It has been a while since I attended the Koroga Festival. Koroga, for the unaware, is a bi-monthly music extravaganza hosted by Capital FM celebrating the greatest African acts from around the continent. Hordes of music enthusiasts, fashionistas and musicians converged at the carnivore grounds in Nairobi to celebrate music, art, food and culture for the weekend.
I was in 2 minds about attending the May 2017 edition, but I figured it had been a while so why not? Once again we failed at our (I was with my sister and a couple of her friends) attempt to get to the venue early. We got to the gate at around 1:30 pm only to be greeted by a long and winding queue. After about 15 minutes of queuing common sense finally prevailed as they separated the genders for the security check, which at least resulted in the queue moving much faster.
Once inside I was greeted by some lovely ladies from Lifebuoy handing out freebies (a bar of soap and sanitizer). They invited me to watch Janet Mbugua (former news anchor and Lifebuoy brand ambassador) who would be hosting a hand washing demonstration later in the day. I certainly don’t need a celebrity showing me how to wash my hands, but I didn’t mind getting the freebies.
As usual if you want to get a seat then check in early. Unsurprisingly we didn’t get any seats so we had to walk around hunting for bales of hay to sit on; which while not the most comfortable did serve their purpose.
The first act on stage was Le Band – a relatively new four man boy band that is creating a lot buzz in the Kenyan music scene. I first came across them thanks to someone who posted a link of their song Number 1 on Twitter. It took a while for the crowd to warm up, but when they started belting the first chords of Number 1, the crowd was up and jamming.
Food + good music is the perfect plan for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that food vendors were aplenty and it was not the same vendors I was used to from the previous festivals. I was feeling peckish so I had a cheeseburger and fries from Urban Gourmet for a total of Kshs 650. I love their burgers, their 2 for 1 offer for Mondays is fantastic.
In comparison to Arboretum, Carnivore is a much better venue. There is more space therefore more variety when it comes to the vendors. The festival did a good job of catering to various taste buds, unlike the prior Arboretum venue where all the food vendors had pretty much similar offerings.
I didn’t spot a children’s play area perhaps because I did not walk much around the grounds. Koroga seems to slowly be morphing into an adults only event since they seem to have done away with the children’s play area unlike the previous editions.
Amina and Maqbul were the MCs for the day. They did a good enough job keeping the crowd entertained during the interludes. If only Amina could master that she need not shout on the microphone in order to be heard.
Next on stage was Jean-Pierre Nimbona, commonly referred to as Kidum, a Kenyan based musician originally from Burundi. Kidum, is a nickname given to him by his mother and literally means a 20-liter jug, apparently because he was a very chubby baby.
I have a soft spot for Kidum and I can sing along to almost all his songs with the exception of the ones in Kirundi. Kidum is a brilliant entertainer, who is able to pull crowds with his singing and gripping performance. He performed a set that included a few of the oldies and I think 1 song from his latest album. His band now has a horn section more so the reason he keep getting better and better with time.
He was on stage for slightly more than hour. Then followed a very looong interlude where the DJ kept the crowd occupied with old school Bongo music and some old school hits from Kenya’s Kapuka era.
Next on stage was the main act – Diamond Platnumz. With 20-plus awards to his name, the native of Tanzania is currently one of Africa’s most celebrated artists.
The anticipation awaiting the Tanzanian headliner was clearly palpable, and once he took to the stage everyone was on their feet. I had long since moved from the front of the crowd but I made a brave attempt to get back there so as to take photos. I failed … it was so crowded, everyone had gathered around the tent for the performance and to make matters worse it had started raining. After a few poor shots I decided it wasn’t worth it. In hindsight I should have kept my prime spot right in front of the stage where I had an uninterrupted view.
I am not familiar with all his music and not all of it to my taste but he has sung some of my favorite bongo tracks. *Cues Salome*
Diamond led the crowd in multiple full-throated favorites such as Ukimwona,Nimpende Nani,Nataka Kulewa. Flanked by a full band and a troop of dancers the performance was a stand-out and despite not knowing most of his songs I could not stop dancing and singing along. With a great stage presence, and a top notch production, there wasn’t a single moment in the performance that he didn’t keep the energy high!
He performed Salome about 3 times, working the crowd into a frenzy, me included. Towards the end of his performance he invited comedian Eric Omondi to share the stage with him for a hilarious impromptu performance.
Diamond’s performance was even more brilliant given that I had expected way less. Last time I saw him perform (at Carnivore in the Simba Saloon) he had no band, lip synched and was on stage for barely 20 minutes.
I left immediately after Diamond’s last song but I didn’t leave fast enough to avoid the horrid traffic out of Carnivore, spending about 40 minutes before finally making it out of the grounds. The organizers need to do something about this, perhaps get someone to control the traffic after the event is over.
All in all the past edition of Koroga was worth the Kshs 2,000 I paid (in advance, it will costs you Kshs 2,500 at the gate) for my ticket.