that I may posses as a mere man. It goes beyond stars and skies. I can only experience the truth that it is. The truth that is love,

We’re now on a new journey. A new adventure awaits us. A journey that is taking us through familiar places. Tough places, Beautiful places. I will stand with you as we go through these places again but yet again begin. I will hold your hand as we rise beyond the trials that threaten to tear us apart and drive us away from each other. We shall lean on the voices of our souls and hold on to the wisdom of love.
Because we are together; King and His Queen.
Youth-8

x.x.x.

To all this, I owe Mr Joseph ‘Nabster’ Chege. Thank you 🙂

Bazuli Bemhlaba

B A Z U L I B E M H L A B A : U S

Imeldah Natasha Kondo: B E A U T I F U L, Deep, F R E E-spirited, Loving, Understanding, Weird, T A L E N T E D, Encouraging, Inspiring, Meditative, Exciting, Infectious*especially her laugh*, C U T E*like a puppy bruh 😀 * Ambitious, Dream-chaser, Fellow W A N D E R E R, A R Tistic, Creative, And ultimately a B E A U T I F U L  S O U L. “She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world.” -Joanne Harris  _MG_3671-2 _MG_3680-2 _MG_3686 _MG_3689 _MG_3693 _MG_3711 Jebet Naava: Powerful, Promising, Patient, Eclectic, Electric, Ecstatic, Cultured, Curious, Saucy, Sultry, Smashing, Dependent, Disastrous. A little hurricane that tears it all down. Places of strength cannot resist her wisdom, beauty, wit, strength, fire. She is a queen of the kingdom of her life. She is an empress in the presence of truth and faith. DSC_9259 DSC_9295 DSC_9252DSC_9246 Bazuli Bemhlaba

T H A N A B S T E R

Greetings earth dwellers,

Today we feature one of our favorite photographers, Canon Kenya Photography Award nominee and King of Tones, Joseph Mbugua Chege – A.K.A Thanabster.

Joseph is an extremely talented and passionate photographer whose consistency and drive acts as a cannon that propels him closer and closer to his destination.

“Before every great reward, comes the footprints of persistence, consistency … courage, faith and patience.”
Edmond Mbiaka

Below are a few of his photographs, enjoy.

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1526752_10203566224371933_7832871780187041637_nCheck out more of his work by clicking on this link ~ https://instagram.com/thanabster .

ALSO, as we mentioned earlier, he is a Canon Kenya photography Award nominee and we would appreciate it if you took a minute to vote for him by clicking on this link ~ http://www.photoawards.co.ke/vote-online

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Bazuli Bemhlaba

E X P R E S S

Greetings Earth Dwellers.

Deep inside us lie emotions we sometimes can’t express. No facial expression, music, poetry or dance is able to rip those feelings out from the vessels in our body. So, they flow like the water. They continue to inhabit every living cell that we have, waiting to be felt and expressed as we purposefully ignore them and hide them under a facade that we sometimes believe to be true but most times, we are aware are lies. We go with the motions until we become the motion that is moved with, we become the song that is danced to and the paint that colors the world. Except we are not complete. Our minds are unable to fully connect with the current time because we left a part of us unfinished, not felt, and hidden. So, we let the emotions that we wrapped around in a block of us linger under the sun and we watch. We stay still. We stay still as the spirit, like the sun, melts away the cold hard shell that encapsulated what was part of our being and as we lay still, we remember, where we were and what we have conquered.

I acknowledge the privilege of being alive in a human body at this moment, endowed with senses, memories, emotions, thoughts, and the space of mind in its wisdom aspect.

Alex Grey

Bazuli Bemhlaba

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Sunrise, Moonrise.

Greeting earth dwellers,

Every morning, the spectacle of the rising sun is with us. We get to watch the colors in the sky morph into different shades and tones, no matter how cloudy it may be, that beautifully tells the world good morning and visibly gives life to everything its rays touch. The sun is the earth’s fire, strong and very penetrative, sometimes even deathly. However, no matter what, the sun awakes in the calmest and purest form and starts a cycle of focus and diligent work from farmer to lawyer, teacher to soldier.

The moon rises in the evening with splendor and grace. Starting in its graying beauty, the moon rises above the sky lines and concrete jungles all over the world. The moon is a symbol of peace and danger, of purity and so much sensuality. As she rises, she brings in a new era every single day. For some, hope others renewal, others peace.

No matter where you are, the sun and the moon always release energies that are absolutely beautiful.

“But the Sun and the Moon
They share more than we know
For over the years both have
Withstood many similar a blow

And still they love one another
unbiased and unjudged
Knowing both their faces
Are tainted and smudged”

-Unknown.

Bazuli Bemhlaba.

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Beneath the leaves.

Greetings Earth dwellers,

Today we delve into our mind and pick at the memories and go back to where this all began: the Kinale forest. Beneath the leaves that delicately filtered the sunlight, the idea of Bazuli Bemhlaba was born.

The forest is located just past Kijabe on the way the way to Naivasha. On this particular day, we purposed to be at the forest by sunrise. The sunrise caught us halfway through the journey. . . :(. HOWEVER! The light that the morning sun provided was too nyummy for us to ignore (and we had woken up too early, and left home early to go back! Mission must be completed!)

It was cold,  really cold. The fog settled right above the round like a protective blanket with thin air just above it. The forest had quite the mysterious feel, almost enchanting.

When the sun finally came out from beyond the heavy morning clouds, it was like glorious birth. Everything had life. Everything opened up. Including us. The heavy jackets came off and we came out of our cocoons and enjoyed nature and the life and beauty it holds. Keep planting trees to have forests that are beauties such as this!

Here is to Kinale Forest; you are quite the spectacle!

“We walked into the arms of the forest…”
Ishmael Beah

Bazuli Bemhlaba.

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WWIM11: NairobiAtDawn

Greetings earth dwellers! 🙂

Last Sunday morning most of Nairobi’s instagram community came together to shoot our beautiful city and experience one another’s creativity. It was a day filled with new faces, friendships, knowledge, laughter and perspective.

Many thanks to  https://instagram.com/instagram for the platform they have so graciously given to photographers and instagrammers all over the world.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
-Henry Ford

Bazuli bemhlaba.

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