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January 17, 2019

Bring out the gag, it is necessary

Last week was an interesting time in Nairobi as Parliament passed a new law to regulate the media industry. While most of the provisions therein were welcomed, many people felt that the new law can only be described as ‘draconian.’

The bone of contention is the fines that would be meted out on media players as individuals or institutions since they would effectively gag them in their duties as the country’s watchdog.

Fortunately, the president opted not to assent to the law as it requires more dialogue: all players involved need to be contented that it is a good law and not one aimed at curtailing freedom of expression by muzzling the media.

So, more dialogue is required, right? I don’t support the media being gagged on one hand but on the other hand, the idea of gagging can be helpful in certain scenarios.

There are sections of Nairobi population that need gagging if we must think about it. In the past, gagging would have worked quite well for public service workers or touts, popularly known as the ‘makangas’.

In some parts of the city like the Kencom bus stop in the central business district, the ‘makangas’ lead the way in advertising their products without the need for gagging.

I suspect that with time, shouting by ‘makangas’ would be a thing of the past. We can only hope that it will happen within the time frame of Vision 2030, otherwise there are some who need to be gagged urgently. Let’s start with for instance one going out to have a drink and then ending up in a club to shake a leg with friends.

One of the worst experiences for a ‘clubber’ is encountering DJs who decide to test their vocals by jumping into every single song. You will be subjected to these boisterous guys who lower the volume of the music at the chorus and sing along at the top of their unmusical voices.

The worst part of the whole scenario is that the guys usually sound like Tusker Project Fame rejects and go on to destroy your favourite song. Regardless of the song they are playing, they will somehow find a way of ruining it for you.

This makes you wish you had stayed home or relaxed at a local joint. The gag would be an effective way of taming these errant DJs for the sake of music-loving revelers.

It’s not just in the club where one needs to think about application of the Nairobi gag. There are those who never take interest in the exploits of a squad of 25 men as they battle it out with their opponents over a period of nine months to bag the trophy.

The gag would therefore be applicable among many football fans. It would apply to all Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Arsenal and Manchester United fans who habitually make so much noise.

So what if this is your season after eight or 18 years without a trophy and it’s ‘giniwasekao’ ( we have already taken this thing)? Think of what the rest of the population feel when you flood the streets of Nairobi or their social media timelines with your ill-advised bragging. Gag them I say.

The same applies to street preachers who decide that your peace and quiet is not to be valued. These are not the preachers who were recently featured on an excellent investigative feature on NTV.

Here, I talk of the ladies and gentlemen who are suddenly visited by the holy spirit in a public set up and go on to enumerate the benefits of living a godly life because we were all washed by the blood of Jesus.

These are individuals who decide to steal your calm and start preaching. You will have quietly started your journey to work on a Monday morning in anticipation of a long day then suddenly, a gentleman or lady stands up and starts telling you how amazing the lord is.

While you do not deny this, you find it difficult to enjoy the ‘in transit’ sermon. If you ask the person to lower their volume, they usually increase it just to annoy the demon in you trying to prevent the spread of the word.

To make matters worse, as you approach your destination, they make a lengthy and passionate prayer which is followed by a call to contribute to support the ministry. It sounds the gag would come in handy to shield you from loud and obnoxious people who make so much noise when you least need it.

Follow me on twitter — @jamesmurua.asy


VENUE REVIEW: Ruby’s Lounge, Panari Centre, Mombasa Road

 Nairobi has gone crazy in relation to pricing of drinks in pubs and restaurants. With prices from the main brewers creeping up, it makes sense that some of the bars would increase theirs.


However, the prices in Nairobi can be quite trauma inducing for a wallet at any time of the month. We are seeing beers in some random places retailing at unreasonable prices; when I was, for instance, subjected to a Sh250 priced Tusker in a pedestrian restaurant, I knew I was not getting value for my money.

Last weekend, I found one of the few places where the owners understand something about giving value for money- Ruby’s Lounge at the Panari Centre on Mombasa Road. I had seen a few ads about the place somewhere.

It is on the first floor of Panari Centre, which is convenient for anyone who might want to access it using a wheelchair.

The centre has an entrance dedicated for this. It is fastened with some red cords as you get there, but I am sure if the need arose, it would be used to serve the specific purpose.

The entry on the first floor has a stand with a hostess who led us into the destination venue. We mostly see clubs with hostesses on TV and rarely would you find such a club in Nairobi.

There are seats of several varieties. The place has wooden floors which are worked on very well. To the left, there is a counter with some higher wooden seats but I ignored this and sat by the big flat screen where the onset of a football afternoon was imminent. The gracious hostess came through with a menu and to my pleasant surprise, my usual Tusker was retailing at Sh250. I was expecting to be charged much higher considering the investment that has been put into this place.

The beers came and without being too churlish, they were not the expected cold temperature; they did however come with a chilled glass which is always appreciated. One of the other beautiful things about this place is the balcony where one can get a view of the National Park and beyond.

A quick recap of the venue:

Good: World class decor, excellent service, clean washroom, disability access, TV for the sports junkies, amazing view from the balcony.

Bad: One entry and exit thus not ideal should an emergency occur.

My verdict: One of the best lounge experiences I have had in a while. Excellent probably for a first date with someone you are trying to impress.

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