Nairobi may be known as the party town in 254, but with the moves industry players are making in the counties, that might all change as nothing is cast in stone. Manuel Ntoyai expounds
Like many developing sectors, showbiz has managed to snake its way to the countryside, with the biggest driving forces being establishment of universities and satellite colleges in the counties and the Internet.
This in turn has seen individuals and entertainment start ups invest in quality entertainment. No longer do you need to be in Nairobi’s CBD to host a splendour fête, nor do you need to spend a buck load in a pompous affair.
All these worriment has been taken care of by the ‘Mr Reliables’ who make sure the parties are not just up to par with Nairobi’s standards, but at times brings the house (read county) down by seeking out some of the most sought after entertainers in town. And it goes both ways, as artistes know the importance of these fans when it comes to looking for club shows and when they do their tours.
Opening the market
Timmy TDat’s latest jam, Ingoje, paints the perfect picture when he sings, “….Kama uko Meru uliza Kayfar….” Kayfar is the CEO of Watanashati Classics, an entertainment unit that has set up shop in Meru county.
Kayfar makes money through provision of entertainment services such as sound, stage and lights. He plays the plugin role between corporates and local artistes ensuring the business in showbiz is profitable.
“When we brought Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz to Meru, people thought we were in it for show. However, we wanted the rest of the regions to know entertainment shouldn’t just be limited to the capital. It can be driven from all over the country, all you need are the right conditions,” Kayfar informs Spice.
“This helped us as a business to get better ratings in the corporate scene as well as opened doors for local acts. Local artistes now know they have someone they can rely on to promote their new products and we also know how to deal with them,” he adds.
With the changing landscape now tilting towards growth, local artistes have found a platform or networks needed to reach out to Nairobi-based artistes, producers and media, who are not easily accesible.
“A number of artistes have used this to their advantage, take the likes of Nassizu Murume, who got nationwide coverage. Or High Pitch Band — when they did a cover for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s award-winning hit, Despacito, we sat down and planned how we would create a little momentum and when the sails caught wind, it opened doors for them getting airplay the world over. The pair were also hosted on the Churchill Show due to public demand,” Kayfar adds.
When touring Jamaican artistes Dondeman and Natty King visited 254 in 2016, the former worked with Maafleva’s finest, Kiminta on the song African Girl. Two years later, when the pair came back to 254, Maafleva Entertainment hosted them in Narok and Kajiado counties in a collaborative initiative dubbed MaaJam.
“Since Maafleva started hosting gigs in Narok, the party scene has changed for the better,” says David Ochy, popularly known as Big Daddy in entertainment circles. He intimated business opportunities have risen for local artistes as they are able to get more gigs as well as sessions where they mingle with already established stars.
“Most of our young patrons coming from satellite or universities are not just from that locality, but from other parts of the country. They are able to meet with industry stakeholders like media personalities, and just recently we had two participate in MaaJam Season Two, which will see them drop a number of collabos with the Jamaican stars,” he adds.
Bullying from the big boys
Despite the seemingly glossy affair at the grassroots, there remains a number of challenges affecting the blistering growth with the common denominator being bullying by the big boys. Since established acts have entrenched their tentacles into the boardrooms, when it comes to spending big money on local gigs, agencies and mainstream industry players play middlemen on the deals.
“Everyone was excited when Machawood was established by the County government of Machakos, however, the bureaucracy in accessing equipment has been a bottleneck.
One goes through a tiring process before they can access some of these resources. Again, when we have gigs organised from the capital, the middlemen take the lion’s share, leaving the creatives peanuts,” laments Edward Ondari, who runs Machakos Creatives, an entity that deals with creatives around Machakos county, and has a membership of over 700.
Glimmer of hope
Rome wasn’t built in a day — a consolation many take refuge in. With more young people going to the countryside to further their education, so does Helb money and sponsors trickle down to the grassroots.
Sooner or later, this spending spree will fan the growth needed and as for entertainment scene, it is the hope of many the millions the county government loses, find its way to the right pockets, that is, the creatives.