The warm, golden glow over the savanna at sunset may have been one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced in my (short) life. The beautiful peaceful moment when the engine of the van stopped, leaving radiant waves of silence and a warm wind that stroked my face was a peculiar, yet wonderful, feeling.  I remember my first time in the Maasai Mara – more specifically the first sunset I witnessed there – and how the grace of the place washed over me. I remember seeing a giraffe sitting under a bush tree and looking out over the savanna. Lions were near and if they would have decided to attack the giraffe herd, the one sitting down would be an easy target. The giraffe, however, was completely calm. Everything was how it was supposed to be. It was a beautiful vision in gold, and I will never forget it.

Last week, during my Kiswahili class, I was describing to my teacher my most recent safari to Amboseli in Kenya. Amboseli National Park is known for its large herds of elephants, so of course I talked mostly about them. He said that my experience sounded beautiful and that he had never seen elephants in the wild. I was quite shocked; I could not understand how that could be true. This man, a Kenyan who had lived here in Kenya for most of his life, had never seen the animals that his country is so famous for, while I had only arrived about eight months ago, and since then have been on multiple safaris.

To see such an untouched and natural place on earth was a great contrast from the city life I am so used to. The true beauty I was privileged to see made me realize how important it is to respect nature, and how we must work hard to preserve the environment. Seeing the elephants slowly walk in a line against the orange blazing sun, and the lions lying in the high grass, made me understand that this is the beautiful essence of the world.

All of Kenya is beautiful in my opinion. From the crowded, noisy streets downtown to the open landscapes of the grasslands. From the colorful shops and fruit stands to the cascading waterfalls in lush forests. But, above all, the national parks still stand out – the way you can truly see the beautiful essence of nature. It’s magical. Some of us have the privilege to just ride in, in our safari vans, with our cameras and curious eyes. We need to remember that a large part of the Kenyan population may never see what we see on safari.

Nature does not belong to anyone – or any group of people. But, it seems that we are born with different opportunities in life. Some of us will get to view beautiful landscapes that others may never see, even within the borders of their own countries. Sometimes, even Nature is a privilege.

The Junior Senior Banquet

It was a night that was looked forward to by juniors and seniors. People were asked in romantic and sweet ways, dresses were bought and bowties too. Juniors were running around getting things ready and seniors were discussing their outfits. The last high school prom for seniors, a hectic time for juniors, a fun time for all: Junior-Senior banquet.

banquet girlsThe theme, thought up by Stanley, was Night at the Gallery featuring modern art. “I have just noticed generally in culture that art and artists are becoming more important and I felt the need to express that within my own creative space that happens to be Rosslyn Academy. My mind just came up with the idea.” When I asked if he liked how it turned out, he answered, “I think I realized that the theme doesn’t matter very much because it’s not about my vision of what it should be, it’s more about the people there and their attitude towards each other. I had a lovely time.”

Adam Samji, a 12th grader had this to say, “It was fun. I really enjoyed it.”  Andrew Kumar said, “It was really great. The gifts were great. The music, was not that great in my opinion. Individually the songs were okay, but not together.  But overall, it was good. It was a great night.” People had different opinions, but liked the evening overall.

The people on the committee were Shivani, Eny, Shubhi, Netanje, Kara and I, among other boys at banquetpeople. The venue was Emerald Garden. Kara was in charge of the decoration which turned out to be fabulous.

Silmi’s thoughts on the fashion at the event were these, “I liked how everybody kept true to the tradition of junior girls wearing short dresses and senior girls wearing long gowns. People generally kept to the more formal. I thought everyone looked beautiful, like they had actually tried to look good. So many of the guys were on point. I liked the bowties.”

One of the most enjoyed parts of the night was the photo shoot. Everyone got to pose in whatever way they liked, and with whomever they liked. The photographer, Ms. Daphne, took spectacular pictures that were both glamorous and quirky. She had people hold up a red framed piece of plastic up to their face and smash their faces and lips against it. She also had masks in her repertoire of props. Some pictures are pictures of people taking selfies, which was also very fun.

me at banquetThe food was to die for! It was a buffet and they served kitchen and cashew stew, rice, fish in three different sauces and sautéed vegetables. For dessert we had the three cakes, each with a special meaning, that had been dedicated to the senior class, and ice cream of the vanilla and chocolate flavors.

After the meal, everyone rocked the dance floor. The girls took off their heels and the guys took off their jackets. Even some teachers joined in the fun. Some of the junior guys said that the best part for them was when the Naenae played and everyone, Nene included, was “hooowaing.”

A few couples were talking in little corners, and on the comfortable couches in the lounge area, while flashes went off everywhere as selfies were taken. Each senior received a gift—a portrait of their entire class that was taken during senior trip—which they all seemed to like.

At ten thirty, the teachers started to shut the party down and the evening drew to a close. Cleaning up began and people started to trickle off. Over all, it was an amazing night that everyone enjoyed. Those that had been in charge of planning it were glad that all went well.

The DJ was amazing, the decoration was great, and everything well and everyone seemed to have norkor and izziehad a spectacular time. Hopefully next year’s Junior/Senior Banquet will trump this one and be even more fun.

-Henrika Amoafo

The Tragedy of BuoArt

“BuoArt, oh, BuoArt! How mighty are thy! Thou hast changed the fortunes of wannabes and transformed cheesy females into Overnight celebrities,” says a feverous Kenyan Journalist.

buoart11If a person were to look at a typical Facebook profile, they would notice a common pattern or thread (or lack of it).  Nearly half of my population on Facebook has something trending called BuoArt. There is a shady tint to these very beautiful and high quality pictures; shorter everything is the norm, a little more skin is fashionable. People say the way to go is, “Tank tops, short shorts, bikinis, or the occasional nude.”

This isn’t, per say, a type, but there is a huge majority. The word BuoArt describes itself as being “a team of professional photographers based in Nairobi, aimed at providing quality work and satisfying every client.” Their work includes work in making model portfolios, family portraits, and product photography.

Now what is confusing and quite interesting is that BuoArt is supposedly specialized in glamour photography, according to Ghafla Kenya (BuoArt does not state that themselves). Glamour photography is a type of photography in which the subjects, usually female, are portrayed in a romantic or sexually appealing way. The subjects may be fully clothed or semi-nude, but glamour photography stops short of just being classified as a type of pornography. That would explain the types of pictures featured on the page- I would classify them as awkward and inappropriate.

If you’re blessed enough, you might get asked to be covered, as one of BouArt’s customer revealed, but most women, girls even, pay for this. This is somewhat sad and the fact that is it popular among people under the age of eighteen makes it a bit of a tragedy.    Even though Kevin Buo has made a name for himself, you will often see certain statuses making fun of the page itself due to the fact that everyone is doing it, including Kevin himself, though I would not say he was making fun of it. Some people are not happy with the photos. Like certain protestors in Mombasa lead by Nyota Ndogo, though her argument was at times sketchy. Though I guess “any publicity is good publicity.” At the end of the day Kevin does what he loves and pays his bills while at it. The world is a game of survival and his work is helping him survive.

So yesterday while I scrolled though my newsfeed and found that someone had uploaded an album with photos taken by BuoArt, it was not surprising. Well except that her photos were truly appropriate for her age, though there was no BuoArt effigy, I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat changed parts of my perception on BuoArt.

I understand why it would be so alluring to get these pictures taken. It has become a trend; the pictures are of high quality and most people want to look flawless plus have something to show for it later on. The pressure is there for the glamour shots as well which prompts girls to “sexy” up their appeal. Not to mention those likes that the photos receive!

The problem is that after these shots, most girls are claiming to be models and go on to become public figures. I am NOT against the brand BuoArt or clean, quality photos or if even if you wish to have alluring photos of yourself…I am against the grand delusions that make these girls feel validated by these photos to the point that girls are delusional thinking they have “made it.”

It gets worse when lawyers, by profession, appear semi-nude for the world to see. A profession that is regarded in such high respect is being tainted and torched by ladies like Corazon Kwamboka, who seems is going on the path of being a socialite at this point.

With this, it conveys that without competence, a girl through her looks and sexuality can use those as her primary tool to get what she wants in life and her worth is nothing past her physicality. Thus, this is the tragedy that is slowly rampaging through our social worlds.

– Erykah Zimmer

The British YouTube Takeover: Zoella

“It’s all so unpredictable. This time last year, I would have never imagined the success I’d be having. So I can only hope that it continues to grow and people continue to enjoy watching my videos,” 24-year-old Zoella says, in her recent interview for the April issue of ‘Company Magazine.’

The Birth of ‘Zoella’

zoella-company-magazine-uk-april-2014-cover_1Guinea pigs, ombré hair, fawns, and Harry Potter are a few things that can be used to think of Zoe Sugg; better known as her YouTube persona ‘Zoella,’ is a British vlogger who focuses on talking about fashion, beauty, and lifestyle; but she also focuses on other types of videos that include challenges, or baking, and often she’ll work in collaboration with other YouTubers such as Tanya Burr (Tanyaburr), Marcus Butler (MarcusButlerTV), Grace Helbig (Itsgrace/ Dailygrace), or Tyler Oakley (Tyleroakley). At the start of 2013, her channel had 500,000 subscribers—and towards the end, she had gained around three million more subscribers; earlier in March she hit four million subscribers. She was also the 91st most subscribed YouTuber of 2013, and was in the list among ‘YouTuber legends’ like Ryan Higa (nigahiga) and Jenna Marbles (Jennamarbles).

Although Zoe gained so much popularity, it took her a few years to start up. On an evening in 2009, she first created a beauty blog called ‘Zoella.’ She had a small following of people, and she enjoyed being able to write about what she was up to. Later in 2009, on December 17th to be exact, she put up her first video—it was titled “60 Things In My Bedroom,” and something she still cringes thinking about today. Even though she didn’t have a huge fan base, she kept on going by creating ‘haul videos’ (where she goes on shopping sprees and collectively presents what she purchased), ‘monthly favourites’ (she talks about her most loved items of the past month), and collaborations with up-coming YouTubers, who often weren’t too popular either. As she realized that she was gaining attention from so many people, her schedule became more consistent and she dedicated more time to YouTube; she’ll now post every Sunday, like her brother Joe Sugg (Thatcherjoe), and their followers call it #SuggSunday.

The New Celebrity

Zoe is part of a movement of being a ‘new celebrity.’ Using YouTube as a platform, she is able to rise up in stardom—but not by using any extraordinary acting or singing talents- it’s just her to talking to a camera every few days! This makes the relationship of the subscribers and the YouTubers extremely intimate, and authentic, as opposed to that of a ‘conventional’ celebrity.

Through her channel, she’s also able to communicate real life issues such as body image, rocky relationships and her own personal battle with suffering through anxiety and panic attacks. On dealing with her unease, she stated “I could continue this way, or I could start saying ‘yes’ to more things and see where they take me. The only way you can step out that horrible, little box of ‘badness’ is to push yourself… You can do it, just push yourself and just say ‘yes’

Most Popular/ Memorable Videos

As Zoe is a role model, she gets a lot of requests from her fans through different social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to do certain videos. Her biggest demand is usually some form of beauty videos—hair, makeup, skin routines and such.

Currently, her most viewed video, with 4,616,362 views, is the “How To: My Quick and Easy Hairstyles.” Zoe is known for her long, gorgeous, ombré locks. On June 5th of last year, she posted a ten minute video explaining simple steps on how to achieve her most notable hairstyles, including her high ponytail and fishtail braid—since then, she’s partnered up with ‘All Things Hair UK’ where every few weeks she’ll put up a new hair-related video.

Her second most viewed video, with 3,706,579 views, is a makeup tutorial with her everyday makeup routine—she does state that she feels extremely self conscious, and this is the first time the outside YouTube community has ever witnessed Zoe on screen without any makeup on. In the video she starts with “So here I am, facially naked, on the internet—something that quite honestly terrifies me. Although I know not everybody has perfect skin, I’m quite insecure about mine.” This went so viral, that in fact the eye shadow pallet she uses in her tutorial, Estee Lauder’s Raisins, heavily went up in sales over the next month, primarily due to the fact that so many people strive to be like her.

The most popular collaboration on her channel is the “My Brother Does my Makeup,” where her younger sibling Joe attempts to apply different types of makeup onto Zoe. This was also the video that prompted many viewers to ask for Joe to create a YouTube channel—which he eventually did: it’s called ‘ThatcherJoe.” Evidently, Zoe’s audience enjoyed seeing the siblings together trying to create some content. Many viewers also expressed their attraction towards him, as seen in the comments of the video.

The Future of Zoella

Zoe seems to be rising higher and higher into YouTube stardom, and her career doesn’t appear to be dulling down anytime soon. With all her given opportunities, she was able to meet and interview One Direction in August 2013, go to Dubai towards the end of December, be the cover of a magazine she’d been reading for the past four years, and win a BBC Teen Award for Best British Vlogger are among the few.

Going from blogger to vlogger, she was asked what her secret to success was, and she simply stated, “I would love to say that there is a specific thing someone could do. But I think the main thing that really makes it work is that, if you’re having fun, being yourself and filming something that you would watch yourself, it becomes contagious for other people to watch it too.”

Zoe’s links:

  1. Blog:
  2. Twitter:
  3. YouTube Channel:

Videos mentioned:

  1. How to: My Quick and Easy Hairstyles:
  1. Just Say Yes:

  1. My Everyday Makeup Routine:
  2. My Brother Does My Make-up

  1. 60 Things In My Room

The Magic of Annie Leibovitz

Photography is an extraordinary thing. It can capture a mood, a moment or share a story. However, only a few photographers have the ability to deem their work as magical—and Annie Leibovitz is one of them.

Annie-Leibovitz-heroShe was born on October 2nd, 1949 in Connecticut and was one of six children. She had to move from home to home, and in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2008 she said “We had no money so they threw us in the backseat of the car and we drove from wherever my father was stationed to the next place.” In 1967, she enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute where she was originally going to study painting. However, she took photography classes in the evening and developed a love for it.

In 1970, she applied for a job with Rolling Stone magazine, and it took her only two years to rise to the position of chief photographer. With this magazine, her trademark technique of using bold colours and surprising poses was developed.  One of her most famous pictures captures John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono from a shoot just hours before his death on December 8th, 1980.  In 1983, she started working at Vanity Fair magazine. Because it was an entertainment magazine, she captured a various array of people that ranged from presidents to famous faces of Hollywood.

She redefined ‘celebrity portrait.’ Instead of just getting a model to look at the camera with a Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.23.27 PMsimple backdrop, she wanted to be creative—and thus documented moments in pop-culture history with a style that represented them. Slowly, she expanded with her imagination and started hiring people to help get her vision. She wanted to show the world a side of a certain person that hadn’t been scene before, and that’s what makes her work iconic.

Since 2007, Leibovitz has been collaborating with Disney by releasing advertisements of celebrities in Disney fairy tale scene to promote Disney Parks’ “Year Of A Million Dreams.” What’s astonishing about these pieces is the fact that she can take a childhood story and bring it to life. The campaign has faces like Taylor Swift as Rapunzel, Beyoncé as Alice, Scarlett Johansson as Cinderella, and David Beckham as Prince Phillip from ‘Sleeping Beauty.’

At an interview for Co.Create last year, Leibovitz was questioned about her creative process. Her answer? Hard work. It’s not simple editing; it’s looking at Disney’s version of the story, and any other accounts, such as the darkness of the Grimm’s Fairytale version. Her phenomenal editing takes her pictures from a pretty face in a gorgeous dress with nothing in the back, to a fantasy scenario that encompasses the magic, and majesty that fairytales hold.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 11.23.49 PMLeibovitz’s newest piece is for the 20th annual Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair, capturing a group of distinguished actors that range from familiar faces such as George Clooney and Julia Roberts, to new ones like Lupita Nyong’o.

From her days of not having much money to her life now, Leibovitz has not been lucky—rather, it’s hard work, endurance and perseverance that have brought her to this level.

“In this day and age of things moving so, so fast, we still long for things to stop, and we as a society love the still image. Every time there is some terrible or great moment, we remember the stills.” –Leibovitz, 2013.

– Silmi Jariwalla