This past weekend, the fun-loving Nairobians were treated to an exciting Koroga Festival. The usually serene Arboretum Park was turned into a beehive of activities as it played host to some of East Africa’s finest musicians. Kenyans who came in droves to attend the ninth edition of the famous Koroga Festival. The event did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded many people’s expectations. I had read about the events, seen pictures and watched videos but somehow I always missed the chance to attend either because I was tied up somewhere or just because it happened at the wrong time when my pockets didnt have much to say. When the opportunity presented itself this time, I took it. Nay, I actually grabbed it with both hands. I had fun as I danced to the music performed live by artists or played by the DJs. Here, I write Koroga Festival as it turned out for me and all that was outstanding.
A past Koroga festival was almost disrupted by a heavy downpour. This eventuality could have been enough to scare people from leaving the comfort of their homes but that never happened. People came armed with protective gear and wearing the right shoes in the event that the unpredictable Nairobi weather changed and it started raining especially around this time when there is too much hype about the El-Nino. However, people only needed their umbrellas to shield themselves against the bright sun that smiled on them. The gods must have conspired to treat people to some good weather as it was sunny throughout the day and no sign of rain until the event was over.
Turn up by people-Revellers
The event was fully sold out. The party goers who could not get tickets well in advance, turned up early prior to the event starting and queued to obtain tickets at the gate. The mega tent erected at the park was not enough to contain the large number of people who turned up for the event. It was fully occupied thus many people were forced to spread out their Maasai shukas and sit outside. The numbers grew by the hour so that one had to nudge people out of the way with their elbows. Koroga is so popular that even Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua had to attend the event.
The food and drinks
Food joints, restaurants and bars pitched tents around the mega tent to provide food and drinks to the party goers. Mbuzi choma, Kuku choma, coffee, sheesha and all types of foods and drinks were readily available for the people who needed to buy. The official sponsor of the event, Calsberg, offered some chilled drinks for the people at pocket friendly prices.
Events such as the Koroga festival are known to attract different kinds of people are obviously interested in what is offered there beside the party. Business people who are alive to this fact took advantage of the event to market their products and services. Different organisations and firms pitched their tents at the event to showcase what they offer and probably sell it to the people who visited the tents. Companies such as Kenya Airways, 1824 club, Calsberg, Small firms that sell clothes and jewellery were amongst others were in attendance.
The festival itself
The person who conceived the Koroga Festival was an outright genius. Nothing unites Kenyans and makes them put away their negative ethnicity better than the festivals and anything that brings them together such as music. The organisers of the event have strived to make the event a success and their efforts are bearing fruits. This is a great way to foster peace, and promote the artists who always perform at the event.
This was the highlight of the event and could make every other thing written here appear unnecessary. The performances from Atemi, Kidum and Ali Kiba were nothing short of electrifying. At a time when Atemi’s Bebi Bebi (Bebi Bebi), Ali Kiba’s Chekecha and veteran Kidum’s songs are rocking the airwaves, there couldn’t have been a better choice of combination of artists. Among the three, Atemi was first on stage and she rocked it with her new and old songs backed up by Riggah and an amazing band that was in sync with her pace of performance. Kidum came in after Atemi and had every person up on their feet. His uniquely husky voice moved some to tears. He would pause after each song to briefly introduce the next song amidst a wave of emotions that swept across the tent as he spoke. He then brought a twist of gospel by performing his famous ‘Namba Moja’ song that had almost everyone waving in unison to the beat. He had a guest performer who made the crowd go wild with his covers of some famous ragga songs. Kidum came back and made people dance to some famous Kikuyu gospel songs. By the time he was leaving the stage he had catered to every reveller’s expectations.
Ali Kiba was undoubtedly the man who stole the show. The band took their time to set up the instruments as people chanted his name. The MCs hyped the crowd and it was almost evident that he would bring down the house with his performances. When he finally hit the stage, clad in all black and a hoodie that slightly covered his face, the crowd went crazy. Flashes of light as people snapped away the moment Ali Kiba covered his face; he gave his signature salute and got to performing. People sang along to his Cinderella song, word for word. He had experienced dancers that backed him up and a band that played the instruments with virtuosity. Sweat dripped down his face but that could not get him off stage. He ripped off his shirt amidst shouts, excitement, ululations and all sounds from among the attendees of the event. He did his famous chekecha dance as people danced along. He left the stage leaving the crowd yearning for more.
Little devils and security
I don’t know when events such as this one will be free from crazy crime, but there needs to plan to get rid of the little devils in the name of the pickpockets that make their way to the events at the dying moments. They manage to steal valuable devices from unsuspecting party goers and Koroga was no different. A reveller had his phone snatched from his hands as he tried recording the live performance and his pleas to the people around him for help landed on deaf ears and came late after the thieves had made their way out of the tent. Such a low from the event. Strict measures ought to be put in place to curb such vices.