…’the Swvl bus will be leaving at exactly 5.15 am.’ I read this text in the wee hours of Thursday morning. About a month ago, I did not ignore the DM and here I was before the crack of dawn, heading into town at our usual meet up the place with Turnup.Travel on Valentine’s weekend. Umande had not pasuad the earth yet, so the chilly morning cold was slowly seeping through my clothes. Half my face was wrapped in my fuzzy white scarf…I had to try that kachildish behavior of blowing into the air. You know, the one where you look like you are exhaling smoke…hehehe! We were shaking like lose twigs on a branch, alafu ghafla bin vu someone suggested we try the mid-air jumping pose to wade off the cold at the viewpoint. Why did we fake scream when doing this pose? It’s like we were somehow summoning our inner jump.
While it took us about two hours by road to Naivasha, it took another part of our group less than twenty minutes by air aboard the Aerocruise Chartered Plane. I’m not saying I was green with envy or that I had kiwaru, but these things do not want makasiriko.
Breakfast at Sawela Lodges is always a welcome tantalizing sight. I cannot emphasize enough about how beautiful this place would be for an out-of-town event. The Naivasha Love Festival sustainability conference at the lodge was the precedent to the 29th edition of Koroga Festival at the Hell’s Gate National Park. Scheduled activities for the day included a tree planting exercise, Lake Naivasha clean-up, and a free hike on Mount Longonot Park. Day one of Koroga was first approaching and we needed to catch up on a few hours of downtime before the festival began.
Security at the entrance to the park was meticulous: we had to alight from the bus, get individually checked and then get back on a short drive to the set parking area. As we approached the venue, the early night sky was clear of clouds revealing the constellation of stars and was silent, save for the excited laughs from other Koroga revelers. Like a luminous glow-worm, the large dome-shaped tent appeared in waves of alternating rainbow-colored lights. Then slowly, the music became audible at the second security checkpoint. The entirety of an auspicious festival is definitely set in the art, decor, music, food and an endless supply of drinks. This festival’s edition drew emphasis on the importance of environmental conservation; at various points in the venue, there were large bins for collecting plastic bottles, glass, and any other recyclable material. Emcee Neville and spin master Jokisila rocked the wheels of steel, as squad after squad of party people thronged the dome.
Guddhaman the hype master makes dancing look so easy…and I love dancing and everything but when he and his squad get on stage, then I try to follow his instructions step by step, I usually end up needing water and a few moments to catch my breath. I’ll just cheer next time because I’m unable to can. First on stage was the mellow voiced Nadia Mukami: she did not skip a beat as she performed her hit RnB songs, Maombi, Radio Love, African Lover, and Lola. Next was Ochungulo Family with their Gengetone club bangers; Aluta, Chachisha, Kirimino, Mbinginjii, Dudu, and Kaa na Mamayako. Last on stage on day one was Mister Khaligraph Jones, aka Papa Jones, the OG himself. Khaligraph commanded the entire stage and audience. Spitting his hip hop songs, hit after hit, verse after verse without losing his breath and had us shaking our heads rhythmically. My favorite part of live performances is screaming at the top of my lungs. If I go back home without a sore throat I will have disgraced my ancestors greatly. So, ‘aaaaaaahhhhhhh!’ I went. And then you know how The OG has this cool smirk on his face, then he turned and smiled, woi…weak knees. My voice was getting a little bit husky, and our squad was retreating to our fly Swvl ride. It was time to hit the proverbial sack, and I also needed to wash off the face paint.
Day two of Koroga was emceed by Miano Muchiri, while Dj Adrian was the spin master on the decks. Mike Rua, mister one-man guitar was first to go on stage. He belted out his Kikuyu hits with numerous comical but quippy covers that had us all in fits of laughter. Mister Rua was followed by H_art the Band. This band has been on my playlist since they hit the music scene, and they did not disappoint. This trio’s songs Masheesha, Nikikutazama, Uliza kiatu, Usiseme No, Elshaddai smoothly flew from our lips like we were part of the trio. H_art the Band’s synchronization and harmony with their different voices felt like floating on a cloud of cotton candy. I like cotton candy, so that’s that. The trio was briefly joined on stage by Guddhaman. This guy…I could have lost calories but I didn’t. I couldn’t, Urban Burger was just a stone throw away. As I was getting my recharge snack and drink, a very familiar voice hit the air…it was Chris Kaiga! The Niko on and Zimenice Gengetone crooner was on stage only briefly. I was grateful for the huge screens displayed outside the dome area…but I had to hurry back to my squad, near the stage. I wasn’t going to miss seeing the next artist with my bare eyes.
The much anticipated and highlight of the entire out-of-town Koroga experience was the internationally acclaimed Diamond Platinumz, aka Simba. He gave a two-hour non-stop performance which included choreographed dances with his dancers. At one point he even took off his blaze and remained bare-chested! God was very generous…I mean cubes pon cubes, biceps pon biceps. There was a lady next to me who was practicing for the screaming Olympics. I was going deaf…I heard her voice skid and suddenly descend, she was losing her voice before mine…alas, I had met my match! ‘Asiyecheza atoke!’ Diamond yelled. He even asked whether there were any single people in the audience and added that he was going to hook us all up…hahaha! Aaah…Mister Chibudi Chibude, you play too much. He then gave his all on some of his hits; Inama, Tetema, Salome, Kanyaga, African Beauty, and his most recent hit, Baba Lao. In his husky melodious voice at the end of his Baba Lao hit he said, ‘Thank you, see you next time!’ and just left us screaming and begging for more.
This was the Koroga Festival experience to remember. We were giddy and still yelling Baba Lao in the parking lot…it was hours past midnight, and we needed some shut-eye.
Party in the Park!
Valentine’s with Turnup.Travel was a great plan this year, this one was definitely for the books.
Written by Winnie Miriti on behalf of Turnup.Travel