NOMAD 36 | Pole Pole in Lamu

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Pole Pole in Lamu


Tribe Hotel in Nairobi's Northern region stands out for masterful blending of modern, classy interiors with African art and cultural artefacts. Reopened in February 2022 following extensive renovations, Tribe has a fresh new look from the high-ceilinged lobby to the restaurant, guestrooms and outdoors areas. Contemporary African themes are in every part of the hotel. The business-style guestrooms are enhanced with impressive little details such as original paintings and figurines by African artists, carved handles on the closet doors, hammered metal mirror frames and natural stone bathroom walls.

Take your sleeping quarters up a notch with a split- level loft suite, a two-level penthouse suite or the presidential suite, with separate living areas and kitchenettes. Guests booked in suites also have access to the exclusive Club Lounge.

A free-form swimming pool with slate grey tiles is a welcome relaxation on a hot afternoon. Or invigorate your morning with a session at the fitness centre. The Kaya Spa, a modern sophisticated retreat, reflects the enchantment of kaya forests and offers a range of treatments including hot stone, Kenya gold and Thai massages. The refurbished Jiko restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. A bright sunny atmosphere in the restaurant’s patio area along with shrubs and air plants create a green environment in an urban setting.

Jiko’s revamped menu is described as elevated, African-inspired cuisine. Much loved Kenyan dishes and inspirations from around the continent have a new twist with enhanced flavours and quality organic ingredients. Jiko is a popular dining spot for Nairobi’s residents.

A short walk past a soothing water feature leads to state-of-the art meeting rooms ideal for boardroom sessions, conferences and banquets. The sundeck is the perfect place to wind down after a workshop.


Unwinding at Longonot Loft, the eco-friendly loft house


Driving down the sandy driveway a timid friendly dog greets you at the car park at the back of Longonot Loft house. Still not knowing quite what to expect, we enter through the small gate and through the beautiful Swahili-style double doors. The inside is tastefully finished and brightly decorated with lots of natural creams, blues and greens. You are immediately struck by the views of Mt Longonot through the floorto-ceiling windows at the front of the house, while the open plan living area is fresh and inviting.

The housekeeper shows you around a very well-equipped kitchen, supplied with drinking water, gas for the cooker and a large fridge. We opted for self-catering at the Loft although a chef can be organised to look after you at an additional cost. Hot water is provided by a donkey stove which the staff team fills with eucalyptus on request.

The upstairs ‘loft’ has a lovely double bed under the window and a comfortable space for an additional single with a sofa bed. Downstairs is the master bedroom ensuite with a smart bath/shower and a large comfortable double bed looking directly out to the mountain side.

Outside is an L-shaped swimming pool, loungers and a sofa area. Sitting in this spot you really feel the presence of Longonot, meaning ‘mountain of steep ridges.' Horses roam along the fence line while buffaloes and other wild animals are frequent visitors.

The loft has good Wi-Fi and makes for an idyllic work-away location for those who can take advantage of remote working. We spent the weekend enjoying the nearby activities possible due to Longonot Loft’s location, including a sunset excursion on a small boat on Lake Naivasha. We were stunned by the volume of hippos and exquisite bird life on the lake. For the longer day on Saturday, we went cycling in the nearby Hells Gate National Park, and the geothermal springs afterwards were a welcome relief to our tired legs. On route back to Nairobi on Sunday, we decided to hike up Mt Longonot. It was a breathtaking climb and walk around the caldera of the volcano.


Good year and better to come

The holiday season is with us again and it is marvellous to see how things are looking up in the Kenyan tourism sector. All over the travel industry, the feedback from hotels, tour companies, restaurants and other stakeholders is positive, with immense gratitude for the return of tourists and much optimism for 2023. Even more properties have reopened and new builds are much anticipated, including Kwetu Nairobi from Hilton’s Curio Collection, and a JW Marriott safari lodge in the Masai Mara.

Exciting to see is the resumption of various events and annual happenings that were put on hold due to Covid-19. Bill Kosar reminisces about the Dar es Salaam yacht race 3 years ago which resumes this December.

This issue takes us to Lamu, the oldest town on the East African coast and where the Nomad Travel Club has a beautiful selection of guest houses and

private homes to recommend for your next coastal holiday.

Female photographers are the focus this time round for the Top Shots section of the magazine and they have captured impressive images of everyday life and culture.

Daniel Popote, who won the IUCN International Ranger Award 2022, reminds us about the significant work of rangers tasked with protecting wildlife, our natural heritage and frontline communities. Young hotelier Azhar Madhani tells us how he started a stunning luxury camp that operates around a highly eco-conscious philosophy.

Across the Indian Ocean, contributing writers Linda Jonsson and Riccardo Zennaro discovered that the lovely island of Mauritius is actively embracing sustainable tourism. Lisa Christoffersen wears many hats, most

recently that of founding the first women-only rally in Kenya.

In our lifestyle section, we take a look at the influencer and fashion industry from two different perspectives. Amiable and exceptionally creative Brian Kimanzi talks about his experiences as a successful content creator. Dida Ali reveals her unexpected journey into championing fashionable attire for Muslim ladies. Also, check out a selection of our top ideas for gifts this holiday season.

Warmest wishes for the holidays and a very Happy New Year.

Kari Mutu

Contents News & Events Noteworthy events, recently and coming up Top Shots Kenya’s female photographers present everyday life and culture Nomad Top Interview Azhar Madhani on blending luxury with eco-conscious principles Lifestyle Top content creator talks about creativity and style Modest Elegance Dida is championing fashionable attire for Muslim ladies Gift Guide Nomad’s top picks for unique gift items A Holiday in Mauritius How Mauritius is taking sustainable travel to heart Green Hero The significance of wildlife rangers for successful conservation Tanga Yacht Race Experience the oldest yacht race in East Africa Cover photo: Lamu by Sandy Bornman Contents photo: Zanelle Wanja 12. 14. 20. 30. 32. 38. 40. 42. 46.
NomadAfricaTravel @NomadAfricaTravel @NomadAfrica_ NOMAD Issue 36 · November 2022 · PUBLISHED BY PURPLE ELEPHANT VENTURES, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DIRECTORS Ben Peterson, Jan Van der Does de Willebois, Mikul Shah, NOMAD LEAD Jodi York EDITOR Kari Mutu DESIGN Karan Khalsa HEAD OF SALES Rachael Ndeti CREATIVE & EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Bami Malaika BOOKINGS MANAGER Carol Soi FINANCE & ADMIN LEAD Natalie Kokonya. SALES ENQUIRIES

New Hope for Northern Whites

Another five northern white rhino embryos were created in September 2022, bringing new hope to the rarest rhino species. The oocyte collection was performed at Ol Pejeta Conservancy which has the last of this species. It was a collaboration of scientists and conservations including Leibniz Institute in Berlin, Dvir Kralove Safari Park in the Czech Republic, Kenya Wildlife Service and Wildlife Research and Training Institute.

Mountain Bike Challenge |

The 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge returns to Mt Kenya from 24-26 February, 2023. This is an annual charity biking race to raise funds for the Mount Kenya Trust that supports the sustainable management of Mt Kenya’s biodiversity. Since 2002 the race has raised over $600,000 for planting trees, building an elephant corridor through farmland, two wildlife underpasses and healthcare support to thousands of schoolchildren.

New Baby Gorilla Names

Rwanda’s annual Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony happened on 2 September at Volcanoes National Park. 20 newborn baby gorillas were named by a host of renowned personalities including football player Didier Drogba, Britain’s Prince Charles (now King Charles III) and Kenyan music band, Sauti Sol. Since 2005 Rwanda has been naming new mountain gorillas, as a way of honouring the country’s most iconic species.


Oldest sailboat race returns

The Dar es Salaam to Tanga yacht race returns on 8-16 December, 2022. This is an overnight race from Dar-es-Salaam to Tanga, keeping Zanzibar to port in both directions. Organised by the Dar and Tanga yacht clubs, it is the most popular offshore boat racing in East Africa. At least 20 teams normally race through the sunny, warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Tweet while you Trek Kilimanjaro

Climbers on Mt Kilimanjaro can now instantly track their journey through Twitter or Instagram. In August 2022, the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation put up a broadband network at 3,720 metres (12,200ft) on the mountain. Mt Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free standing mountain and the highest point in Africa. It is also Africa’s most visited hiking destination.

Uganda debuts at the Venice Biennale

Uganda made its debut entrance at the 59th edition of the 2022 La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) international art exhibition. The Uganda pavilion, titled Radiance: They Dream in Time, received special recognition at the opening awards ceremony in April. Shaheen Merali curated the works of Collin Sekajugo and Acaye Kerunun, aimed at furthering understanding of the semantic intelligence of Ugandan traditions and its modernity.


Architecture is such a big part of Mombasa as a coastal town which has evolved but at the same time, preserved some of the old buildings over the years. The building photographed here is the ACK Mombasa Memorial Cathedral church which has stood there since 1905. What makes this building interesting is that it resembles a mosque since it was built in a Muslim dominated community and therefore, there was a need to blend in. Attire also embodies the culture of the people of Mombasa and always marries seamlessly with the architecture

Samsung S10


Sabrina Said @sabrina_said__


Udaku Mtaani translated into English means “Gossip in the Streets." The photo depicts the day-to-day life of the Swahili culture. Wherever you go, you are guaranteed some hot gossip and a good laugh.

The shot captures two Swahili women gossiping over some snacks they made for chai ya saa kumi (4 o’ clock tea), a time when women gather to prepare meals for their families and talk about their husbands, children, friends, neighbours and absolutely everything the town has to offer on that day.



Wavuvi is a pictorial representation of the vibrancy and simplicity of Dunga Beach, Kisumu. Organised fishing, aside from being a source of sustenance, greatly supports the livelihood of those in the area, even contributing to women’s empowerment as they are able to earn income from daily catches. When you next visit, be sure to take in the beauty of Lake Victoria, join the queue and relish the fish delicacies that Dunga Beach has to offer.

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Azhar Madhani on creating his eco-conscious luxury camp

Ishara Mara is a stunning new, eco-conscious luxury camp in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the brainchild of young visionary Azhar Madhani.

Azhar, 28, is an adventurer at heart and has loved spending time in nature since his childhood. He dared to dream of a different and sustainable way of recreating the conventional safari experiencing in Kenya.

The location for Ishara is a place he often camped at during many visits to the Mara as a university student. Born and raised in Kenya, Azhar studied finance at Western University in Canada, but then felt moved into a different direction. In 2018, he graduated with degrees in Global Development and Eastern Philosophy.

One of Ishara’s co-founders, Pilot Naurori, is an indigenous Maasai landowner in the Mara who frequently accompanied Azhar around the Reserve and became his close friend. “One day, Pilot approached me and suggested that since I came here a lot, had an understanding of the local culture, and access to a great network of people, I

should consider creating a camp,” said Azhar. “Something that could attract tourism, while also providing them with a sustainable livelihood.”

Ishara is the Swahili word for ‘sign’. “Whether in nature or life, the signs are always there if you just stop to notice them,” says Azhar. “People ask me how I found this location but the truth is, it found me.”

Building a safari property was never part of his career plans and he had no hospitality training, but the idea aligned with his sense of adventure and conscientious travel. Azhar did not want just another safari lodge. “My family and I wanted to provide a meaningful, eco-conscious and holistic experience where mind and soul intertwine with the beauty of nature,” he said.

Ishara opened in March 2022 after a 3-year build. Azhar’s father, with over

30 years of entrepreneurial experience, was instrumental in shaping the concept and overseeing business matters. His mother was the creative mind behind the interior design, décor and choice of art pieces while his brother, Qaher, manages all the operations at Ishara.

With dozens of exclusive camps in the Mara, creating something unique was no small feat. I found it an elegant camp that combines luxury, loving attention to detail and care for the environment. Contemporary, African themes permeate every space along with culturally-inspired and contemporary objects d’art.

Each expansive tent facing the Talek River has a sitting and bedroom area, vintage copper bathtub on the deck, indoor and outdoor showers, yoga mats, reusable water bottles for you to keep, Nespresso machines, a personal journaling notebook and


more. “Storytelling was important to us because every design element here has a reason and deeper meaning,” he explained.

An elevated wooden platform with a star bed makes for a spectacular evening under the African night sky and is the first of its kind in the Maasai Mara. The raised observation deck gives you panoramic views of the river and plains beyond.

Azhar is an avid, self-taught photographer who takes every opportunity to be in nature. He wanted guests to have a similar experience, capturing memories and telling stories with beautiful images. That was the inspiration for partnering with Canon to create the first Canon brand experience centre in the Mara.

Complete with high-end Canon cameras, accessories, binoculars, editing and printing services, guests at

Ishara can get photography classes and guided photo safaris. Ishara’s safari guides are all Canon-trained, incredible at wildlife sightings and finding photographic opportunities.

For years, concerns have been raised about the proliferation of hotels in the Mara. Azhar believes there is room for eco-conscious properties that “respect the environment, bring benefits to the community, and where guests have a really special experience.”

Consequently, the camp feels like a completely natural environment. “We didn’t cut down any trees but planted over 5,000 more indigenous trees,” said Azhar. “We had to also find innovative ways to build the suites and walkways around the existing ecology.”

Rainwater is harvested for the camp’s use. A 110kW solar farm produces renewable electricity for this off-grid property. A solar-powered aeroponic

tower farm grows over 200 kilos of fresh organic produce monthly, consuming 90% less water than a normal farm. An all-season wildlife waterhole was created at the spot used to source building murram, forming a flourishing micro-ecosystem. A strong philosophy of community support means the staff force is entirely Kenyan and 40-50% are local Maasai, including a female Maasai naturalist and two female guides.

During my visit, a group of excited local school children were getting photography lessons from Canon and Ishara trainers. “A big part of the camp will involve the youth from our community, enabling them to tell and document their stories,” said Azhar. “Just imagine these children one day being filmmakers, famous photographers and brand ambassadors of their cultures.”



A place where history hums in the air, where the past stands confidently in the present. Old Town is the centre of trade. Fishermen bring in their daily catch and boats cruise the mangrove-lined channels around the archipelago's islands.

Lamu's attraction is its ability to preserve culture and heritage, its natural beauty, welcoming people and charming guest homes.



Named for a nearby dhow boat workshop, Dhow House is at the edge of Shela village of Lamu Island behind a white sandy beach. A wooden Indian-style door opens to a beautiful, spacious home in a glorious private garden surrounded by high white walls.

A lounge, dining room, and a number of spacious terraces make maximum use of Lamu’s light. The interiors have stone floors, ornately carved furniture, sunken sitting areas, shuttered openings, carefully selected art pieces. The Dhow House takes up to 14 guests in 7 bedrooms.


Forodhani enjoys one of the best positions on the island, close to the renowned Peponi Hotel and at the very start of the island’s wonderful 8-mile beach. 5 en suite bedrooms with wonderful sea views take up to 11 guests. Professional friendly staff, including an excellent cook will do everything possible to make your vacation relaxing and magical. Forodhani is suitable for families or groups of friends.


This magnificent, 5-bedroom private home in a commanding beachfront position enjoys wonderful ocean views. Beautiful gardens, a large rooftop terrace with a bar, dramatic infinity pool add to the allure of this luxurious holiday home. A full complement of staff is available to take care of 12 guests – 8 adults and 4 children. All bedrooms have a sea view, dining is al fresco and you can relax in the gazebo on the dunes.



At the end of a shell-strewn shoreline is the threebedroom Full Moon House. Named by nocturnal fishermen for its guiding night glow, this vacation rental is perfect for island living. A private pool and beach access, and a double room that can convert into a twin room makes Full Moon ideal for a family vacation. Booked on a self-catering basis, a cook can be arranged and staff can handle food errands. Meals are served in a private dining area or on a terrace and stewards handle the housekeeping needs.


This renovated, 2-bedroom Swahili-style house is furnished with beautiful antique furniture. Garden House stands in the corner of a small, walled garden full of palm trees. It has sea-front views yet is screened by large neem trees. Booked on a selfcatering basis the 4 guests will be well taken care of by the staff and management. Chef and meal requirements can be arranged, then served on an open rooftop terrace or a private dining area.


Named after the historic merchant dhows that plied the Indian Ocean, Jahazi House is at the edge of the sea on Kizingoni beach. Set in a large garden of frangipani, fruit trees and shrubs, the house accommodates 10 people in 5 bedrooms. Jahazi is designed along traditional lines around an inner courtyard with a private pool and bedrooms leading off from it. From the first floor makuti-covered veranda you can watch the dhows coming and going, and have your meals here.


Part of the Moon Houses collection of beach homes, the enchanting Kiwandani House features minimalist coastal-inspired decor with deep historical value. Three en suite double rooms cater for up to 6 guests. Kiwandani is self-catering but has full-time stewards and managers while a chef can be arranged as well as purchases for daily groceries. Relax in the inner courtyard and garden pool, and enjoy your meals at the dining area or a terrace.



A highly romantic, self-catering, onebedroom retreat that is perfect for couples and honeymooners. Betty’s Suite sits on Shela’s seafront and beach, providing lovely views across the Lamu channel from a private roof terrace and elevated infinity pool. On-sight management and staff take care of your daily needs. Betty’s Suite can be booked alone for a secluded stay or alongside one of the other Moon Houses.


A highly charming and beautifully-furnished family house in Shela village, Kilamawingu faces out over the Manda channel. 5 en suite, tastefully decorated bedrooms can sleep 10 people. Colourful Indian fabrics on carved beds remind you of a private home. The corner master guestroom is particularly lovely with windows on two sides catching the cross breeze. The swimming pool is set in a lush garden area. Additionally Kilamawingu comes fully staffed on a self-catering basis


Kinooni House is one of Lamu’s oldest historic homes. It was once the home of the Governor of Lamu in the late 18th century, at the time an emissary to the Sultan of Zanzibar. The carefully restored house with traditional Swahili design and craftsmanship bring back the elegance, simplicity and grandeur of the original mansion. Kinooni is an extremely spacious home that takes 8 people in four double rooms, all en suite. Verandas, terraces, and a pool make living it a luxurious pleasure behind rough walls.



12 guests can find cool, comfortable accommodation at The Cabanas. Each cabana has a large double bed, bathroom and private terrace made entirely of palm thatch roof and elevated coral foundations. Carefully sited to allow for maximum privacy, The Cabanas are surrounded by indigenous trees, shrubs and bird song. Paying tribute to the owner’s husband, each Cabana name is rooted in the Hawaiian language. Enjoy the fabulous pool and dining area with panoramic views.


This home is named after its former resident, Anne Spoerry, the founder of the Flying Doctors service. Built from local materials, Mama Daktari has an unusual yet pleasing geometric silhouette that blends with the surrounding landscape. It overlooks mangrove trees and tropical forest on a stretch of white sandy beach. The house has 2 private suites and a master suite at the highest point of the house, offering outstanding views of the channel. It is connected to Betty’s Suite and Garden House.


What better way to experience Lamu than on a reconditioned traditional sailing boat. Tusitiri is chartered on an exclusive use basis for sailing safaris of 12 guests. It is also available for Lamu day trips for up to 25 guests. Life is centred on Tusitiri’s broad deck. There are beautiful ocean views, quiet corners to relax, and storage and changing places in below-deck cabins. Water sports and sustainable activities can be enjoyed daily. After dinner white linen bedrolls are set up on deck by the crew.



Lovers of history and culture will enjoy the Takwa Ruins on the southeast side of Manda Island. This old abandoned trading town dates back to the 15th century and is accessed by a 30-minute boat ride from Lamu town, passing through mangrove-line waterways. Now a monument under the National Museums of Kenya, it is open to visitors. A guided tour gives you insight into the history, culture and architecture of ancient East African coastal settlement.

Lamu Excursions


Lamu is renowned for the making of silver jewellery and intricately carved doors, furniture and various other woodwork. These fine crafts have their origins in the legacy of Arab, Indian and Portuguese interactions with the East African coast many centuries ago. However, Lamu artisans have developed their own style that is unique to the region. Carpenters and silversmiths still practise their craft and sell their wares from workshops and shops along the alleyways of old town Lamu.


Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site is the oldest settlement on the East African coast, and maintains much of its culture and heritage. To walk through its narrow, winding streets is to step back centuries in time. Behind high coral stone walls and elaborately carved wooden doors are houses built in the traditional style with inner courtyards and rooftop lounges. Along the way, pass furniture makers, silversmiths, fruit vendors, tailors and traders. In the absence of vehicles, donkeys are the main form of transport.


Various, well-preserved historic buildings in Lamu town give a visual map of the island’s history. Lamu Museum is a fairly recent structure but houses collections of artefacts and cultural items of great historical importance. Visit and learn about Lamu Fort, a former prison turned into a museum and research library. In close proximity is the historic Mwana Arafa Jambeni, originally the home of a noble family and expanded into a government office during the colonial era.


The body art of henna painting dates back centuries and is practised by numerous communities in the world, from South-East Asia and the Middle East to North and East Africa. A dark paste made from the dried leaves of the henna shrub is used by women to decorate their arms and legs in elaborate fashion for weddings, celebrations and special occasions. Arrangements can be made for professional henna painters to come to your place of residence in Lamu.


A sublime way to experience Lamu is by taking a sailing trip on a traditional dhow boat. These wooden sailing vessels, handcrafted at local workshops, are a centuries-old mode of transportation between the islands of Lamu’s archipelago. A dhow ride is a relaxed way to tour the islands, explore the mangroves or wind down the day in the late afternoon while watching the setting sun.


The life and style of influencer, Brian Kimanzi

Content creator and top male influencer Brian Kimanzi is a man of many talents with an eye for fashionable clothing. I chatted with him about his creativity, style and what really goes on behind the glamour.


Brian Kimanzi is always trending on social media, dressed in smart outfits and marketing for various brands. His Instagram handle, @kimanzi, has over 20,000 followers which places him among the top male influencers in Kenya.

Kimanzi’s fashion style can be described as a mix of sharp suits, street casual and contemporary African. His keen sense of dress, he says, comes effortlessly although his mother played a role in nurturing his taste. “In family pictures I noticed that my mum always used to always dress me in a smart way.”

“But now, this is how I always dress without thinking of it as fashionable or stylish. Then people tell me, ‘you look nice.’” Most of his clothes are custommade by his tailor and he also has a ‘plug’ who sources unique outfits for him.

Despite the popularity, Kimanzi has an unpretentious, easy-going and humorous personality, and he often incorporates these elements into his entertaining video clips. “Humour has been part of my life since childhood and I find it relates well with everyone around me,” he said.

From the outside Kimanzi seems to lead a glamorous life of fun, fancy clothes and trips to bucket list places. But behind the scenes an enormous amount of work takes place before viewers see the final product. Kimanzi is involved in every stage, from ideas and concept creation, to script writing, shooting and editing.

Initially he did all the content creation by himself but now works with others to film, edit and produce. “I am a firm believer that you can’t do everything,” said Kimanzi. “Having someone else also brings in a third eye and different perspective.”

Kimanzi describes himself as a free spirit, eager to learn and very experimental. Born in Othaya county of central Kenya, he spent most of his

childhood in Machakos county before moving to Nairobi.

Prior to entering the creative space he worked in different fields, a testament to his exploratory nature. He studied law at university and even made court appearances to present legal briefs. Later, he worked for the United Nations then moved into broadcasting before becoming a copywriter and content developer in advertising, an industry he is still part of. “Sometimes circumstances took me there and sometimes it was trial and error,” he said.

Around 2013, he started putting occasional content onto Twitter, usually around funny experiences. At the time video content was not as popular as it is today. Nevertheless, his explorations helped him to “learn the craft, perfect it to what I feel is working better.”

As one of the early birds in content creation Kimanzi says it was tricky trying to strike a balance between working full-time and creating material in his free time. Over time he switched to Instagram which has proved a better platform for expressing his craft.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic and movement restrictions which were an unexpected bonus as it gave him time to work on some long-envisioned ideas. Being a pioneer in the digital content creation scene means Kimanzi has not needed to pitch for commercial partnerships. He has partnered with renowned brands such as Jambojet airline, Coca Cola, East African Breweries, Mastercard Foundation, and Instagram for Africa Day in May 2022, a collaboration with influencer Patricia Kihoro.

However, his original digital material is eye-catching and engaging. He has evolved from comedic styles into more thoughtful clips with narrative elements and fancy picture work. Though Kenya, and Africa in general,

are viewed in the West as less creative regions that are constrained by lower budgets, Kimanzi is confident about the capability of local creatives and influencers. “We don’t need to look at the west for our inspiration when we can get it from our own people,” he said.

Kimanzi’s advice to upcoming influencers and creatives looking for paid collaborations is to take time in crafting proposals. “Brands are expecting these proposals and it is easier to sell your brand when you have a proof of concept or a portfolio,” he says. He also cautions against becoming too comfortable with one’s achievements. “I always say, ‘my last work is my pitch for the next work.’”

Though he has achieved critical success as a content creator and influencer he does not rule out career changes down the road. “I’m a one-step-at-a-time kind of person and I go with the tide,” said Kimanzi. “If this is something that can last for a long time, well and good.”


Dida Ali: modern, modest & stylish

Khadija Ali is a Nairobi-based architect who champions stylish Muslim womens’ fashion. She talked to Nomad about her journey into this side of her creativity.


Khadija Ali – or Dida, as everyone calls her – says she was a tomboy as a child, that her mother was always pushing her to wear girly clothing but without success. As she grew older, Dida started liking feminine clothes. “My mother is definitely happy that I wear more dresses and skirts now,” she says.

In her younger years Dida never wore a hijab (head covering) but started getting into it around 2011. “I was never forced, despite a lot of Western misconception regarding the hijab,” she said. “I also did not know any local hijabi content creators which is why I decided to start my own blog.”

In 2015 there were very few hijabistas (Muslim fashion trendsetters) and most were based overseas. Blogging about being a hijabista was initially a fun and creative outlet which evolved into a serious hobby. Today Dida, 32, has over 7500 Instagram followers at @ thisisdida and attracts interest from brands seeking partnerships. Nevertheless, she chose to continue with her education and studied architecture at University of Nairobi, graduating in 2016. “In architecture school we were taught to explore creativity in many ways, not just in one line of work,” she said. Today, her career is a combination of architecture, interior and graphic design. Dida’s dress style is elegant yet minimalist, ranging from formal and dressy to casual and street style. She favours solid colours with the occasional soft patterns, and enhances her outfits with a few pieces of gold or silver-coloured jewellery. She stays away from close fitting wear, saying, “I feel self-conscious in tight clothes, ever since I was a tomboy.”

When shopping, Dida buys lots of staple pieces, rather than statement garments, then creates outfits by combining the clothes in different ways. “Not only does this make my life easier but it’s more sustainable too.” Conscious about the huge waste generated in the fashion industry, Dida

goes for clothes with a longer lifespan and the flexibility to mix and match. Some of her favourite stores are Platform, LC Waikiki, Woolworths and Forever 254. “But I love a good thrift session too,” says Dida. “With hijabi fashion there is no one-stopshop for everything. It’s about working with what is available and styling it in modest ways.”

Modesty is key in dress expectations for the Muslim woman, Dida’s main target audience. “I like to think I’m giving fellow hijabistas inspiration, the same way I needed it when I first started,” she says. Her understanding of Islamic women’s wear is that, “A woman must cover her modesty (i.e. ‘entire body’) except for the face and hands. The clothing must not be too tight or show the shape of their body.”

For those interested in dressing stylishly yet modestly, Dida's advice is to take it in small steps and explore different modest pieces. Modest dressing is more than kimonos and abayas (long robes), “In Islam it is the niyat (intention) that counts.”

Her combination of classic garments with long, flowing lines creates a stylish look for special occasions, safari travels, or everyday wear, and can easily be adopted by women of any background.

Becoming a hijabi fashionista has been fulfilling, nevertheless Dida occasionally experienced backlash from fellow Muslims. “I understand we all want to see each other follow the righteous path, but sometimes that scrutiny easily turns into hateful comments.” But her family has been supportive, even her conservative father who, she says, was quite happy once I started wearing the hijab full-time. Dida’s face is always beautifully made up, a self-taught skill that was a big test of her self-confidence. She suffers from eczema, a health condition characterised by inflamed and itchy skin. People with extensive eczema often experience emotional and mental distress.

“As a child it was much harder because that’s when my eczema was at its absolute worst,” said Dida. “I always felt different and unworthy of a ‘normal’ life.” Though she still does not have a sure-fire way of handling the negative emotions she has learned to accept and cope with the condition both physically and mentally. When not working, Lamu is her favourite destination and, coincidentally, her hometown because is the place her father was born “The culture and experiences it has to offer is so beautiful for a Muslim girl like myself who grew up in the big city of Nairobi,” she said.


Lisa Christoffersen is championing women’s motorsports

Interior designer and art curator, Lisa Christoffersen, founded the Lioness Rally, Kenya’s first all-female rally. Born and raised in Tanzania and now living in Nairobi, Lisa talks about charting a new path in motorsports.

How did the Lioness Rally start?

My father was a rally driver in the early 1970s and I’ve always loved motorsport. The idea for the Lioness Rally came up during the World Rally Championship 2021 in Naivasha. We were standing on the roadside when I noticed that the only women there were like us, spectators. That sparked the idea to start the first ever, Kenyan female-only rally team.

My vision was to do it differently, not just start a rally club but become a women’s empowerment movement. I made some phone calls that evening and, fast forward to today, we’re now a registered community-based organisation.

Tell us about the Chui Racing Team?

Pauline Sheghu and I make up the Chui Racing team which is a spinoff from the Lioness Rally. The goal for the Lionesses was to be the first women-only rally team and we’ve done it. We had an amazing race, broke the bias and made history in 2021. Now we’re moving on but Lioness Rally still serves as a launchpad for empowering women in rallying.

Under the Chui Racing Team, affiliated with the Kenya Racing Team, we race under our own names, like many other great drivers.

What’s the most important aspect of the driver-navigator relationship?

You need to balance each other, which is the case for Pauline and myself. We have great chemistry and energy, and we’re always pushing boundaries. Calmness is important, none of us gets heated up and we strive to keep a positive attitude. I trust her to navigate me in the right direction, she trusts me to drive her and vice versa.

How different is 4x4 rallying from regular rallying?

It’s more about strategy than speed. How do I finish this 200m course without touching the sides, considering I’m only allowed to reverse up to three


It is also about obstacles which makes it mentally stimulating. You usually walk the course forwards and backwards, looking at everything, to understand how to tackle it when driving. It’s a great metaphor for women taking charge of their lives by being in the driver’s seat.

What does the future hold for rallying women?

The future for women’s rallying lies in both young and mature women who perhaps thought of it as a maledominated sport. We want to encourage women interested in motorsports, especially the youth. We now have youngsters driving buggies. The youngest female champion is 11 years old, and drives in autocrosses where buggies and cars race against each other. When she gets her driving licence at 18, she can officially become a rally driver.

We’re also hoping that a motorsport academy is developed at the Kasarani Grounds to teach women of all ages about rallying.

What is next for the Chui Racing Team?

The Rebelle Rally 2023. We plan on driving a Mobius, a 4x4 brand founded and assembled here in Kenya. We’re having the car shipped to America and want to encourage other Kenyans to join us as we take motorsport to the world.

What other exciting projects are lined up for you?

I was recently asked by friends in Italy who drive modified luxury rally vehicles to organise a rally here. So, I suggested a course from the source of the Nile river through Kenya, ending at the Indian Ocean. The idea would be to capture the diversity of the landscapes in Kenya, the people and the culture.

I would also like to rally in Marsabit because I find northern Kenya

spectacular. It would be quite fun to do a car race then put everyone on a camel for a camel race. I’m all about creating different experiences, embracing new challenges and coming up with new ideas.

Your advice for women looking to get into rallying?

I say just do it, never say no and always be open to the next challenge. I’m happy to share my experiences. I encourage women to join the Kenya Racing Team which costs Ksh 5000 and you can have lessons with an instructor. You can even just come and watch first to see if this is something you want to try.

Where can our Nomads catch the Chui Racing Team next?

At the exciting Machakos RX from 1920, November 2022.


A Slice of Lamu in Nairobi

Swahili architecture is exemplified across the East African Coast and has an innate ability to calm, cool and gentle the senses. Grounded in multicultural roots from Arab, Indian and African influences, it is an aesthetic that has evolved over centuries yet maintains some key pillars in style and principles,

One can hardly envisage transporting such a distinctive style to Nairobi's metropolis. Vanessa Roumeguere, the warm and effervescent proprietor of Manzili House, took a risk when inspired to build a new property in the upmarket Karen neighbourhood, just a stone's throw from the Giraffe Sanctuary... and some of Nairobi’s top restaurants.

Manzili is an exclusive homestay, a home away from home. It consists of two separate abodes connected by a courtyard shaded by the umbrella of yellow-hued acacias (the only sign you are still in Nairobi). The larger main house, Manzili is what you first encounter as you pass under an antique, carved wood portal. It has an airy, open-plan living space with the dining and kitchen overlooking the courtyard swimming pool so the entire home is bathed in light.

A team of Lamu artisans built the lime plaster walls, staircases and intricate detailing such as the vidaka or architectural niches. The property illustrates a depth and breadth of perseverance, skill, vision, and design prowess

that is truly inspiring. Four en suite, double bedrooms flank the common area, each with its own patio access. Manzili House sleeps 8 guests.

Across the courtyard, is Manzili Ndoto House, a self-contained 2-bedroom en suite home with its own kitchen, living and dining area. Manzili Ndoto sleeps four guests in two bedrooms. Both houses can be booked together or separately.

Sundowners are taken in the baraza or rooftop patio of Ndoto House, underneath clusters of acacia flowers that are low enough to graze with your finger tips.

Sleep comes with an other-worldy calm and the distant evening calls of the tree hyraxes. A stay at Manzili is undoubtedly unexpected and yet you can’t help but feel as though this little slice of Lamu belonged among the acacia-laden suburbs of Nairobi after all.

For reservations contact Nomad Travel Club, 0708 238 738, @manzilihouse




Perhaps the most happening place in Lamu and a musttry spot. This thatched-roof restaurant in the middle of the ocean has multiple seating areas and is open daily from morning to evening. The menu on board includes a range of freshly caught fish and seafood as well as local dishes, accompanied by a fully stocked and DJ playing music in the evenings. Born and raised in Lamu, proprietor Frida adds to the vibrancy of this seaborne eatery with her warm and lively personality.


Halua (or halwa) is a sticky aromatic sweet widely eaten along the coast and a must-try when visiting Lamu. Shops and kiosks will often sell halua as big packaged blocks which you then cut into bite-size pieces for serving at home. It is the perfect treat after lunch or dinner, to satisfy a sugar craving or as a sweet accompaniment to a cup of coffee.


Peponi Hotel, one of the oldest establishments in Lamu, is also known to have one of the best restaurants on the island. The menu is a mix of Swahili meals, seafood, European and Asian cuisine. The veranda seating under a big awning overlooking the bay and docked boats is a particularly romantic spot for a meal.

Mauritius: a dream destination with sustainability at heart

While on holiday in Mauritius, Linda Jonsson and Riccardo Zennaro discovered many eco-friendly initiatives and gave their suggestions for sustainable travelling on the island.

From the moment we boarded the Kenya Airways plane to Mauritius the trip felt special. The 4-hour flight southeast into the Indian Ocean was packed to the last seat with smiley couples, travellers, professionals and residents returning to their homeland. The descent happened around sunset, allowing for a brief sight of the beautiful island from above.

Mauritius is commonly known as a dream holiday destination, perfect for honeymooners and luxury beach stays. Located about 2,400km from East Africa, it boasts breath-taking landscapes, peaky mountains, crystal clear lagoons and stunning diversity. It is also home to a unique mix of cultures and languages. Most importantly, Mauritius is a destination of growing green consciousness and the hospitality

industry is walking the talk on sustainability. Visitors can lower the impact of their travel by choosing ecofriendly hotel options and activities. We stayed at Lagoon Attitude, located on the northeast side of the island, a truly sustainable property. Solar panels, eco-friendly sunscreen, recycled materials, wooden room key cards and no single-use plastic in the premises are some of the green perks provided. “Sustainability has multiple facets” explained Rubens Maureemootoo, general manager of Lagoon Attitude hotel. “It also includes ensuring gender equality, employing local staff and engaging with local artists, undergoing external auditing and offering authentic experiences such as local food sourced from the island.” Attitude Hotels promotes positive impact, a commitment to encourage

guests to learn about sustainability and to reduce their footprint while on holiday. “Mauritius aims to be a sustainable destination,” concluded Rubens, “and we expect that the demand for eco-friendly vacations will continue to grow.” Lagoon Attitude recently won the Sustainable Tourism Mauritius Gold Distinction award for its eco-commitment.

At 8am each morning, the sun would shine high through the palm trees while the clouds were swept away by the strong winds. On one occasion we visited Tamarind Falls, a pristine untouched series of waterfalls located on a lush plateau in the middle of the island. Among our group of travellers from all around the world was Anne Venkiah, CEO and co-founder of Lokal Adventure, a local travel agency that strives for green in all its operations.


“In the past, people came to Mauritius for its beaches” says Anne. “Now things have changed, and people prefer to discover more about the island, and they want to do it sustainably.” Her company works together with local personnel, small businesses and takes sustainability at heart.

In the south eastern side of the island we met boat captain Sebastien JeanCharles, also from Lokal Adventure. He takes visitors sailing on a traditional boat to three historical islands scattered in the beautiful Blue Bay lagoon. Guests are welcomed on board with gateau piment, a traditional local delicacy made from vegetables and spices.

“The seafood we eat while on the sail is locally sourced,” said JeanCharles, who is also a fisherman and resourceful handyman who embraced

conservation efforts during the COVID-19. “During the pandemic, when the number of tourists decreased, we took the opportunity to engage in new activities such as coral restoration,” he said. Jean-Charles is proud of his contribution to ensure that nature is safeguarded. After a long day out discovering the beauty of the island at land or sea, there are plenty of options to bring sustainability to the dinner table. A 20-minute drive from the capital city Port Louis is the historical Chateau de Labourdonnais. Located in the middle of fields of sugarcane, it was once the private residence of a wealthy Mauritian family. Today the chateau is open to the public. Guests can enjoy a stroll through its botanical garden and taste rum, sweets and juices produced within the premises and only from

locally grown and sourced ingredients. On the day we departed for Nairobi, the plane took off while it was still pitch-black outside and the few lights of the island quickly disappeared into the night. A feeling of having been in paradise increased while flying away from Mauritius. Together with wonderful memories we were inspired by the many sustainable initiatives undertaken by the local population. No matter what your plans are, Mauritius will not fail a traveller who wants to choose more eco-friendly options for hotels, food and activities that positively impact the protection of the island and its people.


Daniel Popote, a hero in wildlife conservation

Wildlife ranger Daniel Ole Popote of Big Life Foundation has spent 19 years protecting wildlife in Kimana Conservancy, a communityowned sanctuary in the Amboseli ecosystem of southwestern Kenya. In July 2022 he became one of just 12 global winners of the IUCN International Ranger Award.

What made you want to become a ranger?

I developed an interest as a child when I was herding my father's cattle. At the time, poaching was high and I would give Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers reports about wild animals and poachers if I spotted them at night in our area. The rangers would talk to me about the importance of nature which gave me knowledge and made me love nature.

What is the most important role of rangers in conservation?

Rangers educate our communities about the importance of the wilderness, an environment where people depend on nature and vice versa. We want people to see the benefits and need to protect nature. Secondly, we keep the community safe. There was a time when the response to reports of wildlife attacking crops, livestock or homes was very slow. Now we are making sure to get there quicker.

What should people know about rangers?

Some people do not understand our work which is not a job like others. But the work of rangers is recognised worldwide and we hope more of our compatriots can support what we do, even come to feel passionately about our work.

Share one of your most memorable experiences

A story I remember happened some years ago when we came across poachers who had killed an elephant. They were busy taking the tusks. The poachers were armed with sophisticated weapons and we were almost barehanded, but we used rangers’ tactics to intervene and catch them. At first they managed to run away but after our investigation we managed to get them. We recovered the tusks and took them to KWS.

How did you join Big Life Foundation?

Before Big Life, I was working with another organisation in Kimana Sanctuary. This organisation left but we stayed on, taking care of the sanctuary without salaries. In 2018 Big Life started working in Kimana and paying a lease to the community with support from other partners to help manage the area. I was picked to spearhead the conservation effort and now I lead a team of 37 rangers in protecting the area.

What is the average day for a ranger?

During the day we normally patrol, checking for problems around the communities, or with wildlife and the habitat. At night we work to stop poaching, to help the community prevent crop-raids and so on. Rangers don’t work nine-to-five, and there is almost no limit to the time you must be available. A ranger is on call all the time, so you must have a passion for the work in this line of duty.

What is your favourite part of being a Big Life ranger?

Big Life is deeply involved in the day-to-day life of rangers on both a professional and personal level. The organisation is caring and supportive of all aspects of the rangers’ work, in the field, their health, and so on. Now our rangers are known all over the world thanks to Big Life.

Tell us about your IUCN award and the event in Rwanda

The event was amazing and fabulous and the highlight was interacting with counterparts from organisations around the world. Conservation is being done everywhere. Being a ranger and the work of conserving nature is not taken for granted. People all over the world consider it a great job.

What are the biggest challenges facing rangers today?

There is a lot of human wildlife

conflict which is increasing because of the prolonged drought. It forces wildlife to move further than usual, looking for food in shambas (farms) or attacking livestock. There is the problem of wildfires in the dry season. They are started by unknown people to open up the bush for their unknown business. Rangers must stop the fires from spreading. Often we work without proper equipment and there is a lot of wind, but we use our tactics and in the end we manage, though it is exhausting.

How can people help?

Anyone can help through Big Life’s Monthly Giving Program. Also, people can read about us, learn what to do and see how to support us and love our work.

Your advice to anyone looking to become a ranger?

One must have a passion for wildlife and people in equal measure. It is not easy work because you must work without watching the clock and know that all time is working time. The job needs a passionate person committed towards this call.


Tackling the Tanga Yacht Race

Bill Kosar is an ocean-lover and avid recreational sailor who lives on the coast of Kenya. He recounts his adventures at the Dar es Salaam to Tanga Yacht race in 2019, the last one held before Covid.


My crew and I arrived in Tanzania on 5th December 2019, the night before the race, having sailed down from Kilifi, in Kenya. My wife Cassandra (and the namesake of our Woods Elf 26 catamaran) had driven from our home in Watamu, Kenya about 5 or 6 hours away.

The Dar Tanga Yacht Race runs from Dar es Salaam to the port city of Tanga and back, passing Zanzibar Island to port in both directions. This is the oldest (over 50 years) and longest (over 250 nautical miles) and largest (over 20 boats) offshore sailboat race in East Africa. It was CassandraVille's second attempt (and my third) in this race. There were 2 classes: racing and cruising. We chose the latter which allows for the use of engines but with deductions from the handicap based on usage.

The racing crew, who had flown in the day before, consisted of Karen-Ann from Toronto, an old sailing friend, and Rob from South Africa. KarenAnn has previously competed in the Tanga race. Rob was referred from the crew pool and we met him only the night before. Both are national Hobie Cat sailing champions in their home countries.

The first leg from Dar to Tanga began rather slowly as our engine failed to start. When I shouted over to my friend Hidde in the Unicorn, he replied that the fundi never showed up. The decision was made to sail “old school”, without a motor.

CassandraVille made it to the start line in plenty of time but we were annoyed when the Unicorn couldn’t steer and

we had to give way, which cost us. We protested later but the Unicorn’s skipper bought our crew a round at the Tanga Yacht Club bar and all was forgotten!

We had a hard time making the first mark. Meanwhile, Hidde powered across the line, as he said he would, completely ignoring the first mark. Before sunset we left the southeastern shore of Zanzibar. Along the way we encountered some fishermen holding up their catch. In other circumstances I would have come alongside to buy some fresh samaki.

That evening, Rob cooked us a supper of Campbell’s Chunky soup, pasta and the left-over tinned ham which KarenAnn, who is normally a vegetarian, ate heartily.

Karen-Ann calls Rob a spider monkey because he is hyperactive, an OCD type, always looking for something to do or fix. Rob can sleep like the dead but also awaken instantly like a zombie.

Karen-Ann, on the other hand, is spiritual. She “sees things”, and just happens to know when to divert from course to find drowning people or those needing help at sea. Karen-Ann was on watch just after midnight, while I had dozed off in the port hull cockpit. She saw an older man sitting on the engine box enjoying the sail, wearing a black and white hoodie with penguins on it. When I awoke, he was gone.

Karen asked me if the former yacht owner had died. I immediately called Lionel who had previously sailed on the boat. He was fine and on the south island of New Zealand. Nevertheless,

it was eerie and I still get shivers as I write this. Rob wanted to hear nothing of it and our Muslim friends told us we had seen a dzin, an evil spirit condemned to the deeps.

For this reason, the majority Muslim population on the East African coast avoids the ocean and beaches at night. In any event, several hours later we witnessed the most spectacular sunrise over the Indian Ocean.

We arrived outside Tanga Harbour around sunset, drifting in while fighting the outgoing tide. Tanga is difficult at night with many confusing lights and huge lanterns hanging on fishing boats, some below the water.

A Chinese dredger was coming at us so we asked the race committee to consider us finished and accept a tow in. We came in dead last!

But immediately, quadruple world circumnavigator and my friend, Roy Starkey, rowed over with a chilled bottle of bubbly to celebrate our arrival.

As things shook out later, because our motor was not used during the entire race (we had no choice) on the corrected time we came in second place.

The next day was a rest day with the annual Mount Gay rum punch party followed by silly awards. It was also Cassandra’s birthday and I had arranged for a massive chocolate cake. Unfortunately, Cassandra was not well and left early. But I saved her a sizable chunk of cake (not big enough, she later claimed) which she took home with her while we sailed to Dar the following morning.

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