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Interview with Benson Arudo, keepin' the yoyo scene real on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya

Benson first attracted the attention of the Yoyologist Crew members after we saw some of his yoyo videos on Youtube. What impressed us most was how smooth his playing was, it all seemed so effortless. We got in touch and being the really awesome guy that he is, it wasn't long before we invited Benson to join the Yoyologist Crew.

Benson is our first crew member not based in South Africa, and with his smooth playing ability, great attitude and willingness to help, he is the very best person to represent the east African yoyo scene.

And so, without any further ado, we present to you, the one, the only, the yoyo legend from Nairobi... Benson Peter Arudo!!

benson pacman yoyo trick nairobi      ben playing yoyo
Q: Benson, please tell us, how did someone in Nairobi, Kenya, get involved in the modern yoyo scene?

"I started playing in 2010, February. I had gone upcountry to visit some family and during my stay there, courtesy of one of my cousins, I came across a cheap, responsive promotional yoyo.

"For $0.50, I figured I got a great light-up yoyo to pass time with and started doing some very simple tricks, like Forward Pass. When I got back to Nairobi I went online and looked up some more yoyo tricks and found that there was SOOO much more to yo-yoing than I ever imagined. From the styles to the craftsmanship that goes into making the yoyos. I became captivated and fascinated by it all, and the rest is history!"

Q: Why yo-yoing, why not keep yourself busy with some other hobby?

"Yoyoing is a unique hobby, something I can carry around in my pocket, play anywhere and be creative anytime.

"Just like the way break-dancers amaze audiences with their body-contortion skills, I find it beautiful that such a simple object can weave through and hop about a labyrinth of strings without getting tangled up. The amount of effort and skill it takes to achieve such a "dance" is incredible."

Q: Who inspires you, and why?

"That’s a tough one, so many people inspire me. Players include Ricardo Fraolini, Augie Fash, Anthony Rojas, Jason Lee, John Ando, Jensen Kimmit and Tomonari Ishiguro (aka BLACK). Their styles of play and innovative tricks have made me admire the endless possibilities one can come up with a piece of string and a small round spinning object. I enjoy watching anyone who has a unique flow and style of play."

benson eiffel tower yoyo trick       benson plays yoyo in nairobi kenya

Q: Since you've been playing, have you had any low-points, and are there any highlights that stick out?

"The only low point I can think of was when I was diagnosed with meningoma and was too sick to play.

"As for highlights, that would be the day I performed on stage for the first time at an event called Consofeste. I was a nervous wreck before I got on. My hands were so shaky I could hardly land a Trapeze! My friends cheered me on through the whole performance though, eventually I got the better of my nerves and the crowd loved it.

"It was a day I wouldn’t mind reliving again and an opportunity I am forever grateful for."

Q: What challenges do you face with your yo-yo playing?

"Finding people to play with in the same physical location is a big challenge. YouTube videos and online forums have been a great source of help through my learning experience, but having another player around so we can help each other figure out moves and tricks as we play would be pretty cool too. It boosts one's morale knowing you have a training/practicing partner.

"Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated and I feel like I'm on my own little yoyo island in Kenya, but being part of the Yoyologist Crew is fantastic - they are such great people, we chat regularly and keep each other motivated which helps such a lot, they're almost like family! Of course, I'm hoping my latest venture, Eish!Yo, will soon establish a community of players in Nairobi, Kenya and hopefully some other east African countries too."

Q: What challenges do you face as you promote yo-yoing in Kenya?

"Well, there is this famous line, "Is that a yoyo? Aren’t you too old to be playing with a toy?"

"People here still maintain the traditional image that yoyos are for children. These people are ill-informed and completely unaware of the modern yo-yo world that is out there.

"A thing I love about the community of yoyoers is that it's not age specific and does not discriminate against anybody. Comprised of people from the age of 8 to 70+, all have been captivated by an aspect of the yoyo, be it the tricks, the strings, the bearings or the yoyos themselves...

"It amazes me to see how people across the globe of all ages, cultures and interests can be united by something so simple. "

benson eli hops nairobi       benson plays yoyo in nairobi, kenya

Q: Tell us a bit about your latest venture, Eish!Yo, and why you feel the need to promote yo-yoing in Kenya and the rest of the African continent?

"I hope Eish!Yo will be an eye-opener to the modern yo-yoing world here in Kenya. Apart from those who have given me priceless support in setting up Eish!Yo, I hope it breeds new players and yoyo enthusiasts from the African continent. It has been a while since Africa was represented in the World Yoyo Championships. Eish!Yo could just be the mother of the next champ : - )

"As far as why I want to promote yoyoing in Kenya and Africa, I came across something which I found to be a really cool, constructive and very positive thing. I would love to share it with the people around me. It is great that in Europe, the Americas and Asia the yo-yoing community is growing daily.

"Online, I get to see and hear of how it has brought people from all walks of life together. In a continent that is torn in many places and ravaged by so many challenges that are out to divide us, I would love it if the yo-yo could bring us all together."

Q: Thanks Benson, and good luck with Eish!Yo!

"Thanks! Hopefully soon the Nairobi yoyo scene will be on the world map!"

benson gyro flop yoyo trick       benson skating yoyos

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