– The band from the slums of Nairobi grabbed the audience’s hearts at the Pavilion.
– The Band challenges the traditions, and government in Kenya by not fearing to sing about corruption and bad traditions in Kenya says their Danish manager.
The number of inhabitants and the country’s prominent position in Africa considered, Kenya plays an usually amazing little musical role on the Continent.
But it may be changing. The young white-dressed band Sarabi from Nairobi’s Eastlands slum showed at least on the stage at Roskilde Festival, Denmark that they have everything it takes to get ahead and reach out.
In front the young singer Nelson Mandela (yes, it is actually his name) showed and his female side pal Isabella Were one formidable contagious energy. It was like watching two school friends play world stars.
Beautiful singing, bodily musical and with an irresistible urge to grab the audience’s heart, soul and footwear and create a truly real sense of community. Everything that spread and feel the love and come together in the music across all boundaries, sounded not a second like a cliché in the mouths of young Nelson. Only as an incarnate truth.
No to abuse of power
When a guitar wailed uncontrollably, Mandela grabbed the opportunity immediately.
“Don’t mind that, and don’t let it disturb you! It’s called imperfect. And that is why we are here together today. “
With charming and endearing vocals, a kinetic riveting stage presence and an utterly convincing role as the young African voice that says no to abuse of power and corruption beamed Sarabi in a race with the sun at Roskilde.
The band members are only in their early twenties, but the eight-man men/women orchestra has played together for many years and that can be heard.
The mixture of Afro-pop, reggae mood and more western tones might not be the most original in the world, but the music was provided by incandescent, humility and a truly infectious innocence, who generously reached out and out and out.
The meeting with Sarabi was clearly my most touching Roskilde experience this year.
From the slum districts in Kenya’s capital, the group can start a youth rebellion, which should change the country. For their songs and lyrics are an overt criticism of the system. Tells the Group’s Danish manager, Thomas Menzer.
– The fearlessness Sarabi possess, is so amazing. I live down there, so I know a little about what it means to speak their mind, he says, and continues:
– It could go and get to a situation where they actually are those who make the difference.
Say it like no one else does
According to Thomas Menzer the group is one of the very few in the country who dare voice criticism.
– Kenya is not just the place where you have a tradition of demonstrating on the street and say your opinion aloud. You have to assume that there have earlier been a really tough justice around people who criticized the system, he says.
According to the group’s Danish manager, the group has done a great job out of familiarize themselves with how the world is interconnected. He believes this is the reason why their lyrics are much more aggressive and daring than other Kenyan artists.
– They say things as they are, and they are not afraid to criticize neither the government, corruption, human rights and all the other things one meet on a daily basis in Nairobi. Every day there are these moments where we have to find the best in ourselves not to explode, says Thomas Menzer, who like the music group is living in Nairobi.
The voice of youth
Sarabis manager believes that young people in Kenya, are the group facing the biggest problems in the country. And do you stay in the slum, like Sarabi has, then you only have even more problems. He does not believe that there have been some who have dared to sing about the situation before Sarabi.
– 70-80 percent of the population (in Keanya ed.) Is under 35. The things which affect young people, is everything from education to how to get a job, to how to avoid falling into any of the traps, Like crimes. These are the things that Sarabi is singing about, says Thomas Menzer.
Older generations are burdened by colonial
Sarabi belong to a generation that has grown up with the Internet. So they have had access to other forms of music than their original Kenyan tribal music. It may also be why Sarabi has their own sound, says Thomas Menzer.
Access to the Internet is also the reason why the members of Sarabi, has a different view of society than their parents’ generation.
– Many in Kenya in their age, are very tied to their parents’ traditional view from the colonial era. There are many things that stuck with the parents, that they have not really gotten rid of yet, he says, and continues:
– On the way they grow up in a traditional system that does allow you to have an opinion and say it publicly. It is foreseen to the policy makers. You know all along that they are corrupt, but many things can happen if you say your opinion aloud, says Thomas Menzer.
Revolution in the duck pond
The Danish manager believes that the great support for the music group could ultimately lead to more than just other concerts than they gave Thursday noon at the Roskilde Festival.
– It could be something of a revolution they will do in the duck pond down there, because there’s not really any of their age, which is where they are, at all, he says.