Theatre Review: Poison Ivy

WRITTEN BY: Seth Busolo
DIRECTED BY: Pauline Komu
PRODUCED BY: Daisy Busolo, and Samuel Kyama


Reviewed by Faith Oneya

Poison Ivy is not your typical Nairobian play (by typical I mean the hilarious plays  that the wildly famous Heartstrings plays have constantly treated the taste of Nairobi theater lovers  to).  The drama-comedy(or dram comedy) is the work of an original script(forget the adaptations that is the crop of Phoenix plays, Festival of Creative Arts Plays, Culture Spill Productions among others) by a Kenyan Seth Busolo.

Source: Wholesome Entertainment Facebook Page
Source: Wholesome Entertainment Facebook Page

The synopsis on the promotional material reads rather blandly: “They call her Cute Ivy… Pretty Ivy … Sweet Ivy … However Her Brothers wife calls her … POISON IVY. This is the story of a young married couple whose bond is quickly tested by the intrusion of a sister.” It speaks nothing of the impeccable acting, the superb storyline and the entertaining dialogue that makes up the play.

The lead role of Ivy is delivered meticulously. No line, no movement, no gesture seems to go to waste. To her grace and the chagrin of the audience, Ivy’s brother delivers a ‘hot’ slap that reddens her cheeks. The painful facial expressions coming from her in this scene are not wasted.

“Was the slap real?” I ask her later, just to confirm my fears.

Pointing to her swollen cheeks, she says: “Yes.”

“How many more of those do you have to endure?”

“Three more”

“And you could not use one of the noise machines.”

“We tried but it did not work out.”

And you thought acting was easy…

The set is spectacularly decorated, and the actors fittingly dressed.

The couple takes us through the journey of their young union as they struggle to find the sense of balance fulfill the needs of their families.

This is one of those plays where you can take your parents, children, boss and others without cringing at any inappropriate.

Make sure to catch the show next time!


BANKING ON CHAUVINISM AT THE LIMURU GOLF CLUB:Of rich men and the games that they play.

Gloria Mwaniga

In his book ‘the 48 Laws of Power,’ Robert Green may have said ‘Seek attention at all costs’, but some members of the  Limuru Golfing Club took this quote too literally and too far.

Even with the new constitution offering opportunity for more women representation and the world teeming with lots of NGO’s promoting economic empowerment, equity and equality, a bunch of chauvinistic males somewhere in  the cold town of Limuru still hold onto the belief that ‘ a woman should only be seen and not heard’.

These merchants of discrimination, appearing in this time and age can best be described using Shakespeares’ words   ‘ they are untimely snow in mid- summer.’

The gentlemen or otherwise, decided to do an unsavory thing   by passing a bylaw barring women from seeking elective posts in the club.  As though that was not enough, they even suspended the women who protested from the club and its reciprocating clubs like Thika, Vet Lab and Railways Club.

If you thought admitting your form one child or sister into a secondary school was a difficult task then you should try joining a golf club. This rich men’s game is reserved for the high and mighty for the simple reason of providing great networks and feeling good. Some clubs will only admit you upon recommendation of some of their long outstanding members; your curriculum vitae, several interviews and payment of a rather high membership and annual membership.

Having gone through all the trouble of registration and yet still facing  such discrimination, I wouldn’t blame the three women, Rose Mambo, Caroline Ngugi and Martha Vincent for getting lawyer Philip Murgor to sue the club on their behalf. I wish them all the best .

As for the un-gentlemen who think so little of their mothers and sisters, you will definitely be swept aside by the wind of change because time and tide waits for no man.




Humor Exceptionnel:Why Heartstrings Kenya’s Latest Play is a Must-Watch!

Written by Faith Oneya

Disclaimer: I am going to wax lyrical about this play. It is an absolutely biased review . I have not been paid to do the review(Kazi ya Mungu). Neither have I received complimentaries! 😉

Given my past experiences with Kenyan-themed  Heartstrings plays,  I had expected their latest play to be ‘A Kenyan Christmas!’.I was at once pleasantly surprised and relieved that it was not.Their latest play ‘are you a HORSE or a DONKEY’ will dispel any preconceived notions of  a ‘typical Heartstrings experence’.

In my view, this judicious play not only proves that the Heartstrings ‘family’ are truly au fait with the Kenyan political climate but that they also care about the people that they make laugh and are willing to compromise a little on slaptick humour to cleverly interweave messages of peace, responsibility and a tribeless Kenya .


Not fully convinced yet? Here are four solid reasons that should make you watch it.


Number 1:They have a hilarious female standup comedian: Caroline Tharau warms up the stage in a what appears to be a fierce feminist stand straight after the narrator cum comedian Vincent Muasya (aka Chipukeezy) engages the audience in his laid-back ‘mchongowano’ , slightly self-depreciating fashion. In my opinion, Caroline Tharau’s funniest line is “I can write a man a script on how to seduce me’….and she finishes off with the line that she has always wanted to hear from a Kenyan man but has never heard…“Si nikulipie fare”. Then again, you have to have been there get the context!

Source: Heartstrings Kenya’s Facebook Page

Number 2: They have a live cartoonist who constantly draws the caricatures that form the backdrop of the play. This is a first! Armed with a chalk and what appears to be a dirty piece of cloth which he used to rub off the chalk drawings, the cartoonist quietly comes on and off the stage to do his thing.Heartstrings manages to deliver a dynamic backdrop as the artists rubs off the chalk drawings and introduces new ones as the scenes change. The stage comes alive and it makes it very easy to follow the play.

Photo: #NowShowing till Sunday. ...Weekdays 630pm Weekends 3pm & 630pm. Tickets 500/.0721608656.hilarity redefined!
A scene from the play
Source: Heartstrings Kenya Facebook Page

Number 3: Nairobi Half Life’s Paul Ogola graces the show. Heartstrings Kenya has invested in new talent as a number of new faces are witnessed. They do a sterling job but each production has a star and Paul Ogola is undeniably the star here. As the play begins, Paul Ogola is standing in the queue with other passengers waiting for the Syokimau train in vain. He is the agent provocateur here and engages the stammering ticketing agent in a hilarious battle of words. He asks him: “Is the machine slow ama ni wewe?”Paul changes his roles throughout the play with the seamless-ness of a chameleon as he effortlessly and skillfully delivers his lines.

Scene One: Paul Ogola at the front of the queue hassling the ticketing agent…
On the far right is Muasya.
Source: Heartstrings Facebook Page


Number 4: You will laugh and laugh at yourself. This play reveals yourself to yourself in the only way a Heartstrings Kenya play can do. Your ignorance about the new developments like the Syokimau Railway station, your blind loyalty to politicians and their ridiculous coalitions (the baby that you will name “SyoKibaki”) among others. No politician is spared here.Nobody is beyond ridicule. No silly attitudes are tolerated. You will have to watch and see how yourself is revealed to yourself!


Number 5: For once, they have invested in props and they keep time! They have not only participated in job creation (There is need to acknowledge the carpenter engaged to deliver on the props) but they have also realized that 3-hour long plays are simply 3 hours too long!

#NowShowing #HorsesAndDonkeys…today till Sunday. …Weekdays 630pm Weekends 3pm & 630pm. Tickets 500/.0721608656.hilarity redefined!


A Kenyan Mid-December Youthful Dream

By Gloria Mwaniga.


Adios 2012

Elvis Presley sang, ‘who can tell when summer turns to autumn’ and so it is with you. You didn’t even notice when Jan turned to June then July and now December.

Little ambers of hope are still aglow in that noble heart of yours.

These years’ resolutions only remain little stained ink drops on a white sheet of writing pad on the 2012 diary you bought at the catholic bookshop.

It’s rather true that things didn’t really work out that well. But ngoja tu! Next year, you’ll see.

2013 is the year.


It started with a New Years’ Resolution.

Just for the record, damn New Year resolutions.

They have never worked.

For one, you are still at your old job and every morning feels like a visit to the dentist.

Then, you had planned to save much much more this year. (After reading Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but well, even he is bankrupt now right?)

Then there is your love life, you vowed that 2011 was the last Christmas you spent alone. That by 2012, you would have a permanent someone to watch, ‘White Christmas ’with. (And I do not mean your cat.)


Bonus Holiday Trouble.

So you decide to be optimistic about life. (Thanks to Joel Osteen’s CD).

And you focus on the good of the ending year; Like the Company bonus that you were promised at the beginning of the year.

And the company party. (For a little gossip on whom the new General Manager’s eyeing, and who’s dating the hot guy in HR.)

And you will remember to forget the holiday plans you had for Mombasa, and you will postpone that to next year….

And that is why when someone mentions how fast life is changing.

You speak up almost defiantly and say……

Everyday is just the same….same old, same old.  Nothing changes.


But you are forgetting something…..

You forget that you are not the same age you were last year this time.

That the passage of time has left a mark, albeit unseen, on your perspective of life.

That your naivety is dented and a couple of your dreams discarded to give way to the ones that are more ‘realistic’.

You refuse to notice that in November unlike August, the city streets outside the Hilton are carpeted with a beautiful purple, thanks to the jacaranda tree shedding its flowers. And the golden brown broad leafs falling on Mama Ngina street loudly whispering that its fall.

You refuse to admit that your bank account has grown, even so slightly, since the year began.

And you close your eyes to the fact that your fathers’ hair is a little whiter than it was last year.


Everyday is the same.

Sunrise, traffic jams, noisy touts, classic 105 then work.

Same job.  Same boss. Same salary.

January to December.


Yet 2012 is almost over.

Someone might have discovered 1001 ways to use peanut butter in the recent past, but you know that no matter how creative humanity has become, there are only so many ways you can use 25 leave days in a year.

And so you sit and wait…..

You wait for something big to happen.

You wait for that life changing phone call that will waltz you off your rather boring job and into a paradise with a loving boss that triples you salary.

You wait to win TPF from the comfort of your sitting room couch.

You wait to meet that superrich super fly guy so he can buy you a dream house in Lavington, or Thika greens. Or a piece of land in Ruai or kitengela and build rentals there

You wait for your savings to be enough to pay for you Masters at UON .

If you are a writer, you wait.

You wait for a letter from Dorcas Odumbe or a Caine prize nomination.

If you are a teacher, you wait for the next strike that will translate into a pay rise.

If you work for a corporate, you wait for the next paycheck, and the promotion that is long overdue.

If you are a youth’ you wait for the next government’ that will give jobs to the youth

If you are in university, you wait for a real job, after all who wants to volunteer and do anything for free?

You wait because you are a generation Y and you cannot settle for a ‘small’ salary because it cannot fit into your Big Kenyan Dream


You wait because Kenyan men are broke asses (at least the ones you know in Nairobi) or Lazybones (Coasterians) or Players (kisumerian) or Mushy and more loyal than little Chihuahuas (Kao’s).


If you are a Kenyan guy, you dream.

You dream of that one girl who is not materialistic like Madonna.( who lives in a material world.)

You dream of a boss who will one day ‘see your true potential’ and pay you what you deserve.

You Dream of Uganda’s bootylicious chics who serve you on their knees (literally).

Or the Rwandese softspoken submissive chics (Remember Gaelle?)

Because Kenyan girls are ‘too much’ . Shiko loves your wallet, Akinyis ‘raha and beer,’ Wekesa wants a brood of children and Mwende Is too…..well.. active huh?’

Mwanaisha is a lazy spender and Sanaipeis’ parents will want 50 cows (what the hell!!! kwani she’s a BMW?)


And so you stare at the green on the other side….unaware that it too could be a reflection of your Kenyan Mid December Dream!!!


Opinion: How to Answer the Question “When is Your Turn?” at Weddings and Baby Showers

Written by Faith Oneya

You are an eighties baby.  You have gone to so many weddings and baby showers that you mutter words like ‘fascinators’ and ‘fuchsia’ in your sleep.

It is at one of these weddings that you will meet a  former high school mate  you have not seen since the Just a Band’s Makemende video went viral.She will  give you one of those “cheek hugs”(Because she has not fully mastered the  pretentious hug which, if  done extremely well ,should be  a mid-air hug, or something). She will smile and ask;

Where have you been?

To which you will answer.

Around. Niko Tu.

A literally pregnant silence will follow, which she will fill with:

When is yours?

To which you will reply.

It is coming. But do not hold your breath.

She will look at you with sad eyes and pat your shoulders as if you have just been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and say;

Do not worry, Utapata  tu.

On a Friday, you will be invited to a house party, where you will meet a dude you used to go to campus with. You vaguely remember his face because he has gained about ten kilograms and belches more times after two alcoholic drinks than any other male his age you have ever encountered.

He will ask you the same questions as that random chic you met at the wedding asked you. His reactions though, will be slightly different.

Belching man: What have you been up to?(Read: Are you married? Any children?)

You: Not much…I am waiting for the list of supermarkets where such things are bought ndio nijisort…

He will laugh uninhibitedly (As any inebriated man is wont to do)

Belching Man: You mean you never got married? You were too choosy in campus. You never took a look at guys like me.

You: (Assuming a lightly laced sarcastic tone).That is my loss,aki.

Belching man: I work for blah,blah,blah…I have a son now. Would you like to see him?

The belching man will then unleash a Nokia (The phone in a drunken man’s pocket is always a Nokia) to show a grainy 5 minute video of his toddler son chewing on something.

Belching Man will then say with pride;

He is eating a cob of maize.

A few minutes later, after mistaking your silent 5-minute polite stare at the grainy video as a look of longing, he will say;

Do not worry, you will get one too.

You will be sitting in traffic when the ever-relentless hawker will shove a Ben-10 branded toy in your face and say;

Chukua kamoja ka junior.

Because your window is already open and you want to be counted among the polite Kenyans, you will tell him;

Si leo,na ata sina m-junior.

Ah, aki uko serious? Ni sawa tu madam Mungu atakujalia upate.

You will then say: Sawa, asante.

The hawker will watch you pitifully as you drive away.

Later,you will come up with possible responses to shut anyone who would like to know the real answer. Examples;

  • You  got married to a strange man in the bar after a drinking binge and now you do not remember his name or where he lives  you cannot track him down for a divorce( this should be said with a careless shrug of your shoulders)
  • You are still waiting for a response from the dating site you registered and paid a hefty down payment for a match
  • You have just ordered for a groom from an Asian country and are waiting to save enough for dowry
  • You were recently diagnosed with a psychiatric condition that makes you spontaneously stab people who propose to you

The list will be endless. You will share the responses with your girlfriends over cocktails and rejoice in the endless possibilities of life.

Meet the Sassy Soul Sista : Passiona Njeri

Follow her on Twitter: @ Passionita

LC: Tell us a little bit about what you do currently, what are you passionate about?

 PN:I’m a Political Scientist. I’m currently working in a Presidential Campaign!Passionate… Music. Poetry. Politics… life.

The beautiful Passiona Njeri(left) and a friend.

LC: What did they call you as a child? What was the naughtiest thing your mother caught you doing as a child?

PN:Gaceri which is simply little Njeri. My late dad called me Kanua (kikuyu for mouth) coz I never shut up J

My mum once found me stuck, dangling from a tree after she’d expressly told me no more tree climbing.


LC: What are your favorite books?  What kind of books do you read?

PN:I tend to read just about anything, based on my friends’ recommendations.


LC: What are you reading now?

PN:If Only by Geri Halliwell, it’s her autobiography.


LC: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Tell us about it.

PN:Oh yes! Howard Roark from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. He was so strong and defiant. But most importantly he was super brilliant at what he did he managed to scare an entire establishment.

LC: What are you extremely good at?

 PN: Panicking! No, really.  And playing down what I’m really good at 😛


LC: If you died today? How would you like to be remembered?

 PN:As a Passionate, Sassy soul sister. Who shared all she had.

  LC: What question have you always wanted to be asked? Please ask it and answer it!

Q. What is the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned?

A. Learning to just apologize. Apologize without explaining, excusing, justifying or countering. Just say ‘Sorry’

Opinion: For Those Who Spit Blood when they Brush

Written by Faith Oneya

If you are a Kenyan and you watch prime time news(or soap operas), then you must have come across this advert from GSK on their product ‘Parodontax’ for ‘Those who spit blood when they brush’.

See the image below;

I am all too familiar with shock advertising…meant to startle and offend its audience by violating norms for social values and personal ideals. Why else would such an advert be brought at tines when families are probably having their dinner? For those with vivid imaginations, the image of a person brushing their teeth, foaming and eventually spitting blood is all too vivid whenever this phrase is used!

The marketing manager or advertising manager has certainly made us aware of the the product and the blood-spitters are happy that they have a place to call home.