Jazz music comes of age in Kenya as Manu Dibango brings the house down at Safaricom International Jazz Festival (Video)

Since its launch in 2014, Safaricom International Jazz Festival has raised over Sh37 million from proceeds of the event.

  • Cameroonian saxophonist, Manu Dibango was the headline act at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival 2018.
  • 12 Kenyan bands also performed and thrilled the crowd to no ends.
  • Sh18million was raised from the proceedings of the event and will go to Ghetto Classics.

Marking five years since it was launched, the organisers had no option but to make sure this year’s festival goes down in history as the best jazz festival yet and if the fans reaction is anything to by they sure did.

From as early as 10am young and old, black and white music fans started streaming to the Carnivore grounds ready for a musical marathon of their lives.

Household names such as Jacob Asiyo, Kavutha Mwanzia, Edward Parseen, Afro Sync Band, James Gogo, Nairobi Horns Project, Shamsi Music, Eddie Grey and Chris Bittok were slated to perform.

The main attraction was however, Grammy award winner and one of Africa's most eclectic musicians, with well over forty albums, Cameroon Saxophonist, Manu Dibango who was the headline act.

All the proceeds from the event would go towards supporting Ghetto Classics, a non-profit programme that teaches music skills to youth from underprivileged backgrounds in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Since its launch in 2014, Safaricom International Jazz Festival has raised over Sh37 million ($370,000) from proceeds of the event, funds that are being used to transform the lives of over 1400 young boy and girls through music, education and much more.

Dazzling in a flowing orange dress, Kavutha Mwanzia was the MC of the event and kept the frenzy crowd up on their feet.

A little past 1pm the first act, Mambo Tribe, a band made up of multi-cultural musicians that come from different parts of Kenya on the local scene and musicians of different nationalities on the international scene, took to the stage and belted out beautiful tunes, effectively setting  the tempo of the festival.

Juma Tutu & The Swahili Jazz Band, one of the top notch bands in East Africa would come and set the tempo even higher, the crowd went wild when as if on cue Juma dropped his Kenyan classic ‘Nakupenda Kama Sukari’ and from there henceforth there were no sitting down everyone was on their feet, young and old they danced away as if possessed by spirits.

When the skies threatened to open up, the crowd were unfazed, they danced away in the rain with African drums beats, Saxophones tunes, combined with captivating vocals warming them up as quickly as the raindrops fell on them, it was nature verses mankind more specifically musicians and for once mankind was winning hands down, the rains later subsided but not before thoroughly soaking the ground.

Multi-faceted musician, Jacob Asiyo and the ‘queen of jazz’ Kavutha Mwanzia provided the crowd with more than they had bargained for with the beautiful couple divulging how they met, cracking love jokes amid intoxicating jazz tunes.

With Jacob Asiyo on the keyboard and Mwanzia on the mic the musical couple thrilled the crowd to no ends.

It was however until Mwanzia sang Afro blue that the crowd really got a feel of what a musical genius she is, she could hit musical notes unimaginable to the ordinary mortal and completely hypnotized  the crowd.

By the time she was done, the stage was smoking hot and the crowd was uncontrollable, she was given a standing ovation.

Edward Parseen & the Different Faces Band clad in their signature KIZA caps thrilled the crowd when they performed some of Kenyan popular tracks such as Juakali feat Sanaipei track Kwaheri in Jazz version, proving that music speaks one language but come in different flavours.

Some of musicians who also left the crowd screaming for more were, Eddie Grey, Chris Bittok, Shamsi Music, Mwai & the truth, The Nairobi Horns Project, Gogo Simo and The AfroSync Band.

Of course the festival couldn’t be over without the legendary Joseph Ngala, popularly known as Mzee Ngala playing some sweet bango tunes, he didn’t disappoint either.

A few minutes past 7pm the man of the moment, a global icon of African music, Manu Dibango and his 'Makossa Gang' band hit the stage to culminate Safaricom International Jazz Festival at five.

Armed with his sexy saxophone and gravel voice, ‘The lion of Cameroon’ as he has been nicknamed belted out some of his popular tunes including his Grammy-winning track “Soul Makossa” released in 1972 and effectively brought the house down.

For over half an hour, the 84-year-old clean-shaven musical giant kept the crowd on their feet with wild screams of joy renting the air and the crowd demanding for more.

Before he finalize his act, Manu invited all the bands on stage and like a caring father surrounded with his sons and daughters, he gave each a chance to belt out their best tunes backed by the 'Makossa Gang'  and for over ten minutes beautiful music to raise the dead rented the air proving Jazz never died, it is here to stay.

At the end of it all, Sh18million ($180,000) had been collected and will go to Ghetto Classics to make sure Kenya’s next generation of musicians never miss a beat or a tune.

See you again at the next Safaricom Intentional Jazz Festival.

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