Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Lobel in the Global

My days off days like today are seldom, but they always are full of reflection, Al Jazeera and running around half naked in my backyard under the sun juggling the football. If I do have an off day I usually spend it at my favourite Somali cafĂ© reading the news and sharing stories with friends. In any case I haven’t written for a while so this is gonna be a long one. Take a deeeep breath.

Often people ask how long I’ll stay in Kenya, to which I have no answer. Nairobi has not only become home but a great place for me to grow into someone I never could have imagined. My wish is to stay here, but our lives are always on the edge of change and something so small could turn this life of mine in any direction. One thing that I love about life is its uncertainty; you can do as much as possible to live the way you want but still the future remains uncertain. I do miss my loved ones back home (you know who you are), but I can’t leave the life I have here just to have them back in my arms. My largest inspiration (my step father) Adel has moved back to Egypt and I can’t describe the pleasure I get from knowing that we are no longer a world apart. Although we are still divided by the Sahara desert, which isn’t the smallest distance. I’ll be hopping on the first camel out as soon as I have enough funds.

The truth is that I do love Nairobi but one has to look beyond all the horrible traits it’s stigmatized for. Nairobi is a festering pot of grease but it’s the ingredients that make me love it. I would love to know about another city that has a huge economy rich with Islamic culture, rastafari, and of course traditional Africa and where at one minute you can be smoking a joint in the slum and the next be in a massive air-conditioned mall. Lately Kaka, Peter and I have been showing up at the Ex Pat parties to raid the beer. I don’t have a lot to say about the Ex Pat community here but I will say they know how to throw nice big expensive parties. My favourite part is the spreads. I love it when Kaka and Peter stare at me curiously as I eat like I’ve been a POW for the past 6 months, inhaling massive chunks of humus and other exotic dishes they’ve never seen, and that I long for on days when local stew just isn’t hitting the spot. I yell across the room at them with my mouth full and face covered with nacho dip “DIG IN GUYS!!” (Yes my party etiquette has room for improvement) and then they slowly put a small morsel on their tongue as they look at me as if they’re about to be poisoned. I remember last year when Justin and I were at a UN dinner function for youth graduating from a entrepreneurial program. They were serving shrimps on the side of the dish to the youth who were all from the slums, who eat Boiled meat and Ugali everyday of their life. They all left the shrimp untouched so Justin and I frantically ran around the party picking the shrimps off of the empty dishes trying to eat them all before they were taken away. One of my old friends Sammy from Kibera asked in a very serious tone “Nathaniel… You are eating the snake?” Needless to say Nairobi isn’t known for its food and some times this is very difficult for me.

Last weekend I was given a role in a play by a group of friends from the “Galaxy Players” a local group of professional and amateur actors that put on plays for schools and communities and who I have mentioned a number of times on this blog. We competed in a AIDS awareness themed drama festival and took second place. I actually don’t like acting and much prefer to be behind the scenes but it was still a nice experience being on stage with a group of very talented people in front of a full auditorium. I had the opportunity to act alongside the beautiful Leah Okumu who took the award for best actress and piece of my heart. I have just been informed that we are performing again next Saturday at a different venue and I can’t decide how to feel about that.

One of my least favourite things beside plain boiled chicken is being idle. On a day like today when the only time I left the house was to buy a cigarette, I feel like I missed something. I will never be able to live alone. If there is a night when no one is here or we don’t have visitors (which is almost never, my home is a preschool by day and a rehearsal space by night), I actually feel sad. Working on the Up With Hope stuff can’t fill everyday so I take part in anything that sparks my interest, hoping to meet interesting people and for new experiences.

Thanks again for checking in on this random blog. Get tuned in, spaced out and enjoy life.

The Mlango Soldierz

Bob Marley and checking facebook

Mlango Kubwa Highrises

Fixing flat tires on highways in Kenya is pretty much asking for death

My best friend Stacey

Momma Stacey. Kaka and I painted the menu.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Remembering John Kibe

This is a burial we did in Central Kenya. The plains you see in the beginning are the tea plantations which are a massive cash crop for Kenya. I shot this on a flip camera so it's so shaky because I have perpetual turbulence hands. I know anyone who has watched my movies who knows how to make movies has notcied I don't own a tripod. I do now and that problem will not be existing anymore.

Friday, 20 August 2010


I just finished a contract with UN-HABITAT to do this movie. Thought maybe you might enjoy it. It highlights one of the recycling centres "M.Y.U.G Integrated Recycling Centre" that Up With Hope started. I have been making movies since I was 9 years old with Sean Ross and friends in the back yards and alleys of east van, so this has been a big step for me.

Friday, 6 August 2010


Mombasa is a 100% wow place. I want to buy a house there and become old and wrinkly under the sun.

While we worked just about everyday we were there, we did manage to have a stupendous amount of fun.

One of the highlights was working with BIGSHIP Youth Group, who took us on a wonderful tour of their area. They have only been a youth group for 1 year and have accomplished more than what most youth groups can get done in 10. Instead of the usual boring sitting around in a circle talking, they took us on a trek down to the water where they swim, catch fish and are currently working on a tree planting program. They are the exact definition of people who know how to give and take from the land on which they live. I really look forward to working with them in the future.

Mombasa has the best Swahili ever and my favourite is meeting Swahili people who have lived all their lives in Italy. I wish I could do an impression but you can't hear me.

Bamburi Beach

This is the BIGSHIP beach. This is not a tourist destination, it is only used by the locals and that little boat you see in the water has been carrying residents who live in the hills on the side for 50 years. The residents are the original tribes from Mombasa.

BIGSHIP group member and fisherman extraordinaire.

Needless to say I was feeling overwhelmed to have been welcomed into such an amazing place.

The nightlife is Mombasa is something else, but I don't think it has anything to do with the real Mombasa. I'd rather sit on the beach all day and night than go to a noisy discotheque.

(and by the way these photos were taken on my cellular phone)