Of Classical Events and Such like Fusions

You know Vionna likes to watch and make observations after all, that’s why my blog is called vionnaswatching. Well I’ve made a few observations lately especially when it came to one Classical concert I attended recently (for legal purposes let’s pretend any relations to a certain classic concert held recently is pure coincidental) Back to my observations, I was fortunate enough to have grown up in both worlds. The “normal” background and the “Barbie” background as termed by people out there. Anyway I digress much, back to my rants and raves. The classic fusion that was held here in Mombasa meant to be awesome. While being advertised, many thought they would get to see the orchestras that were named performing. Mombasa being a touristic place is full of white people, and most of my white friends too were pretty excited about it. The place was already full by 5:30pm when we got there. As usual all Kenyan events never start on time, the show started at 7:30pm. Many people there came with their kids it was a really nice family affair event. You know there is a but somewhere in that sentence. We hoped we would see one of the orchestras playing but sadly that wasn’t the case. They brought an amazing boy band and I must really stress how amazing they are for the first performance. Now even the Bible says there’s an appointed time for everything. A time and place for boy bands to perform and a time for classical music. I remember hearing a few mumbles behind me, some people didn’t have a single clue who the musicians were, others asking which symphony they were meant to sing and I just smiled to myself. Seated next to us, were some serious groupies of the boy band playing very young girls who were screaming their lungs out making it all to be a hangout concert of some sorts and not the class that comes with classical music( there is a reason why classical music starts with class you know) Now this was a mature crowd full of mature people and when this girls were busy screaming while one of the boys in that band was grinding his waist on stage I just thought to myself the white people and strict lovers of classical music really felt wasted. Personally, I felt wasted. Fortunately Ladysmith Black Mambazo came on stage and redeemed the show. And the boy band groupies that sat next to us sat their tushys down not having any clue who they were. And the night was saved thanks to Lady Smith Black Mambazo. But I’ve got to give credit where it’s due, the boy band and Mambazo’s Diamond on the soles of her shoes collaboration was really something for a show stopping end! It was worth staying till 10pm for it. Below I have simply stated my observations, you don’t have to agree with them but hey, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m just stating mine.

1.Why classical music and most Nairobi orchestra choirs are full of white people: MOST white children, the moment they turn three their parents try to enhance their talent, take them for music lessons. They learn to play a music instrument at a very early age and hence tend to appreciate such kind of music not forgetting that their parents make them attend such concerts too at such an early age.

2.Why classical music is not a Kenyan cup of tea event: MOST African/Kenyan children the moment you are able to walk and play outside, you are chased to play outside so fast and come back to eat during lunch, sleep and then go back to play and beaten when you come back home dirty as if we were meant to play while giving any consideration to how dirty we got while playing. The music instruments we played were the old Blueband and Cocoa tins turned upside down and turned into drums if they were not made into cooking jikos for kalongo. We didn’t have time to learn such instruments. For us dirt was good, and having to play the cymbal or flute during music lessons in school was good enough.

3.The Misplaced people who attend such events: Now I know we as Kenyans have a tendency of always wanting to be with it. Just for show or hype, so when we here a classic fusion function we are so there to socialize, wear our leso dresses, big sunglasses and turn it into another Blankets and Wine event. Yet, most people there just come to meet up with friends not having any clue as to what symphony is being played or who’s conducting the band. Maybe that’s why such organizers of such events have to throw in a band that’s not necessarily classical to balance the crowds. A band that I must say is turning out to make women crazy when they start performing, I don’t know if it’s going a little overboard when I liken them to the Beatles, but the way women go into a frenzy when they start performing show’s how talented they are (for safety purposes and fear of getting lynched by women, I will not name the boyband)

4.We need to define between classic and afro fusion: I know I sound like a broken record now, but seriously can we stop with the I’m feeling so African back to my roots I need to dress the part look. It’s becoming to annoying now, even the lesos are complaining. So let’s leave the afro fusion attire for afro fusion events and not turn every bloody event to a Blankets and Wine theme.

5.Last but certainly not least, timing and organizing is important: If you know you have Lady Smith Black Mambazo in your lineup, you need to go the extra mile. Print enough tickets expecting a large crowd and have it in a venue that has enough parking space and plenty of big screens to watch for others. And please for the love of humanity, keep time! Nothing as annoying than arriving for a concert on time and having to wait for more than an hour for the show to start!

Don’t get me wrong, I love how we as Kenyans are embracing the classical, jazz music culture and having our very own Kenyans in orchestras and bands. We’ve started harnessing the skills of our kids now at such an early age which is very commendable. If we manage to stop letting TVs and X Box games to be their babysitters and start teaching them music skills, maybe soon we all will embrace this events whole heartedly. I know classic music is not our thing, we love music that we can dance to and not just close our eyes too, but when we attend such events, can we at least try to pretend we have a clue as to what’s going on musically? And with those few rants, I rest my case as I still feel duped by that classical fusion that was held in Mombasa that didn’t have any orchestra. Even their Safaricom choir would have sufficed. Oops, I just said the name out loud. If this was the first time they were organizing this, I would have let it slip but since it’s not next time make it a classical event will ya?!

Peace and Blessings, Vionna


I Saved My Twins

Now this is probably the most open post I will ever blog about. But it’s October, the month that holds dear to me and one that is important to all women. Breast Cancer awareness month. Now I know many have been joking about it on Twitter, guys having breasts as their avis with pink twibbons on the side and what not, but it’s really a serious matter. Breast and cervical cancer kills 625,000 women every year. That’s a really huge number, but we can do something to prevent it. I’m talking to you ladies out there and maybe by sharing my story as much I love keeping it to myself; I hope it will even move one person to go get their breasts checked

Let me take you back to October 2006: There I was, young in my early twenties so full of life all nonchalant without a care in the world. I was enjoying my life to the full. One day a good friend of mine comes home and tells me her sister cancelled on her and she wanted to go for the free screening test that Mater Hospital were conducting that year and wanted me to accompany her. I thought to myself, well what the heck it’s better than sitting home doing my usual couch potato Saturday ritual of movie watching on the sofa. I dressed up in all pink just to compliment the whole breast cancer awareness month. We reached Mater Hospital at around 11am and the place was already full. Now I’m a very impatient person and there was no way I would wait in line. I remember telling my friend that I didn’t have big boobs like her, there was no point in even having mine checked. Yet she insisted since we were already there, we should just stay and wait. I had my MP3 player on; lips pouted all sulky not talking to my friend. After a long wait, we went to get our information put on record by one of the nurses. I remember answering her with attitude when she asked me when I had my first period, if I was on any contraception pills, cases of cancer in my family and I answered her rudely telling her I didn’t want to be there in the first place, I was just bringing my friend to get her boobs checked. I think she was used to girls like me, she looked at my chest and asked: “Judging by your chest I presume you are a girl?” I kept my mouth shut afterwards and stopped showing her attitude. We were given numbers, went back and sat down waiting to be called by the nurses to get checked. It was 12:00pm by then, I was really hungry, and I really get cranky when hungry and since our number wasn’t going to be called out anytime soon, I decided to leave the hospital and go get something to eat. I came back when some of the breast cancer survivors were sharing their stories and that’s when it dawned on me, breast cancer is real. These were ordinary women just like me, some very young saying how cancer doesn’t discriminate regardless of age or color. Finally at around 3:00pm our numbers were called out, instead of us getting checked at the tent that was outside, the group I was in was told to go inside the hospital. My friend went in first; she was out in less than 5 minutes. I knew it would be a breeze for me too. In I went crossing my fingers that it was a woman who was going to do my examination and not some guy (I was still young and naïve then) thank God it was a very friendly female nurse. She told me to unbutton my blouse as she read my history then started feeling on my breasts. I noticed her face changed when she felt my left breast. She felt it again, and then called another nurse. The other nurse felt it too and called a male doctor. So here I was, scared of what was going on, half-naked with three people feeling on my boobs. They tried to act all calm when they told me they felt some abnormal lumps on my left breast it might be nothing but just to be safe they scheduled me for a biopsy two weeks from then. I dressed up calmly like nothing was wrong; my friend was outside with a very anxious face wondering what was going on inside there. I told her I was told to come back two weeks from then in a very casual manner. I went home, showed my mum and sister the results and tried to act so nonchalant about it. I was scared inside and angry at God, Life and everyone. I had just lost my dad January of that year, and now this. We had barely recovered from the financial burden of losing a bread winner and all I could think about was how I didn’t want to burden my mum again with this. My aunt had come visiting that day, and she is a nurse. So she had me strip down again (if I had a penny for all the people who felt on my boobs that day) she felt it and she also confirmed she felt something. That’s when I started panicking. All I kept saying was I didn’t want to walk around with one boob. I’d rather die than live without my breasts. I really was young and naïve then:-)

Last week of October 2006: Finally the day arrived. I was so nervous, I didn’t want to show it on my face but I was really scared. My friend wanted to take me to hospital, my mum offered too, everyone kept calling me offering to take me but I just wanted to go there alone. I didn’t want to break down in front of anyone so I went in there alone, I found a young girl my age who also was told to come back for more further tests. We really bonded with her and the wait become bearable. She went in first, got her tests done again and came out with a smile on her face. I felt so relieved for her and somewhat for me too. By now I had gotten used to the male doctors and them touching my breasts and squeezing them over and over again, but this time the squeezing was really painful. The doctor then took a needle that was almost as big as my arm; I thought I would faint at that moment from the size of that thing. He then inserted the needle on my left breast and out came fat mixed with blood. That’s when I asked the doctor what the hell he was doing to my breast, and told me it was a biopsy to remove a sample of the suspicious breast cells to determine whether the cells were cancerous. Afterwards a sample of it was taken back to the lab, I was then taught on how to do my own BSE while taking a shower to always check out for lumps. My left breast was paining then, I couldn’t even move my left arm afterwards. Waiting for the results from the lab was the longest wait ever for me. I sat there waiting to be called back while praying crossing my fingers and regretting why I came alone. Right then all I wanted was my mum to hold my hand and tell me all was well. Finally the results came back, and the doctor with a smile on his face told me that the lump on my breasts were benign and not cancerous but just too be safe its best for them to be removed. I was more than elated when I heard the news. Sure I was in pain but it was a smooth walk in walk out procedure. The next few days my left breast was still swollen, I developed a fever and massaging it every day to reduce the swelling was the most painful thing but I was glad I had me a happy ending

Back to October 2011: It is Breast Cancer awareness month again. Every year I always go for my checkups faithfully just to make sure I’m lump free. I just thought I would share my story out there to women who think that BSE won’t save your life. Breast Cancer can affect anyone, and it can be prevented if caught on time. Ladies, we all know men love our twins whether real or silicon based, so why not appreciate our breasts as much as they do and feel your breasts this month and go have them checked professionally too. I love my twins; I don’t know what I would do without them. I managed to save my twins, it’s time we all tried saving them twins’ ladies and gents too! Remember guys get them checked as well breast cancer affects you too. I remember when one couldn’t even say breast, let alone breast cancer. Women did not say that word out loud then, but that has changed quite a bit over the years. In the words of Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Every woman needs to know the facts, and the fact is when it comes to breast cancer, every woman is at risk. I’ve gone pink and done my part, it’s time to do yours.

Peace and Blessings, Vionna