The new normal. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, right? How can something be new and at the same time, normal? It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? Perhaps it was this precise dilemma that drove some 300 Nairobians to the Kikwetu Festival which was held at the Carnivore Grounds this past weekend.
Initiated in 2006, the annual festival became a signature event in the national calendar until 2011 when it went on hiatus. In an effort to revitalize domestic tourism and create safe spaces for entertainment, the festival made a timely come back this year with a unique drive-in concert held on 3rd and 4thOctober.
In a statement issued ahead of this year’s event, Kenya Tourism Board CEO Betty Radier stated that “Kenya is open and ready for business with the resumption of travels and open skies. Our hospitality facilities have complied with health and safety protocols as per the Ministry of Health.”
The choice of the Carnivore Grounds as the venue for Kenya’s first Covid compliant outdoor event could not have been more appropriate. The expansive grounds provided sufficient room for a safely distanced outing with attendees going through a standard check prior to admission. The event’s drive-in format also necessitated creation of clearly demarcated vehicle slots which in turn provided a natural barrier between the occupants.
“We believe that this will be the new way for people to enjoy themselves,” said Carnivore’s Assistant General Manager, Leonard Ngugi. “We have been pioneers in holding large concerts and we are glad to pioneer this first drive-in concert.”
The two day concert featured performances from top Kenyan artists ranging from seasoned icons like Eric Wainaina and Them Mushrooms to contemporary acts like Fena Gitu, Kahush and this year’s BET Award nominee, Khaligraph Jones. New-York based rapper Mazzialso graced the stage alongside his Kenyan contemporary, Nafsi Huru.
“Revitalizing the entertainment sector is of utmost importance as we begin to open up again” said Eric Wainaina. “Life without art is boring and uninspired and Kikwetu Festival is doing its part in pumping vigour and joy back into our lives.”
The festival was the brainchild of former German Ambassador to Kenya Walter Lindner who established it as a platform to foster unity through integration of culture and art. His successor, Annett Günther said, “The German Embassy is extremely proud to be part of the return of Kikwetu Festival, Kenya’s premiere music showcase, not only because it was founded by one of my predecessors but also because Kenya and Germany share the vision of unity in diversity. We are looking forward to the safe revival of the cultural sector after COVID-19”.
In what could emerge as the festival’s signature salutation, attendees expressed their excitement and appreciation of their favourite artists’ performances by honking from inside their cars as the musicians entertained them on stage. For this much needed addition to Nairobi’s increasingly innovative menu of outdoor offerings, we too say, beep-beep-beep!