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February 20, 2019

We can go digital in our own unique ways

Cold Stone Creamery, Mama Ngina Street. Photo/JAMES MURUA
Cold Stone Creamery, Mama Ngina Street. Photo/JAMES MURUA

We have pretty simple lives in Nairobi. We always threaten to make drastic changes in the way we live our lives. But the pace at which we do it can sometimes be described as competing with a very old and slow snail. For instance, every year you will hear tales of how this is the year that we as a country will finally have direct flights to the USA. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to have happened yet, and every year we are forced to take connecting flights to the land of the free and killers of black men and women.

Then there is the rain which the powers that be state that this year will not cause any untoward damage to our city’s infrastructure. Cynical watchers of the city and its dynamics will only laugh away these allegations, as a serious downpour quickly renders the central business district a living hell. To make it even worse, you wouldn’t be surprised to find that on getting home, the utility company has rebranded to Kenya Power of Darkness and your home is light free. The only upside is that the ladies can now dust off those boots hidden in the corner and shine. That, and hopefully some farmers getting more harvests.

Another thing that we kept assuming would never happen was this issue with digital migration. For the last four years, the government has been in a battle to the death with three major TV stations: KTN, NTV and Citizen, about the international migration to a digital platform. This platform was set to revolutionarise the watching of TV, and many were welcoming it with open arms.

Unfortunately it was not to be, as the migration was delayed until this past Saturday when the battle took a dramatic shift as those stations’ analogue signals were cut off. This meant that for the first time in over two-anda- half decades, we were forced to not watch some of the most iconic TV through no fault of our own.

How is life set to change with this new shift? The first thing I suspect that will happen will be a shift in our news-watching habits in bars and other public places. We are famous as the only people in Africa so news-obsessed that we will demand while sitting in a bar that they change the channel to a news one at 7pm. With the new changes, the only options for our new obsession being government-owned KBC and K24, you can’t really expect to see many bar patrons demanding channel changes or blood will be spilled.

With the number of Kenyans who allegedly can’t access TV, now that analogue is gone, you can also see a revolution in our lives. Children will be doing their homework when they come home, and then have supper quietly while they listen to their long-ignored elders. There is no need now to negotiate with these kids about going to bed as there is nothing they are staying up for, unlike in previous times.

You can also expect the number of videos being circulated on Internet-enabled mediums to increase in a big way. This is because people will get it into their heads that they too want to be the content producers we keep hearing will benefit most from the change. It will start with every church group selling exclusive content to the religious stations. And you can be sure to hear of other stations taking their place like police stations and fire stations. These guys will quickly jump into the space that has opened up to start reality TV shows for their audience. I only hope that they keep it real, especially where Police TV is concerned. They shouldn’t just show cops apprehending the bad guys who have tried to break the law. There also needs to be clips of cops banking a dubious several hundred thousand shillings after being on the road for several hours.

The biggest winner will probably be the new TV station – Whatsapp TV – where videos which are being circulated will be viewed. These new clips will include those of hawkers on the streets of Nairobi and their fleeing from county police who consider their trade illegal.

Expect Restaurant TV to emerge, with clips from the best TV chefs showing their recipes.

Venue Review: Cold Stone Creamery, Mama Ngina Street

It was Valentine’s Day and there was no way I was going to be spending Sh2.4 million on any hotel room. I settled on going with my partner, son and visiting child for a treat that I had been hearing about from other parents over the last few days. The name of the place I was going to was the Cold Stone Creamery on Mama Ngina Street.

Arriving at the venue, the first thing I noted was that there was a bit of a long line, which made sense as this was the day of love. As we got further in, I encountered a young lady who was offering me samples of something she called vanilla blonde or something of the sort. It was delicious.

I eventually made it to the front of the line where I was given a large number of ice cream varieties. For someone who grew up with vanilla and chocolate flavours, which were then followed by the revolutionary new taste of strawberry, it was a revelation. As they prepared my version of the product, the lady behind the counter was picking the balls of ice cream then throwing them in the air before moving to her right on a counter. As she prepared the product for the person in front of me she started singing. It went something like: “Sprinkles are what we are making, doo daa, doo daa. Sprinkles are what we are making, doo daa dey.” At least it sounded like that to me. Strangely enough, everyone next to her (there were about six staff preparing ice cream there) started singing along to her tune. When my clan got to the counter, we made our orders with names like Love It Signature and Gotta Hi Signature. They came with a waffle, a product rarely seen in my neighbourhood. As they made our order, there was more enthusiastic singing, which was being welcomed with enthusiastic eyes by the many kids in there and resignation from the parents. The whole cost of our order was Sh1,350.

With our order secure came the hard part, getting a seat. There were only two seats available which we generously gave the kids.

A quick recap of the venue:

Good: Great ice cream, decent service and décor,

Bad: Very small and lacks seating for all punters, no emergency exits.

My verdict: If you are a big fan of ice cream, then this is the place for you. Ideal for parents to bond with their kids.

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