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Portraying Kenya’s Magnificence; Safaricom

Nafurahia undugu na ukoo wetu (I rejoice our brotherhood and family)…these are the first words that welcome you to this enchanting ad and with a spectacular view of Mount Kenya to top it. Despite lots of talk regarding Niko Na (title of the ad)…taking a glance at it for the first time one would need no persuasion placing it in the tourism sector right? Not only is this not a tourism ad (it would be awesome if it was), it comes to many a surprise as a mobile network operator’s ad. Safaricom went on a level high on this one ( Qantas controversy aside) showcasing Kenya’s beauty and all the magnificence it has to offer.

From here the ads could only be expected to go a notch higher, then comes the current ad Naweza (I can)…a continuation of the previous…Hence Niko na Safaricom, Naweza (I have Safaricom, therefore I can). Many can surely attest to the fact that had it not been for the ads, they would still be in oblivion to some of the regions showcased existing in Kenya.

The ads take only a minute or so, but the work behind that magical minute, we can only try to comprehend the energy, dedication and manpower that goes in to all that. Kudos! Safaricom for the beauty portrayed…Kenya Tourism Board should definitely borrow a leaf. Below we take a look at the making of the ads and how much goes into producing perfection.

Sun ‘N’ Sand Demolition; A step in the right direction?

Club Sun ‘N’ Sand Kikambala, Ever been?












To some it is etched in their cherished memories as where they got to exchange their vows on that beautiful wedding day, others spend somewhat part of their lives providing service to numerous guests, and generally to many, this is the place associated with a well deserved and out of this world holiday vacation. Well whatever memory or experience it has offered you at any point, Club Sun ‘N’ Sand now remains but a construction site for the new Sh15 billion Ocean Seven apartments. Yes, the five-star beach resort with a capacity of 600 is to be demolished…shame.









The new construction is said to be as a result of the rising appetite for luxurious apartments;  the proposed apartments will consist of two commercial blocks and five residential to be sold to investors. Aside from having 325 condominiums in 17, 19, and 25 storey towers, the 17-acre hotel plot shall feature an exercise park, flora and fauna, as well as a Biogas plant for recycling garbage.





Upon completion, locals are said to be given priority in employment with the expectation of 10,000 opportunities directly and indirectly. Kilifi governor, Amason Kingi stated that the county would abide by the 70 per cent local workforce and 30 per cent outsiders employment rule. So far, about 50 percent of the units have been sold to Kenyans.

Pikolinos Maasai Campaign 2013

Meet William Kikanae Ole Pere; the Maasai elder whom thanks to his tireless endeavor in search of a better and quality life for his tribe, saw the creation of the  “Maasai Project“.


The project which was successfully launched in 2008 saw the coming together of Pikolinos, the Spanish footwear brand & non-profit company and Alternative Trade & Microcredits (ADCAM). William initiated the idea of collaborating the Eco-friendly and socially responsible companies to create a footwear line that earns profits to further women’s development and additional projects in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

ESTRADA FOOTWEAR - Spring/Summer 2013 campaign

The Maasai Project seeks to supply the Maasai people with  resources and tools  needed to better both their educational and medical needs as well as help in preserving their endangered culture. All the embroidery featured in the campaign footwear is hand sewn by the Maasai women showcasing their intricate designs and natural artistic talents; this has seen about 1,600 women gain employment.

The embroidered leather pieces – brought to Kenya to be worked on by the Maasai women – are flown back to Spain where the processing of the complete product is done. Proceeds are then distributed to the Maasai tribe.





Olivia Palermo; model, fashion consultant and this year’s Maasai Project Brand Ambassador, got to experience first hand, the life and challenges  of the Maasai people during her tour to Maasai land in pursuit of getting to know the process of embroidery work as well as shoot the Summer 2013 campaign for Pikolinos.


In her own description of the amazing work produced by the collaboration,

“Fashion and development, cooperation and fashion, fashion and Free Trade – this combination is possible.”

“Thanks, Pikolinos, because indeed another world is possible.”

Olivia Palermo’s look book on her work and experience during her project trip to Kenya…














olivia-palermo-william-kikanae-pikolinosWilliam Kikanae and Olivia Palermo

Brand Maasai: Why nomads might trademark their name

Imagine a Maasai warrior, or a Maasai woman adorned with beads – it’s one of the most powerful images of tribal Africa. Dozens of companies use it to sell products – but Maasai elders are now considering seeking protection for their ” brand”.


Dressed in smart white checked shirt and grey sweater, you’d hardly know Isaac ole Tialolo is Maasai.The large round holes in his ears – where his jewellery sometimes sits – might be a clue, though.

Isaac is a Maasai leader and elder. Back home in the mountains near Naivasha, in southern Kenya, he lives a semi-nomadic life, herding sheep, goats, and – mostly importantly – cattle.

But Isaac is also chair of a new organisation, the Maasai Intellectual Property Initiative, and it’s a project that’s beginning to take him around the world – including, most recently, London.

“We all know that we have been exploited by people who just come around, take our pictures and benefit from it,” he says.

“We have been exploited by so many things you cannot imagine.”

Crunch time for Isaac came about 20 years ago, when a tourist took a photo of him, without asking permission – something the Maasai, are particularly sensitive about.

“We believed that if somebody takes your photograph, he has already taken your blood,” he explains.

Isaac was so furious that he smashed the tourist’s camera.


Twenty years later, he is mild-mannered and impeccably turned out – but equally passionate about what he sees as the use, and abuse, of his culture.

“I think people need to understand the culture of the others and respect it,” he says.

“You should not use it to your own benefit, leaving the community – or the owner of the culture – without anything.”

“If you just take what belongs to somebody, and go and display it and have your fortune, then it is very wrong. It is very wrong,” he says.

Olivia_Palermo_Maasai_Project_Campaign_010Olivia Palermo ambassador of the Maasai Project 2013 for Pikolinos

According to Light Years IP – an NGO which specialises in securing intellectual property rights in developing countries – about 80 companies around the world are currently using either the Maasai image or name.

These include Land Rover, which has a range of accessories called Masai; Masai Barefoot Technology, which makes speciality trainers; and high-end fashion house Louis Vuitton which has a Masai line, including beach towels, hats, scarves and duffle bags.

Light Years IP is involved in a niche – but growing – area of development policy, known as “intellectual property value capture”.

The argument is that intellectual property rules offer the potential to provide a valuable source of income for people in developing countries, who tend to get only a small sliver of the profits made on their goods on the international market.

If the Maasai ” brand” were owned by a corporation, it would be worth more than $10m (£6.6m) a year – perhaps even “tens of millions”, according to Layton. How much of this the Maasai might be able to claim would be up to negotiation.


MAASAI5-655x430Features of the HIGHLY ENDANGERED: THE MAASAI awareness campaign.

“It’s time the world sat up and took notice,” says Lord Boateng, a member of the UK’s House of Lords, whose grandfather was a cocoa farmer in Ghana. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”

Boateng is on the board of directors of the newly-created African IP Trust, which has taken on the Maasai as one of its first cases.

“They are not getting value. Their image is being abused,” says Boateng.

“The Maasai are an ancient and sophisticated people – they know they are being ripped off and they want this to stop.”

It is not yet certain that the Maasai will choose to pursue intellectual property protection – Maasai elders like Isaac ole Tialolo want to be sure that the whole community is on board first.

Together with Light Years IP, he has been travelling around Maasai areas holding meetings and workshops.

It’s a huge task – according to some estimates, there could be as many as three million Maasai, in 12 districts, spread across a vast swathe of Kenya and Tanzania.

So far, they have reached about 1.2 million people.


Once the consultation is complete – and if the Maasai choose to go forward – the plan is to create a General Assembly of Maasai elders, trained in IP, who would act as a legal body specifically on this issue, negotiating with companies via a licensing agent, on a case-by-case basis.

For the moment, the Maasai are not going after any companies – though they have written to a number, in cases where they have found the use of their name or image to be particularly offensive.


Conference Tourism; A booster for Kenya’s ranking

The Tourism sector receives some good news as Kenya gets ranked second as a Conference and meetings destination in Africa by The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Kenya’s ranking shoots up from its previous third position and comes second after south Africa. It also falls on the 58th position globally in the ‘Country& City rankings 2012’ unfortunately slipping two positions.

Kenyatta_Conference_CentreKenyatta International Conference Centre

Tourism permanent secretary Ruth Solitei stated that the performance demonstrates how conference tourism in Kenya is growing and further addressed the need for more convention and conference facilities of international standards in the country.

In city rankings, Nairobi was positioned second after Cape Town having hosted 22 international meetings while the latter hosted 38. Mombasa and Naivasha tied at position 34 with Naivasha making a remarkable first time entry in the rankings. It has been regarded as an  emerging city destination. Last year, Kenya hosted 29 international association conferences and Nairobi emerged 100th best city destination, up four places from the position it held in 2011.


USA topped the list globally after hosting 833 conferences with Germany in second position followed by Spain having hosted 649 and 550 conferences respectively.

Governor Joho in Clean up exercise

In a clean up initiative dubbed Mji Wetu Wajibu Wetu, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho led amongst others; students, local music artists, the US navy, companies, politicians and other residents in an effort to bringing out a new image to Mombasa county. The exercise launched on the 18th of may, targeted  areas known to be a menace in terms of garbage accumulation; Kongowea Market, Mwembe Tayari, Marikiti (Mackinon), Majengo and other parts of the CBD.


This initiative which is sponsored by the private sector is clearly a step in the right direction although eliciting  mixed reactions; some locals have applauded the efforts while others are still reserved about it stating that cleaning the town once a month will bring no clear change. Earlier on, hoteliers and some businessmen had gone to court accusing the Mombasa Council of not collecting garbage.


The exercise is aimed at making Mombasa one of the cleanest in East Africa as well as attracting more tourists in a better, cleaner environment. It has since been declared a monthly exercise.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Takes Oath of Office

Although amidst opposition, in reference to her suitability to take office by members of the committee on appointment, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the new Tourism cabinet secretary. This docket also incorporates East African affairs and Commerce. Seeing as the ministerial positions are no longer politically based (cabinet secretaries are not inclined to any political party and/or are not politicians) Kenyans are hopeful to see immense growth and development having that the appointment of the new cabinet in place is mainly (the loyalty card was used on some obvious appointments) based on Merit.


Mrs. Kandie comes into office at a time when the tourism sector is experiencing major challenges that need to be dealt with immediately if growth in ratings and arrivals is to be expected. For instance the docket is at the moment lacking directors and members of various boards that fall under it after the outgoing minister Dan Mwazo went on a  firing rampage in the name of transforming the ministry. Furthermore, the current insecurity situation in the country has proven to be a threat to tourism as well with the number of arrivals reducing by the day. Other challenges include; increase of wildlife poaching, poor marketing of Kenya as a tourism destination, Failure of implementing the Tourism Act and also the fact that this year was an election year, many tourists preferred to stay away in fear of  a repeat post-election violence occurrence.


With this and many more other factors in tow, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie sure has her work cut out for her. As president Uhuru Kenyatta expressed, the tourism sector  expects to expand to 3 million visitors and  therefore she definitely has a lot of work to do; not time for dilly-dally. Hopefully her background and experience in various sectors will help catapult this industry to the top.