Koroga Festival – how it went down yesterday


For Mothers Day yesterday, folks were spoilt for choice. Being a Sunday, most people started the day in church, some visited their mothers and spent the day with them, others who couldn’t opted to make touching posts on social media celebrating theirs and all mothers around the world. For the Koroga Festival faithful and first timers, yesterday was a day they could have chosen to kill as many birds as they wanted with one stone-go to church, make a heartfelt post to their mothers, or better yet gift them (or themselves) with the ultimate gift by taking them to the festival held at Arboretum grounds, Nairobi, to celebrate the beauty of African music, food, fashion and arts. This is how it all went down.

Manu Dibango

The weather and turn up

The gloomy weather – thick grey clouds threatening to burst at any moment and let out a heavy down pour did little to deter the party goers, well some of them. Unlike many other editions where the sun came out in its full glare attracting huge masses, this edition was particularly affected by the bad weather. Heavy rains experienced on the eve of the festival meant that the usually green Arboretum grounds would be muddy. This denied the revellers the chance to spread out their Maasai shukas on the ground like they normally do as they enjoy the Koroga festival. Although the gloomy weather translated to low turn up (compared to the last edition where tickets were sold out), the party went on as planned. Low turn up meant that those who braved the weather had more space to gyrate their hips as they danced to the good music and also had the chance to take as many photos as they wanted.

The Koroga Experience

I made my way to the venue while the multi-talented June Gachui together with Edward Parseen and Different Faces band were delighting the party goers with a breath-taking performance. Julie Gachui awed the revelers with her lovely voice and a performance that set the music bar high.

Edward Parseen and the Different Faces band made their way back on stage and performed their own rendition of the late Billy Paul’s-Me and Mrs. Jones. The mature audience sang along as the band sort of incarnated the multi- award winner.

There could be many reasons many ladies chose to be at Koroga Festival despite the gloom that was the weather, but Maurice Kirya ranks first. The king of Mwooyo, known for his feather-smooth voice and soulful music that touches the heart awed even the men present at the event. He is quite the funny chap as well. As part of his performance, the ‘Lady In The Blue Dress’ singer artistically narrated a story about how he met a lady who would later call him nine months after he spent a night at her place. Maurice Kirya performed as he strummed the guitar proving why he is one of the best East Africa’s acts.

Maurice Kirya

At around 4.30p.m, the stage was set for the main act of the day. The band on stage displayed its virtuosity in playing the different instruments. Moments went by and the anticipation grew. You could feel it in the air. It was evident from people’s faces. They wanted to experience music from the living legend. As the clock chimed five o’clock, the headliner of the bi-monthly event, Manu Dibango made his way to the stage amidst shouts and ululations from the thrilled festival goers. At 82 years, he staged an unforgettable performance somewhat effortlessly.

Boy did the music virtuoso blow his sax! Backed by his ‘soul makossa’ band and two lovely background vocalists, he played some of his best music which spans over five decades. In the spirit of eulogizing the fallen Papa Wemba, he led the revelers to observing a moment of silence. 2 hours later, he was still as fresh as he got to the stage. He looked excited and energized to perform his music. The international jazz legend definitely lived up to the revelers’ expectations.

So, that’s how it all went down. Look out for the 13th edition coming soon.

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