From all my interactions in the past 3 months, it’s clear that the ecosystem around the pursuit of happiness is progressively changing. Social norms are quickly being eroded and that for many is liberation in itself. There’s a whole new crop of dreamers challenging archaic frameworks especially around career paths and what’s considered ‘acceptable’. Now, on the right side of history scribbling across my canvas, the youth remains the most monumental asset in orchestrating the future of our country and the stories we want to tell. Blind to the system, fresh eyes and fearless minds are championing change in style, art, film and music and that’s just a few of my favorite things. Needless to say, this year’s African Nouveau Festival was a must attend. The risk of FOMO was just too high.
I’d been closely following the conversations around unorthodox journeys when I stumbled upon Meshack Orio and Peter Walala; the dynamic duo that helped design the A.N outer worldly set. So when I finally received the call confirming that I was part of the media team working that weekend, I was caught between utter excitement and palpable anxiety. Perhaps at the realization that I wasn’t remotely capable of delivering incredible content alongside writers/photographers stamped with gold stars and numerous awards. Also the fact that I only had 2 days to come up with a uniquely crafted outfit characterized by earthly palettes demanded that I need not dawdle around.
Fast forward, en route to Ngong Racecourse spotting knock-offs, a hand-woven kiondo and knotty kinks was satisfactory at most. The fluid and finely calibrated sounds of Seventh Culture ushered us into the bustling scene. The pyramid stage, embroidered by doodles and dancing motifs was the height of euphoria. Every element strategically placed against each other and conveniently near the shawarma booth. Because let’s be honest, to truly commit to the eclectic manifolds of stage hopping – food fuel is mandatory…and boy did they nail it!
Scanning curiously through the grounds amidst Nairobi’s characteristic heat wave, was and still is an extreme sport. Perspiration does nothing for full coverage makeup – hell, not even if you are holding Fenty’s cheat sheet. Still, Patrick from the bar was quick to remind me – for the second time that they had no ice and therefore any plans of procrastinating work with Mojito runs were rendered nugatory.
That said, I’ll save my dramatic ode for the state of the country amidst Jubilee’s era.
I’d never tried shooting portraits using a DSLR before, not intentionally at least. I’m not sure whether it’s the complexity of human emotion or that thing the sun does to the skin that I haven’t quite mastered yet but overexposure was the least of my concerns. In between brisk walks (almost stalker-ish at this point) trying to snap the latest photographer’s dream, I caught myself marveling at the defiant aesthetics that masked the scene. These days, dressing up for a festival is as much an expression of philosophy as it is a fashion statement. Regal creations that cost more in time than they do coin because Kavindu, your ‘trusted’ tailor laughed as he promised for the umpteenth time to have your fit ready by Tuesday. Machikado hemlines and the remainder of Kenya’s polythene bag collection also made memorable sightings. I’ve never felt so under-dressed.
Granted that the only time I infuse some sort of deliberate effort into my outfits is on random Thursday nights heading to Instagram. Or when I factor in the estimated twerk ratio for a long birthday night ahead. Frankly, I’d much rather experiment with chicken recipes. But when it comes down to it, print on print is the only remedy over my styling restrictions – stereotypical pant and shirt pairings; which I did bring to this occasion.
I’m at the back playing catch up game.
While the photographers appetite for next beauty shot diminished in the velvet dark, the air was dense with Marijuana smoke, bodily sweat and ‘I love yous’ too loud to christen the sins of the night. As the morning drew closer my weak ass shaku slightly visible and quite frankly embarrassing to watch was a great transition into Boddhi Satva’s set. Skilfully displaying my prowess at ‘tunaenda ama’ [*assume knee-jack – clenched fists position*] in a bid to reclaim my status. Regardless of genre, it remains a crowd favorite and had everyone simultaneously chanting Ayyyeeeee! Writing its own class history.
When you know, you know!
The weekend’s curtain closed at 2am beneath the stars that night, watching all the people with no cares in the world other than money, ego and possibly Ubers.
Until next time.
Special thanks to Vin.arts_photography for capturing me.
Disclaimer; Boddhi’s pic, Kanye’s dropout bear sourced from internet.