“Africa Nouveau is an annual 3 days 3 nights arts and music festival congregating creators, curators and fans of Africa cool from Africa and its Diaspora, ” Management. This year, the event was being held from the 8th-10th March 2019, at the Ngong Race Course, Nairobi, Kenya. I was really looking forward to attending it after seeing and hearing about it in 2018, thus it was on my bucket list for 2019. As I started preparing to attend it, I learnt that its Theme for 2019 was “Africans and Outer World Beings” and this just heightened my resolve to attend, to learn a bit more what the the theme could actually mean. Take a walk with me, as I share my highlights and learning points from the festival.
First up, I have to touch on the “Afro Bubblegum Philosophy” which states that, “African art can be fun, fierce, fantastical and frivolous, with no other aim but to increase joy” that resonated all over the festival before and during the festival. The creative team needs a big round of applause for aptly incorporating this in all their artworks from their communication in posters, installations and art placements at the grounds.
Secondly, the entertainment selection from 8 countries was also top notch. More so, I liked that they mainly selected upcoming artists, which means we got to see and enjoy new music. These artists did not come to “pass time”, they did not come to “have a show”, they came to share their music, their art and themselves with all of us. I watched as entertainment outfits like Batuk from South Africa had us singing and dancing to their music while DJs like Cortega from Switzerland and Boddhi Satva from Central African Republic had us dancing to their great mixes. Even for the acts I did not personally get to see, I have had the chance to see videos of Buruntuma from Guinea Bissau and others not holding back, they were indeed keeping to the “Afrobubblegum philosophy”
Thirdly, I definitely have to touch on the fashion. Most attendees seemed to have taken extra time to really think through their outfit. Do not get me wrong, there was no dress code but, you could easily notice those who took extra time in creating their “look” . There are those who even took extra time to make sure their look resonated with the theme, “Africans and outer world beings”. I think the beauty of festivals and more so artistic festivals is , it allows you to be you or take up any persona you wish. Judgements are limited if any and thus I saw very confident men and women, pulling off “fashion looks” that honestly, you will not see on a day to day.
Forth, there was something for everyone. If music is your interest, they offered non-stop music from 25 live performances from 8 countries , as well as DJs who had some amazing mixes that kept people on their toes. If gaming is your interest, they had gaming areas as well as installations that showcased various art pieces that were just a beauty and definitely fashion from clothes to jewellery were on display. I was also really happy with the wide selection of pocket friendly food, beverages and drinks.
Fifth, the festival is for everyone, regardless of your race, status, nationality etc. This festival felt like a melting pot, a little “United Nations” with people coming together for the sheer joy of appreciating African music and Art. My artistic self who at times is kept under wraps, was encouraged to peek ouside the “shell”, to push my limits, to let my “artistic inner being thrive”. You will be seeing a lot of her from now on.
Sixth, I have to definitely give a big shout out to Charge Bar. How many times have you been at a festival or function, you want to take a picture or make an urgent call and right then, your phone dies. These guys offered a safe charging bar where one selected a safe deposit box, keyed in their private pin, paid Ksh.100 for one hour charging and you could go enjoy yourself to only collect it after 1hour. My people, I definitely used it and recommend all event and festival hosts to ensure they have this at all functions .
Africa Nouveau Festival, you get a thumbs up from me. Thank you for the amazing platform that you offered artists in nearly all sectors. Thank you for giving a helping hand to new and upcoming artists, by providing them an amazing platform to share their art. Thank you for offering your attendees a platform that allowed them to be themselves, to be free to just be, without feeling judged or otherwise. Thank You to your entire team for the amazing work, I know it was not easy, but, you nailed it on showcasing “African art can be fun, fierce, fantastical and frivolous, with no other aim but to increase joy”. I encourage all of you reading this , to join and incorporate the Afrobubblegum phylosophy in your day to day life.