Our Man Around Nairobi this week is Boniface Nyaga. Boniface Nyaga is an entertainment journalist at the Daily Nation. He says “I live two lives one as Boni Nyaga the Entertainment writer who runs a Private Consultancy and Boni Bonez the live performance artiste who does gigs with his band Injili Live. Like Clark Kent and Superman both are two sides of the same coin, I am both Bruce Wayne and Batman. It’s hard to sometimes balance the two, but I love them all with equal passion.”
Boni has over 15 years’ experience in media, event management, Emceeing and entertainment. He started out as a DJ and sound engineer with A2Z Events, gradually working his way up to an Event Consultant. As an independent consultant he has worked on several local and international concerts, most notable is the 2012 Move Tour. The international concert tour took 5 Grammy award winning artists, across 20 US cities and 6 African countries. As a performer Boni Bonez has played guitar and lead vocals for several bands before forming his own outfit. INJILI is a collection of highly experienced musicians offering live band, DJ and MC-ing services.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I did. I was raised in Umoja back when it was still considered uptown. We had so much fun growing up, we played ‘Kalongo’ ‘ chobo ua’ ‘brikisho’ and lots of other games. I was in Umoja 1 primary until Standard 4 and then I went to Kamuthatha Boarding school in Embu. In case you are wondering where that is, let’s just say ilikua interior.
Boarding school toughened me up, it de- babitizid (is that a word) me. I’d lived my entire life in town so a boarding school in shagz gave me an opportunity to experience a whole new world. We had to fetch water from the a river about half a kilometre away and carry it up a steep hill, then guard it like gold otherwise, mtu atapita nayo.
In high school, I went to Moi Forces Academy (MFA) where my love for performing arts, poetry and all things dramatic flourished. As for campus, I did a BA in Social economics, which I have never really used, but it’s nice to have one of those things in this job market.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
It’s alive. I’ve been to London, New York and a couple of cities in the states but I always miss Nairobi. Kenyans love complaining about what we have but until you have experienced the empty cold streets of London or strange stares in New York you won’t appreciate Nairobi.
I would never live anywhere else Nairobi is great; lovely weather, strange but lovely people. Of course, the meat here is great, you don’t have to drown it in barbecue sauce to make it half decent, just a solid roast with kidogo salt and you are in heaven.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
I really wish we appreciated our City a little more, I had to travel out of the country to really appreciate Nairobi. We are way too hard on ourselves, I mean sure we have problems but who doesn’t? There is a reason tourists keep coming back here, we truly are warm welcoming people.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Well, Nairobi is both open and not open in other ways. I do more than just one thing so it works for some and not for others. As an entertainment journalist, it’s pretty straightforward; I get assignments from my editors and execute them to get paid at the end of the month.
My private consultancy practice is not as straightforward, because most of the things I do are pretty groundbreaking and it’s sometimes hard to convince clients it will work. My clients vary from 4-star hotels, entertainment brands, prominent business personalities, political aspirants, NGOs, and showbiz events to professional conferences. I trade in my technical know-how and my technical know-who; my network is my net worth in more ways than one.
It is also challenging because most people hire me to advise them, then go ahead to ignore my advice only to blame me for the failure. However having talked with other consultants from other countries, I would say it is not a Nairobi problem it’s just human nature. People don’t like to be told what to do especially when they are the ones signing the check.
I consult in the areas of Media, Events, entertainment, and branding; I have a combined 15 years of experience in various sectors. I am really a student of life and over the years I have become an expert at becoming an expert so I have learnt how to adapt to the Nairobi market. Some people critic my do it all approach to work, but It is the only way to survive in this ever-changing world. If a phone which used to call and receive calls today does so many things, I don’t understand why businesses think they can survive doing just one thing right. My long-term plan is to set up a one-stop shop, to help businesses in the 21st century to survive change and always end up on the right side of history.
5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
a) The meat obviously is a must-try, get a good nyama choma joint and have a feast.
b) Try out our matatus they are quite a ride especially Rongai, Buruburu or Eastleigh matatus.
c) Visit the game parks; Kenyans rarely do but you will most probably like it.
d) Go to a party, wedding or social gathering, you will dance like you have never danced.
If you would like to interact with Boniface you can find him on Twitter at @boni_bonez and Facebook.