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Picture by Cheka Photography

A quick review of my 2016 and all I see is the hustle, reward and gratitude. At the start of the year, I promised to challenge myself and test my limits. Pegged on high hopes and aspirations, I started my year with high expectations unbeknownst to the challenges that would befall me. The hustle was real and PR game strong, making the result invaluable in an extremely difficult path to tread. Let me break it down.

Securing all the media partnerships and managing PR and communication for Sauti Sol’s Live and Die in Afrika Tour – Kenya’s most successful nationwide tour in record – was no joke. If I had known how difficult that task and job was going to be – I might have reconsidered. I almost lost my mind – being on tour for about six weeks back to back from town to town, catching up on media partners, local stations, reports, press conferences, press releases et al. At the end of it, we garnered record numbers reaching out to a majority of campus students but most importantly – we set the pace for Kenyan music entertainment. Thank you Radio Africa, Nation Media, HBR, Urban Radio (Kisumu), Moi University Radio (Eldoret), Beat99 (Lagos), Hero Radio (Nakuru), Lolwe TV (Kisumu), Muuga FM and Meru TV (Meru) and any other media fraternity that partnered with us on the tour or on any one of our campaigns.

That was Feb to May. Starting July to Dec, I got into another project close to my heart – being Publicist of Coke Studio Africa for a second time on the show’s fourth season.

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The experience on the show for me is always priceless because I love African music, expression and achievement – exactly some of the pillars of the show, which promotes cross-cultural collaborations. Season 4 drew artistes from six additional African countries making the total eleven, namely: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Angola and Ivory Coast. Themed Discover, the season empowered my discovery of dope music from other parts of Africa, and for me – the feeling of learning and discovering at work just keeps me alive. Finally meeting and working with artistes I have adored in the past was also another highlight. In total I worked with over 30 of Africa’s leading music talent and an international guest star (Trey Songz). It was difficult to keep concentration at work sometimes, I mean how can you while you’re sitting next to Trey Songz and all the superstars you see on MTV on a daily basis like Stonebwoy, Falz, Maphorisa and Toofan? At times had to just work from home to ensure that I’ve locked down my deadlines during the day then get into the studio in the evening as our work hours usually extended till midnight during the recording period.

I wrote about Meeting and Working with Trey Songz: Part I

Being Editor and writer of cokestudioafrica.com blog was fun too! Here are some of my favourite articles so far:

The Different Faces of Falz

Flavour on his illustrious musical career

Yamoto Band on Fame and Fortune

Henok Mehari on the legend of the Mehari Brothers

‘Coke Studio is a lifestyle’: Madtraxx on Producer Speak

Joh Makini on uniting Africa

Travel and tour was generally more local and a tad minimal internationally-speaking. Our office holiday in Diani at Swahili Beach was dope 🙂 The party during my return to Diani with Tomas was bomb, inspiring a mission to explore club cultures across cities. We just need the time and money for this! 🙂

Sauti Sol’s media tour in Dar es Saalam in partnership with Clouds Entertainment was probably the sickest we’ve had in TZ yet. Thank you Kerry and B-Dozen for agreeing to partner with us and believing in my proposal.

Trip to Mombasa to see Chris Brown and Wizkid live in concert was dope! I wrote about the importance of the event and meeting Wizkid and Bebe Cool. Read Wizkid and Chris Brown Mombasa Concert: Bebe Cool State of Mind (Part I)

My trip to South Africa was like a pilgrimage. I had never been to South Africa and I knew that this year I had to go over to Jozi to attend the MAMAs (MTV Africa Music Awards) because Sauti Sol would be winning. My heart told me that after almost ten years of consistent hustle, sweat, hard work and tears – this would be Sauti Sol’s year. For that reason, nothing or no one would stop me from attending the MAMAs just to witness that moment. And then we won our first MAMA for Best Group.

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Despite the challenges and difficulty, I made it to Jozi and had the best company – Tomas! Thank you, and Maria too for keeping us company. Below are some of my stories from Jozi:

Retracing South Africa’s History: Visiting Apartheid Museum (Part I)

Visiting Mandela House: Retracing Nelson Mandela’s Soweto Home

My week in Johannesburg – 7 things to do in Jozi

Another Publicist’s dream come true was when Sauti Sol made it into E! Yes! The Kardashians E! And yes! They traveled all the way to Kenya to interview Sauti Sol. Thank you E! and Sauti Sol Style Squad for bringing it and Kempinski for hosting us.

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In May, I was offered a rare opportunity to be a mentor on Blaze Kenya, Safaricom’s mentorship initiative. It was an honour for me as mentoring has always been close to my heart because I honestly owe my key career lessons to my first mentors who were producers at BBC and KBC. When I was younger I kept changing my mind on professions I wanted to take up severally, up until I settled on journalism last minute right before completing high school. If I had known professionals, ladies especially, who had excelled in other non-traditional or artsy careers then I would have benefitted from their mentorship or example because it was hard to be different and be the best in what you only envision in your mind. While the on-boarding process was a nightmare, the intense personal training for mentors provided me with invaluable Life Lessons on: how to package myself as an individual or brand and how to tell my story and be a public speaker. I had a ball mentoring at the Journalism Pod alongside Patricia Kihoro, Tamima Ibrahim, Nick Mutuma and Anita Nderu.

After seven good years at reporting, hosting and producing on TV I quit my TV job at Grapevine KBC in September because I was tired of doing the same thing or being asked by people why I haven’t moved the show to another station. What value is there in doing the same shit on a different day and place? I want to be different and will only take opportunities that embody that and additionally challenge me to learn and be better.

I wrote about leaving Grapevine – read Looking Beyond: A Tribute to Grapevine TV Show

For a long time I have loved the style and ethic of Not Just Ok – Nigeria’s No. 1 Music site, so it was serendipity when its founder approached me to Head their new East African site: link to site (it’s pretty new, we haven’t even announced yet but will do soon). In the mean time, submit quality East African music content to anyiko@notjustok.com

In November I got a new monthly column on Yummy Magazine (Nairobi’s premiere Food & Lifestyle magazine) where I am now interviewing celebrities on Food, Drinks and their Lifestyle. First feature was Yemi Alade and second, coming out mid Jan, is Tinie Tempah.

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Despite the harsh winter season, Chrismas in Czech Republic was so beautiful I don’t even have words to describe it – still grappling over other to-be-posted blogs.

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In the mean time, some stories from Czech below:

My week in Prague – First time in Czech Republic

A Czech Christmas on 24th December

Some of my other highlights included being featured by DRUM Magazine, I blogged about it. Read Yaaay! Finally Got Interviewed by DRUM Magazine (April 2016) Others included running PR with my Anyiko PR Team (they were amazing) for Sweden@Kenya project by the Embassy of Sweden, together with the Kenyan Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts, as well as the Swedish Institute. I am proud of a Sweden@Kenya Op-Ed written by the project’s team that I orchestrated and was published by Daily Nation. Read – Why we must prioritize the creative sector

Somewhere in between – I found love. It’s just great to be in an equal, respectful and symbiotic relationship. It’s rare to find someone who cares so much that they will be tough on you and at the same time challenge you to be better because they believe in you and see your potential. In the recent past I have craved for meaningful relationships and being in one now makes me want to be better. It makes me feel like I have not only come of age but I am deserving, and that inversely empowers my self-esteem, and longstanding slogan – that ‘I am enough’—inspired by Susan Omeara, a powerful editor and woman who also played a part in mentoring me.

In 2017 I just don’t want mediocrity. I also don’t want to ask for much because 2016 rained torrents. I want to be in even more meaningful relationships cutting across work, friendships and alliances. I want to find more time to read the books I love and complete the political jargon that I’ve been reading since I can remember. I want to write more on arts and culture for mainstream paper, discover more music and write on the same, get back to TV or producing content and then travel back to West Africa.

Thank you to those who gave me a chance and opportunity and held my hand in times of need. To those who inspired me when I really needed it – thank you too. Those who were tough on me – thank you too because you made me tough and work harder. As always I am open to learning and becoming better.

Wish you all a great 2017!

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