No festivals to mark ‘dull’ Utamaduni day

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Music artist Otile Brown entertains revelers during the performance of Jamaican reggae artist Tarrus Riley at the Koroga festival in Naivasha on June 26, 2022. [Courtesy, Standard]

Crowds of people stretched as far as the eye could see. Such was the situation at this year’s DSTV Delicious International Food and Music Festival in South Africa.

When it was announced that the festival would return after a two-year hiatus occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, tickets for the Saturday event, with Nigerian artist Burna Boy headlining, sold out. in six weeks.

There were an envy of 100,000 people on the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit where the event was held on September 24, and an almost similar number the following day when American RnB artist Babyface headlined the festival .

While Burna Boy was the lead actor, the rest of the lineup of artists at the two-day event was amazing, featuring other megastars such as three-time Grammy-winning artist Angie Stone, Digable Planets and G-Force, and South African mega stars like Kwaito Mdu legends Kabelo Thebe and many more.

South Africa is a dancing nation, which is why the Channel O Drip stage at the same festival also featured various DJs and dance artists such as DBN Gogo, Kemo Mphela, Mellow & Sleazy, Mr JazzIQ and Blxckie.

Numerous sponsors and partners were featured, from Mercedes, which invited attendees to experience their most luxurious latest models right from the VIP entrance, to dozens of food stalls where people could experience the mouth-watering cuisine of the South Africa.

The festival, which started 7 years ago, has truly lived up to its reputation as “a music festival for foodies and a food festival for music lovers”.

The icing on the cake was that the festival was rightly held during the country’s heritage weekend, so that locals and foreigners alike could enjoy and celebrate South African culture and traditions during such a event.

As we celebrate our own heritage today on Utamaduni Day, there will be a handful of songs and dances at various entertainment venues, but no festivals are planned anywhere. Questions arise about Kenya’s situation in terms of festivals. Can we also achieve such numbers?

Several Kenyan influencers were at the Delicious Festival courtesy of South African Tourism, most of whom expressed amazement at how big it was. The festival that comes closest to Kenya is the Koroga Festival, one of the biggest concerts in East Africa, which is also a two-day event that has been held for 7 years, with 30 editions, and the 31st is coming soon.

Speaking to The Standard at the festival, Koroga Festival Project Director Farida Idris said they were learning lessons from Delicious.

“We always wanted to make Koroga an international festival. Coming to see Delicious, there’s so much you learn about it in terms of different ideas. We obviously have our own niche and a unique layout of how we run Koroga,” she said.

One difference she pointed out was that in Koroga, the young and the old generation are separated. The Saturday show is specially dedicated to young people where they only focus on Kenyan artists and the target audience is around 18 to 27 years old, while the second day is the main day which is a family day that even children can attend.

“But what I found out here is that they have a youth section that is completely separate from the main stage and the main arena and the main whole thing, and they call it stage 2. And then you can have your older generation on the two days, where the main acts happen,” she said.

The Lamu Cultural Festival has not been held for over four years, yet it was a major source of revenue for the county.

Other festivals in the country are however still ongoing, such as the Beneath The Baobabs Festival (formerly known as Kilifi New Year Festival) held at the end of each year, which organizers say has become a Kenyan destination of 2 days and 2 nights. festival, and this year will present more than 60 East African and international artists.

A South African events coordinator, Ndumiso Buthelezi, also known as 2Lee Stark, told The Standard during the Delicious Festival that such events are good for the continent.

“We would also like to see what Kenya has as well. We could have a fun exchange about what’s going on there,” he said.

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