There is no shortage of talent in Kenya when it comes to music and performance art. However we don’t all appreciate talent in the same way. Concert venues and club gigs may work better for certain artists, audiences and their energy and not so much for others.
Music does not have to be consumed in the same way by everyone. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon ‘Lahani‘ – a space where acoustic music takes center stage, allowing its growing audience to appreciate names that may not as yet be quite on the fingertips of everyone.
I reached out to its founder, Kibali Muriithi who says he initially envisioned it as a solution to the gripes his musician friends were having, namely that there weren’t enough gigs for their type of art: “In my quest to search for different venues, I bumped into my neighbour Kabugo wa Kamau at A Night Of Afro-Jazz. That meeting eventually led to a conversation about a possible venue within a bakery and that is how Lahani was born.” Kibali’s day job is also at a bakery – art imitating life?
That was around five months ago. Being born and bred in Mombasa, Swahili was the first language he learned and the word Lahani stands for ‘musical tune’ – the encapsulation of everything he wishes it to be.
And it is already taking shape! Nairobi’s hey-day of live music happened for me perhaps four or five years ago. Sunday evenings would be spent in bars across the city listening to live bands – an energy that I feel has faded away a little over the years. But according to Kibali, the passion is still strong: ” …I am surrounded by artistes galore…who complain about being overlooked simply because they haven’t recorded, or their music is not receiving airplay…so I decided to step up and create this, because as Obama said, – Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been seeking for; we are the change we seek.”
Because he’s in musical circles (dubbing himself a ‘bathroom pop star’) he has been reaching out to his friends to perform: “the curtain raiser this month becomes the main act next month. Plus I owe them so many favors, including asking them for the bare minimum at previous engagements. I owe them ALOT and this is my way of offsetting hayo madeni…!”
Lahani is hoping to attract a community that really is proactive about discovering new artists – and he’s not shy about his stand on what he hopes for the future: “Talent is tantamount, and that is what I seek to spotlight. I know that that may come off as condescending; I go to gigs to watch curtain-raisers because they give their all. And I know how it feels to feel invisible on stage even though you have the voice of ten thousand angels. That is what I hope to change with Lahani; come because you love music. Come because you are ready to discover!”
This Saturday, Lahani features Waksy and Wangui at 910 James Gichuru Road in Lavington. They come off the heels of previous performers such KIU, Sage, Ciano, Waithera, Ayrosh, Masika and Kibali himself – all as varied as the four seasons, he says!
Lahani takes place every first Saturday of the month.
Paybill: 138 090 (JK and Associates)
Type in your name for account identification
Images: Paul Munene of Quaint Photography.