There are a number of festivals and family events that have been held in the past, and I have attended some of these but I am yet to experience anything quite like what I experienced yesterday. There were many places you could have been but the Safaricom Jazz Festival was THE ultimate place to be. For starters, it was probably the most family-friendly event I have been to-no ratchet behaviour in extremities. There was a section specifically designed for kids with bouncing castles, trains and lots to eat and drink.
Now, you will agree with me that Jazz isn’t a genre that is considered popular in Kenya, matter of fact most revellers, including me, were there for the first time. Over the last two years, the number of people attending the festival has risen from about approximately 5000 to about 11000; that is a more than 50% rise! And this comes as no surprise seeing as every Safaricom festival turns out to be bigger and better than the previous one. Here is how it all went down.
Free ride to and from the event
For some of those coming from town, event partners Apollo Tours made sure to get them to and from the event free and with relative ease and comfort with their state-of-the-art buses.
Perfect Sunday afternoon weather
The soothing sounds of the saxophones, guitars, pianos and drums seemed to draw out the sun as it was in its full glare. The tent pitched at the training grounds was not enough to accommodate all the revellers. Those unlucky to sit outside drew out their Safaricom-branded umbrellas to shield themselves against the scorching sun.
Everyone was VIP
How often do you get to interact freely with Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore or KCB CEO, Joshua Oigara? Well I guess you rarely do. Yesterday was an exception. These two high profile individuals and a host of other celebrated personalities were offered the same kind of treatment as the rest of the attendees. Everyone inside the tent sat on the ground whether you paid three hundred bob or a thousand. The CEOs took selfies with any reveller that wanted to. After their performances members of the performing bands could be seen interacting with the thrilled crowds taking pictures, answering questions and just having fun. Unlike many other events where there are VIP sections, at the Safaricom jazz festival, everyone was accorded a befitting VIP treatment.
This was the main reason people turned up in large numbers. This was the reason people were undeterred by the hot sun. This was the reason they ignored that the following day would be Monday and would be required to report to work or school. The jazz experience. Did it disappoint? Not at all. In fact, it exceeded most people’s expectations. Bands drawn from different parts of the world- Italy, Belgium, Israel, Kenya, UK, Nigeria, South Africa, USA- staged performances that will remain etched in the revellers’ minds for a long time.
I got in late so I missed the earlier performances. But I got quite a bit of the action beginning with Edward Parseen and the Different Faces Band. There were particular performances that stood out for me and got me up on my feet dancing to the jazz rhythms. Edward Parseen & The Different Faces Band from Kenya played a jazz rendition of locally recognized songs such as Harry Kimani’s “Haiya”, Solly Mahlangu’s “Wa Hamba Nathi” and JB Maina’s “Tiga Kumute” .
These songs resonated well with the people as most of them danced and danced along. After this thrilling performance, the jazz bar had been raised even higher. Up next on stage was the ‘Sons of Kemet’ band that played the music instruments with so much passion. Two drum sets, a saxophone and a trumpet was all they used to stage a more than electrifying performance. By the time Nigeria’s Kunle Ayo hit the stage, darkness was already crawling in but people stayed on. He led his band as he played the lead guitar with unmatched dexterity. He proved he has mastered his art when he played his own rendition of the hit song “Zigo” by AY ft. Diamond.
The main act for the night was three-time Grammy award winner- Branford Marsalis . Darkness had already enveloped the training grounds when he walked to the stage. Clad in official outfits, the quartet made me understand two things; that you have got to give your trade the respect it deserves and what it really meant to feel the music. You could see the raw undiluted passion for jazz from the expressions on their faces, to the way they played each of the instruments. Branford played the sax like he had been doing it since the day he came out of the womb. Pure perfection.
While many walked in to the event never having listened to a note of jazz before in their lives, they walked out having developed a certain liking for it, probably promising to listen to it more. At least I did.S
I am an upcoming creative writer and pencil artist who has passion for anything art. I like travelling and meeting new people. I am currently pursuing commerce, finance major at the university of Nairobi. Through my writing, I hope to impact in the lives of people. I run my blog at www.mwauramswati.wordpress.com