Lupita Nyong’o’s Sh10,000 dinner was worth every coin. The delicacies — from the starters, to the main course and dessert— were on point.
The bread was farm fresh from the bakery, the soup was rich and tasty, the wines were five-star class, the meats were succulent ...you get the drift?
And as the guests, ladies dressed in elegant evening gowns, men in sharp tuxedos; streamed in for the dinner at the Villa Rosa Kempinski’s ballroom, Lupita was in the kitchen making sure everything was just right.
When Caroline Mutuko, the MC announced that Lupita was in the kitchen, the guests, were clearly surprised. But photographic evidence shows her, all dressed up, in the kitchen inspecting the salad with executive chef Ciaran John Gantly.
She was dressed in a red and white print flowing dress, with pineapple puff hairdo giving her that African touch. Indeed, the evening’s theme was African, from the decor to the performances, all provided by Ariafrica.
The evening started after 6pm, with the guests welcomed by drummers clad in African regalia.
After the security check, they were ushered in for a cocktail at the lobby, with Martini Rosso and Bianco cocktails and soft drinks served in generous measure.
Lupita’s parents, Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o and wife Dorothy arrived early, as were their daughters, Zawadi, Fiona and Wam.
The who is who list included former PM Raila Odinga and former VP Kalonzo Musyoka.
There were 27 tables each worth Sh100,000. Individuals were coughing out Sh10, 000, corporates Sh100, 000.
And as it turned out, corporates took up most of the tickets, and thus there were not many familiar faces.
But the evening unfolded like clockwork; not sensational or hype, but well thought-out.
And the service was something else. The menu a table d’hôte, served by waitresses only. Dressed in black pants and white blouses and black headgear, taking position at each table.
Then, with a sign from a supervisor, they would in one accord serve a course, or clear the table for the next course.
Thankfully, after a long day in the office, protocol and speeches were minimal.
The theme of the night was conservation, and the chief guest was the Environment, Water, and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu.
She said poaching in Kenya has gone down 40 per cent, with some conservancies reporting zero incidences.
Lupita has been appointed WildAid Global Elephant Ambassador, joining footballer David Beckham and Yao Ming, the retired Chinese basketball player.
As we exclusively reported last weekend, the arrival of Lupita in the country before the publicised date, in her brief and succinct speech, she admitted to have been here. She took the weekend to quietly visit the Amboseli, the home of elephants, and also the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
The latter is based in the Nairobi National Park and it rescues and rehabilitates orphaned baby elephants and rhinos.
It is the baby elephants that inspired Lupita’s emotional speech on Thursday.
“I am taking it personal, what is happening with elephants right now...”
And as the actress, the storyteller who has won gong after gong, Lupita personalised the stories of three elephants she met at Sheldrick.
Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter
Oleseki a 20-month-old elephant; a greedy bully. Boromoko, also 20 month-old, the friendliest of the lot, and Chesunja, one and a half month-old, recently rescued from a poacher’s snare.
Lupita said Chesunja was traumatised, and does not trust human beings who tried to hurt her.
“All these elephants have lost their parents through poaching,” sigh, “it is not fair. Few people have these animals in their backyard. We are so fortunate and it is our responsibility to conserve them for generations to come.”
The highlight of the night was when comedian Eric Omondi hit the stage.
The audience roared from his jokes, including one about new hairstyles in town, “Lupita mtoto, or Lupita baba,” aping the talented actress.
After the session of jokes, the comedian then invited Lupita to the dance floor for a dance as Tony Nyandundo’s ohangla played.
“She can shake a leg,” someone muttered.
“How has it been being Lupita’s parents?” we posed.
Nyong’o said playfully: “Her mother should answer that.”
Dorothy responded with a chuckle: “But we are both her parents.
Anyway, the blood relationship is permanent, she is our little daughter.”
But they both acknowledge she was destined for great things, as she was a passionate actor starting in her kindergarten days at Waridi in Westlands.
Did they see all the fame, the Oscar coming?
Dorothy: “Yes. The Oscar was not a surprise; the surprise was how fast it came after Lupita’s graduation.”
And the treat of the night?
A selfie with the multifaceted star! Lupita moved from table to table taking pictures with everybody. Up-close, her radiant ebony skin glowed, her generous smile infectious, eyes holding a confident gaze, head nodding as she thanked the people for showing up. It was indeed a night to remember.