Concerts, Ramadhan And Other Long Weekend Stories

This story first appeared on Nairobi Underground

Kidum of Sarabi performs with Juliani Photo: @ronjeyrocks

Last weekend was interesting. Smoothly in tandem, Friday slid in with a riotous week. I only grasped the idea of public holiday on the eve while planning for a typical busy Friday. Therefore, excited like a juvenile at the candy shop, i made plans not to follow most of the initial plans by creating new ones. I bet it seemed like the world would change overnight and there’d be no one to engage if i didn’t adjust-thanks to my social circles. By the way, this has nothing to do with isolophobia or some kind of social anxiety, nah fam.

This is peer pressure in full measure of adulthood. On a scale of one and the truth, i’m that kid happily playing alone in his room.

Blunt Billy Photo: Wild Burners

I mean, whats with Wild Burn being the craziest event I’ve ever missed. For some reason I believed I knew what i was going to miss, but the mother of FOMO descended upon my soul when they started posting images of the event as it unraveled. The most painful part is that some of those people are still running wild across the wilderness of Shompole, Magadi when we’re stuck in this our new-found Nairobi winter.

Burners chilling in Shompole. Photo: Wild Burners

Others left town to other towns while the rest like some of my friends and i, opted to pregame in the comforts of our zones, with intentions to later-on mutate into ninjas of the cold Nairobi nights, but even that got frozen. Or should i say knocked out because Rob drowned his balance at some drinking hole on Mombasa Road while i waited for the bastard in Westlands.

My other friend, also took an L. So i found myself on a Taxify-boda to Makina-Kibera, braving about a million tiny ice needles crashing violently against my face, until i got to the house of my other-other friend, Saumu Abdalla who had cooked out her heart and soul in celebration of the end of the Holy month of Ramadhan.

The drummer’s viewfrom Dagoz artist bar Photo: @ronjeyrocks

Bwoy didn’t i eat! Overwhelmed by the generosity and culinary flamboyance of Nubian and Somali friends over the years, I might have developed a little stereotype that everyone who rocks a buibui or has a Muslim name must be a kitchen whizz. But that’s not true, as we both know people who could nicely fit this stereotype if only they weren’t so useless in the kitchen. And just like that, i sampled mouthfuls and toothsome delectables from a mixed palate of Nubian, Swahili and Arab tastes. After the meal, everyone is allowed to sit lazily and talk while sipping sodas and juices. I finally went home at kedo 11pm, sent a text to my neighbor like “yooooh, whats poppin?” then fell asleep on the couch, ouch. And i wasn’t even drunk-true Muslim events don’t have booze.

Mbaba Brothers at their restaurant. Photo: @ronjeyrocks

Kibera, as you enter from Ngong Road sides, by Prestige Plaza, is predominantly a Muslim area. It is the locality where Nubian war veterans settled at the turn of the century, making the stretch from DC, all the way to Makina the home of Nubian culture in Kenya. Being a predominantly Muslim society, this area went all out on Ramadhan; a painfully slow traffic jam grew its tail one hundred meters before the designated bus stop as the multitudes and the faithfuls came back from taking selfies at Uhuru Park. Pedestrians meandered around vehicles and street vendors touting sweets and snacks and toys and useless Chinese decoratives. The atmosphere had dust, cheap perfumes and kitsch as gifts turned the streets to catwalks.

Caught in this frenzy were mostly women, children and a few men. Otherwise, most of the youth had turned the road sides into borne fires, getting lit on kwangkwang and jabba. The young ladies dressed like they were straight out of your favorite music video- just enjoying the attention and teasing men.

kuduro dancers backstage. Photo: @ronjeyrocks

Come Saturday, I found myself on the Southern bypass going to Ngong where I spent the day at the foot of the hills. I stayed home that night, not by design- accidentally. I must have been so tired from the hills that i even forgot to eat. I only remember waking up at 4am like, WTF happened? Did i just miss Simbim at the Backyard Bar opening? Hollly Shhhhhhh!!!

Selfie. Photo: @ronjeyrocks

But it was Sunday morning. I thought of going to church, but only had an actual conversation with an old friend about it instead. Roy was like, “ i just got here (church) now now, thought you’d be as well”. I took an L on that conversation and TG (thank God) he didn’t bother me much after. I like friends like that. I know he’ ll bring it up some other time but i respek that he put some respek on my choices.

Mose of Zikki. Photo: @ronjeyrocks

That afternoon, i had to go to town-on a Sunday-in a loooong while, because since i begun this writing business three years ago, i finally feel like i can add session drumming back on the schedule that already involves loads of interesting things interlinked within the creative/cultural space. Here i was going to the studio for a jam session followed by a concert attendance. So i thought, why not take my camera alongside my drumsticks and jump in an Uber to town.

Ms Okinda of Gravitti Band. Photo: @ronjeyrocks

Well, i did exactly that.

At the studio, I got to play on tracks that have been out of my repertoire for a while, but that’s probably why i was dying to just play again, indiscriminately. I reckon and respect that the reckless gigging and numerous band memberships i once subscribed to in my early years are the actual blessings I currently enjoy as a super versatile drummer.

stage mayhem photo: @ronjeyrocks

At 6pm, i got to the Alliance Francaise where Boniface Mwangi guys were throwing yet another big #FormNiGani concert. Boasting a strong lineup of performers, the gig had an equally crucial message for the youth-to take responsibility of their own futures. Through photo exhibitions, music, poetry, dance and studio booths, the garden became a festival albeit for less than 10 hours. The house went down courtesy of Juliani, Zikki, Mufasa, Kuduro Dancers, MC Teardrops, Gravitti Band, Boniface Mwangi, Cindy Ogana, Suzziah and many other talents from Nairobi.

Twinderet photo: @ronjeyrocks

There was a random backstage moment where i met SERRO and Suzziah just hanging out in a tent. Later, I’d overhear Fena tell a story of how they used to just hangout and jam at Alliance back in the day. Marto was listening with a wide mouth when i got distracted by things. I stayed till both my camera and iPhone died flat, and there was nothing else to do other than really get down to Gravitti Band’s electrifying show. There aren’t many reggae bands in Kenya like these guys except a few more and maybe club djs. I say that because; you know how most bands (mine included) keep stopping after each song for no main reason other than to start the next one? These guys know that climax needs consistency (see what I did there 😉) The sweetness of reggae music is also in the nonstop flow of good vibes and riddims. I danced till my legs turned sore. Then went home @ronjeyrocks.

Cindy Ogana & Elizabeth Anyango working the crowd photo: @ronjeyrocks
Bianju Morris of Zikki. Photo @ronjeyrocks

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