Mbira : The Fun and Interactive Game Inspired by Zimbabwe

On the 21st of May 2020 Zimbabwe celebrated the beginning of their culture week. Google Doodle honoured this day with an interactive game of Zimbabwe's 1000 year old musical instrument called the Mbira. The creation of the Google Doodle was a collaboration of different people in different fields, from writers to musicians, to visual artists and game developers.



Every game has a story and the Mbira Google Doodle is no exception.
This interactive experience follows the story of a little girl from the day she first fell in love with the Mbira to when she grows up and becomes a musician that plays the Mbira in a band. I loved watching how her mother was supportive throughout her creative journey.


The interactive experience challenged the player to play 4 traditional and modern songs in 4 levels. The songs are titled Nhemamusasa, Bangiza, Taireva and Chemutengure.

They played by simply hovering over a key on the Mbira at just the right time, following instructions that were laid out at the very beginning of the game. What I found special about this particular google doodle is that the Google team actually took a trip to Zimbabwe and worked closely with the Shona people so as to capture the authentic culture of the people in the game.




In this case, the levels and chapters of the interactive experience are synonymous. This is unlike in normal games where levels are strict and you have to finish one level to proceed to another; I realized that did not apply here. On the final page of the game, you can click on replay and choose a chapter you would like to play again or create your own mbira songs in free play. The game's 4 levels went as follows:


Level 1: It starts with the little girl walking with her Mum who is carrying a baby on her back. When the little girl hears an old Man play the Mbira, she stops right on her tracks forcing her mother to do the same. She then pushes the mother towards the old man's direction. The old Man notices her fascination with the instrument, stops playing and let's her touch it for her very first time. After that we continue listening to some beautiful Zimbabwean music as we are instructed on how to play the first song Nhemamusasa.


Level 2: Here we see a man making a tiny mbira. What's even more special about this particular moment is that the little girl has also participated in making it. We are shown the little girl picking bottle tops and handing them to the man for him to fix them on the Mbira. Once it is ready, he hands it over to the little girl and joy is written all over her face and we later see her hugging it dearly. After this emotional moment the player is taught how to play the song Bangiza.


Level 3: Takes us to the girl - now older - playing the Mbira with her peers who are dancing and playing other instruments. Her mother is still by her side as she is the one who brings her to this space. Before we proceed with the game play, we are taught about how the large calabash gourds used to make Mbiras help amplify the sound of the music. Playing the song Taivera is the next challenge in the game.


Level 4: The young girl is now an adult and plays in a band with a large crowd watching. We are taught that the Mbira can be featured with electric bands in Zimbabwe alongside drums and guitars. Things go full circle when she hands down the instrument to a young boy just the way it was handed down to her years ago. 

This highlights how the Shona people have managed to preserve the Mbira  for 1000 years through handing it down to the next generations. We then play the song Chemutengure and just like the journey of the young girl our journey as players also goes full circle.



It is a sweet story and an amazing interactive experience that introduces us to the special instrument of the Shona people. I'd like to urge you to try it out yourself here.The music from the mbira is soothing and with the current state of the World right now, the Mbira Google Doodle could not have come at a better time. 

Here are some wise words to follow as we stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. 
"Time is a healer, pain is a teacher, music is a stress reliever, be a believer" - Sauti Sol. And on that note I will leave you with these soothing sounds of the Mbira from Zimbabwe. Enjoy!





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My Little Miracle


My little Miracle.  I had been distressed and in constant search before I found her. Long hours spent on YouTube trying to figure things out left me tired and with a slight headache. Then I  received a message, a sign I believe was from my angels.

The sign I saw was a recurring number, only I do not remember which number specifically. This number's meaning reminded me to ask for what I needed, to let go, and to allow the help I needed into my life. So I did and in letting go I let her, my little Miracle, into my life easily.

I also opened up a flood gate of uplifting messages from my loved ones too - something we all need when we've been pushing ourselves too hard.

Anyway, enough with the suspense already, right? Thanks to Mavis Beacon, I am touch typing on her right now. These words are manifesting in my little Miracle with the ease with which she manifested into my life. She is a lovely 17inch MacBook Pro that has aged with such amazing grace under the care of her previous loving Guardian.



Ng'endo holding up my little Miracle.


Her previous Guardian is my Mentor and a beautiful soul called Ng'endo.  I wrote a little about her here. She has been my human Guardian Angel ever since I met her, guiding me through so many important stages in my life. 

So here's what happened. I had sent her a funny cat video that reminded me of her cat Chairman. The kitten was biting a laptop screen and somehow the conversation led to me casually telling her about my poor laptop.

My previous laptop crashed right after I got a new job as an Online Art Instructor, an opportunity which I also have Ng'endo to thank for recommending me. Before letting go as my angels suggested, I had taken to obsessively researching online to find a laptop with great specs so that when I go to do my Masters in Animation, it will still perform well under the weight of the heavy animation software I'd be using.

I had everything planned out: I would send money to my sister who is scheduled to come back soon from her studies in China. She would buy me a cost effective laptop on her way back. I would send her the specifications of the kind of laptop I needed and she would be my go between with the Chinese laptop dealers. It was perfect.

It is interesting how things unfold, because her first contact whom she had dealt with for long and had built trust with did not have the kind of laptop I needed. Then she met an English-speaking laptop dealer and I could tell from her texts that she was excited; she had a good feeling about him helping us. My spirits naturally rose as well and my hope was renewed. Fast forward to a few days later, he stopped responding to my sisters' texts so again we went back to ground zero.

This is where the overwhelm escalated. And in the nick of time, my angels came to my rescue with the uplifting message I mentioned before. So I let go.

After casually mentioning my predicament to Ng'endo, she texted me a few days later offering to sell me her old MacBook Pro. For how much you ask? 7 Kenyan thousand shillings only. Where on this earth can you get that kind of an offer on a MacBook? To add onto that, she also mentioned that I could return it if it had any issues in 3 months and get my money back. Talk about a warranty.

So we made a deal and the transaction happened. My little Miracle which had helped her make some of her great films was still in good shape. 

Now to take you back to my belief in angels and how they are always communicating with me through various ways, another interesting thing happened when I went to collect my little Miracle. When we were catching up, maintaining social distance of course,  Ng'endo mentioned she had been watching this series and had seen someone that looked familiar.


Sasha Compere from Miracle Workers


After watching it a couple of times, her boyfriend told her the TV character looked like me but she had a slightly different perception. Usually people tell you that they saw someone who looked like you. Never had I met someone before Ng'endo who told me they saw someone who looked like they could be related to me.

To make things even more interesting, the series she was watching is called Miracle Workers. I mean, what are the odds? And when she sent me the picture of the character she was talking about, I saw my Aunty Kamene at first glance. 


My Aunty Kamene and I enjoying a selfie moment.


I was so excited and went round the house asking my Mum and Sister who they thought this character looked like. They both agreed that she looked like my Aunty Kamene who I have been told a couple of times I resemble.

So I sent a picture of my aunty and I alongside this character's picture to Ng'endo just to let her know that she was right in thinking that way. And when I narrated this story to my friend, she told me she had recently watched a TED talk about how to become a Miracle Worker.




See? That is why I have a strong belief in angels and miracles. I am always receiving these amazing manifestations and experiences that feel guided. I wanted to share this with you because I made a vow to share more positive and uplifting stories with as many people as I can. We always need inspiring stories but I feel like we need them even more nowadays with Rona's menacing pandemic. 

So that was my little Miracle. Thanks for reading all through. Do you have a positive story about something amazing that happened to you? Please feel free to share below in the comment section. Let's keep each other's spirits high.
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My Sketches



The most special thing about this lockdown period for me is the self reflection I have been doing. Today, I remembered the reason why I started writing here 5 years ago was to share my Creative process with anyone who was curious to know. It's interesting how over those years I seem to have forgotten about that little reason.

It just dawned on me that it has been ages since I shared my artwork as a blog post. I have it all over my social media and I have linked those posts to my Archives page - but again I feel like it's time I shared some of them here like I did on my very first post.

So here goes ☺ these are my artwork from quick sketches to illustrations to animations and to pointillism pieces. Have a look and enjoy. Keep staying safe, be kind to yourself and remember that everything that we go through good or bad is just passing by. This too shall pass ❤




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I just finished 2 things today ☺ this piece and reading Big Magic: Creative living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. To tell you the truth I did not feel like leaving the book after I started reading it πŸ€—. It's that good. Here are some of her wise words from the book."I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life form. They are separate from us, but capable of interacting with us albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they must certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human's efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual."
A post shared by Wendi Art IT (@wendiartit) on 











Can you guess who the last 3 artists are.?Come on, take a guess ☺.
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15 Uplifting Animations Guaranteed to Leave You Feeling Good


I am sharing this in a bid to send some positivity into the world and I invite you to do the same in your own small way. I have arranged the trailers starting with those of the animations made on the African continent. I am wishing you and your loved ones good health and peace of mind as we all stay home, stay safe, and keep our spirits high. Happy watching and rewatching!

1. Liyana


2. The Snail and the Whale


3. Home



4. The Emperors New Groove



5. Bolt

6. Despicable Me 1,2,3



7. Sing



8. Coco



9. Moana



10. Wonder Park



11. Smallfoot



12. Rio 1,2



13. The Crood 1,2



14. How to Train Your Dragon 1,2,3



15. Angry birds


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8 Interesting Ways to Remind Yourself That Every Experience Counts.


Source: Freepik

How did yours start? I mean the journey to where you are in your life at this moment. It all makes sense when you look backward.

For me, it all started with my love for cartoons,

which led to my love for drawing said cartoons. This, in turn, led me to take art classes in high school after which I took a detour and studied Business IT in University. All the while doing commissioned portraits for my classmates on the side.

The following is an account of my own experiences and how they have turned out well, in spite of me feeling like I had taken a wrong turn a couple of times such as in University. I know many of you have felt like this one time or another.

1.) Look back and identify that thing you've loved doing since childhood then pay attention to how life is nudging you to get back.

My detour introduced me to the world of Technology and Business which would then lead me back to the genesis, which was my love for cartoons.

How? well, I always had a wanting attitude towards computers and had avoided taking computer classes in favor of my art in High School.

I came to realize that it was because we were mostly taught theoretically and did not get to interact with the computers as much. Why? well, we had just one computer lab in a boarding school with close to 1000 students.

Fortunately, I got to enroll for IT essentials and Cisco Certified Network Associate classes right after finishing High School. The courses had lots of fun visual aids and were hands-on so I fell in love with computers as a result.


Source: Giphy

Once I got over my funk with Technology, I went on to graduate with a degree in Information Systems Technology from USIU-Africa.

My Tech background came in handy when I finally got back on track by enrolling for a certificate course in 3D Animation at Shang Tao Media Art College. I later met a lady that would end up changing my life in ways unimagined.

2.) Ask yourself who is doing the thing you love and succeeding at it.

Her name is Ng'endo Mukii and she is an Independent Filmmaker and Animator. I met her at a speed mentoring session called Match Mentor organized by The Arena Kenya.

When I first saw her that day, she was on the panel dressed in a lovely colorful African print jumpsuit. I loved her style, confidence, and I was impressed by what she had accomplished so far.

 After the panel discussion, a timer was set for us to go for our rounds of speed mentorship. It was like an intricate dance: one step forward, two steps back, turn to your left then go towards your right. This is the way we moved around in groups of 4-7 from one mentor to the next.

Maintaining a keen eye on her table, I continued with my dance around at the mentors stationed close to her. This continued until I eventually got the chance to go to her table. Our session felt super brief, but I remember leaving feeling so inspired, it had been worth the complicated dance.

3.) How can you be of help to them while in their presence as a mentee?

I got her contacts and right before I left, I asked her if by any chance she had an internship position in her company. She replied that she did not have any at the moment but I should email her and remind her I was the lady with a head wrap so that she could remember me.

I did as requested knowing too well that if I did not, she might not have remembered who I was considering she had met dozens of new people on that day. She was friendly in our conversations online and I kept tabs with her thereafter for close to a year. She would later contact me while I was

doing the internship I wrote about here in India. 


 Source: Clipart

4.) Count your blessings and remember that everything is always working out for your good.

Funny thing is she was also in India at the time of contacting me, only in a different state. What are the odds?

The universe is truly interesting and I am in complete awe at how things unfold in life. I told her  I'd be delighted to intern for her when I got back home.

This is how I was blessed with an opportunity to work closely with Ng'endo who is not only an amazing human but also a multiple award-winning Animator. I got to see how she goes about her daily activities and it was amazing how easy she made all of it seem.

5.) Cultivate a strong relationship with your mentor and be as helpful as you can even after your period of working together.

My internship with her was such a great experience. She would later trust me with her extra work which I did remotely after the internship. And since we had built a strong relationship, she knew about things I was interested in and would send me links and email forwards on the same.

6.) Heed to their advice and be open to trying out the new things they recommend. After all, you have to be willing to change the way you do things in order to be like the people you admire.


In one of our many conversations, I had mentioned my interest in games. One day she sent me an email about a workshop happening at the Goethe Institute on gamifying African cities. I was intrigued by the whole concept and so I applied and got in.

I had attended one-week workshops before so I was eager to absorb the knowledge and simply move on with my life. This particular workshop was different; it introduced us to a project called Enter Africa.

So when we were told about the magnitude of the project that is, it's running in 14 other African countries concurrently and the requirement to commit for the next two years, it all came as a surprise to me.

It was during this workshop and subsequent meet-ups while working on the project, that I started

getting acquainted with concepts such as gamification.



All the same, it ended up being a pleasant experience. I was sent to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a one-week workshop and then to Munich, Germany to be a panelist for my very first time representing Enter Africa Nairobi.

7.) Request for help from your mentor when called to do something they have done numerous times.

I remember how ecstatic I was when I read the email that I had been chosen to represent the Enter Africa network as a panelist in Germany. Once all the excitement had died down and some normalcy kicked in, I realized that I would need some help preparing for the panel discussion.

So I called Ng'endo to share the good news with her as well as to ask her what she would advise me to do in preparation. I did as I was told and I remember being super calm and confident on D-day. Her advice had been of great help.


8.) Be open to change the trajectory of your life when you stumble upon new things that align with your interest and that compliment your passion.

We finished our 2 years as members of the Enter Africa project last year. I even compiled a list of gratitude messages from the team members below.



During my stay in Germany, which I was fortunate enough to extend to one month, I got to meet a Kenyan doing his PhD there. I first met him at the Munich Media Days Conference where I was speaking and later on we set a meet up with him, my father and myself a couple of weeks later.

Coincidentally, he had already met my father a year before. When I informed him of what my father does for a living in Germany, he asked me for his name. And when I mentioned "Mutisya", he retrieved my father's contacts from his phone like magic.

Thanks to this meeting, I am currently preparing to pursue a Master's degree in Game Development and Animation for Film. My first love Animation has found herself a new partner and I'm totally fine with that.

 I am currently studying German on Duolingo

and looking forward to enrolling for German classes later this year. All the while reminding myself that whichever way it goes, all is well. After all, at the end of the day, I will have a new language added to my arsenal. And every experience counts. Now it's your turn to look back at your own life and remind yourself how every experience in your journey counts.

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How to Use Gamification to Impact Special Needs Lives.


Alistair was born without his sense of hearing. Doctors diagnosed him deaf but there was something else. He was different from the other hearing-impaired children; hyperactive and unable to grasp sign language. His caregiver Angela, felt like she had failed him.

One day, his teacher planned a trip to the mall and Angela panicked, but the teacher was sure her method would work. So 3 days before the trip, she realized that in order to penetrate Alistair's "defences", she needed to give him information. Information on what was going to happen to him.

They showed him images of the things he would experience on that day: an image of getting into the car, driving to the mall, arriving at the mall, browsing through the stores, getting back to the car, driving back to school and then going back home. 

Alistair was unusually calm on the day they went to the mall...Click this link to read the rest of this piece
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How to Build Enlightened Wealth As A Creative Entrepreneur

"You arrived here on planet Earth encoded with divine DNA -  a specific set of talents, gifts, opportunities, connections, and sensitivities.


Image: Freepik

We believe you have a destiny to fulfill. There is music in you, a song you are destined to sing, or instrument you are destined to play in the symphony of life.

Some people discover their destiny quickly, some people take decades to do so, and others never even look for it. When you tap into this pure vein of gold you become the person you were born to be." - Mark and Robert

Now join me in the journey of discovering our divine life path through a book whose entire theme is the higher power's approach to business success.



Higher power, God, the Creator, Source, we have different names for the Supreme Being that created us and cares for our well being.

Higher power should be the center of everything we do in business. We should think of how Higher power would treat our customers, how they would create our products and how they would give back to society.

The following are 5 business lessons that, as a Creative Entrepreneur, resonated with me. These lessons are from the enlightening book Cracking the Millionaire Code by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G Allen.

1. Lesson One: Giving 

According to the book, we should think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege because other than amplifying the fact that we have enough to spare, giving lubricates the process of wealth building. 

Giving to me comes in many forms. One is creating a business solution that serves many people -another is finding ways to make people's lives a little better through monetary or in-kind donations.  This explains why most successful businesses have vibrant CSR programs.

It is a trend among the ultra-rich to have foundations where the surplus of what they have earned goes to charities in order to help other people. Oprah once said "when more is given, more is required" and she lives by example.

2. Lesson Two: Finding Your Purpose

The destiny code is your purpose in life. The music you were meant to sing in the symphony of the universe.


It took Oprah Winfrey's demotion from a lofty news anchor position - which she did not like anyway - to a stagnating talk show no one watched at that time, for her to discover her destiny.

At first, when she started the talk show, she was made to interview a couple with their child. The cheating husband confessed in front of the national TV that his girlfriend was pregnant and Oprah saw the humiliation in his wife's face. And that was when she decided that enough was enough.

She decided that she would not let TV use her but rather she would use TV to impact people's lives positively. She continues to do so using new media like YouTube even after a successful 25 years as a TV talk show host.

It is important to know that at times your destiny is shown to you in disguise. In Oprah's case, hers was what her boss thought was a demotion. Yours could be a lay off that led you to follow your passion of cooking that you were putting off for the future which never seemed to come.

The book also reminds us that we need a team and that there are people who are destined to be in our team. They will help us fulfill our destiny and we will help them fulfill theirs.

3. Lesson three: Finding Your Winners Circle

The authors introduce an interesting term in the book. The ANGELS code refers to the team of people working with you on your business. We need a strong team and they need us. It is good to have a team of people who are positive, forward-thinking and who have a track record for success.

One action step would be to come up with a list of people and start contacting them on whether they would be interested in collaborating on your joint business idea.

ANGELS stands for

Access to assets - The access to capital and financial assets your team members have.
Network capital - The people that your team members know.
Genius capital - The talents, gifts, and creativity of your team members.
Experience capital - The educational background as well as the street smarts of these members.
Light capital - Do they have a giving spirit and a strong belief in a higher power?
Serendestiny capital - What are their current opportunities and what does the future hold for them?

Use these to determine the right people to put in your dream team.

4. Lesson Four: Finding Multiple Revenue Streams

As a freelance artist and creative entrepreneur, I learned that there are multiple ways of earning from a single product.
These multiple ways can be summarised by the acronym PRISM

PRISM stands for 

Primary products
Related products
Information
Services &
Media

Say for instance your Primary product is a car; you could get another revenue stream from selling Related products such as spare parts of the car.

In order to ensure that your clients are satisfied with your product, you would want to share Information with them in the form of user training videos that show them how to use their cars in the best way possible.

You could also add to your revenue stream by creating Services that make the product easier to use. In this case, that could be car repairs and insurance.

Finally, through different Media, you can sell experiences through entertaining car events such as races and auto shows.

 5. Lesson Five: Treating Your Customers Like STARS

The star code is discovering and serving a special group of customers and treating them like the stars they are. According to this book, most of the startups that succeed are those whose owners focussed on this code.

A good example of treating customers like STARS would be a story I heard from an audiobook I listened to a while ago about someone, let's call him Sam.

Sam had gone to a bar to watch a baseball match. He found the bar TV already tuned to another sports channel.

 Since he was the only one at the bar at that time, he requested the waiter to change the channel to the one that was airing his favorite baseball match.

The waiter did and then proceeded to serve him his burger and drinks. Later on, as the bar started filling up, the TV was automatically tuned to the channel he had found on.

 So when the waiter noticed, he went to Sam and told him that it was not fair because he was the first one there and should be able to continue watching his game.

Not wanting to stir up the crowd that had gathered at the bar, Sam told the waiter that it was fine. He was willing to move to another room that had no one in it to continue watching the match.

The waiter went on and changed the channel to the baseball match anyway. He also took the remote, removed the batteries from the remote, and gave them to Sam.

After hearing this story, I could not help but imagine the reaction from the other customers - and smile at how special Sam must have felt.

It is said that Sam did not enjoy the burger from the bar, but he left that place with a lasting impression and a great story to tell.

Conclusion 

All these lessons are strongly dependent on finding one's divine life path and I believe everything else gets better with time after that.

At the moment you are able to start giving even if it is in the form of volunteering your skills and talents.

You are also able to find a team of passionate friends to work with on a primary product as well as those that are linked to it. Remember PRISM?

And once you start earning loads from these multiple revenue streams, you are able to give back monetarily or by building platforms that share tips on how you made it work for you.

You can also start treating your customers like the stars they actually are.  I believe the business will keep coming back to you because of how special you make them feel.

It's a whole cycle people!

So join me this new decade in implementing these lessons into our Creative endeavors. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let's crack that Millionaire code.

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