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Ethnic theme nights losing their flair in Nairobi

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There was once a time when Nairobi residents would look forward to their community’s theme nights. The thrill brought by the likes of Luo Festival, Mugithi Night, Mulembe Night and Esagasaga Night just to mention but a few was truly one of a kind but not anymore.

Most of these theme nights were hosted at Carnivore Restaurant and you would be surprised to find members of the same community living in Nairobi and surrounding areas filling up the venue.

Revelers were treated to music from prominent musicians from their community. It was also an opportunity to partake of traditional foods and liquor.

If it was Esagasaga Night, for instance, musicians and bands such as Bonyakoni Kirwanda, Machoge B. Kings, Ontiri Bikundo, Sabby Okengo, Abana Sungusia, Abagosabusia Extra, Embarambamba and Mr Ongengo would feature.

If it was the Luo Festival, you got to be entertained by top acts such as Dola Kabarry, Lady Maureen, Akodhe, John Junior, Suzane Owiyo, Kengekenge and Makadem.

Some of the theme nights also consisted of beauty pageants.

But these are just but memories now. It has been more than a minute since a theme night was hosted at Carnivore. Most of them have been pushed to upcountry clubs and hotels ever since devolution kicked in or in bars located in estates such as Egesa in Umoja.

Speaking to Business Today, Vuuka FM presenter Joseph Kantona said that the reason these theme nights are rarely held at the city is that the organisers want to bring the experience closer to the fans, the real fans. Despite Nairobi residents attending the traditional theme nights in large numbers, the die hard traditionalists reside away from the city.

“We wanted to go closer to our listeners by moving the theme nights up country. We still hold them in Nairobi but we do that rarely,” Kantona remarked.

The last time the Luo Festival was held at Carnivore, for example, was in 2017. The 2018 edition was held at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu with corporates based in the lakeside city sponsoring it.

Luhyas have not attended Mulembe night at Carnivore since 2013 and neither have Kikuyus attended Mugithi Night. Before the recent Chamgei Night at Carnivore, the event had been missed the most by its perennial attendees who live in the city as it had been hosted at Carnivore last in 2011. Kambas have not seen Musyi Night in Nairobi since 2012.

People leave their homes to come to the city to eke for a living but everyone gets homesick at times. Before you disregard the importance of tribal theme nights, remember the last time you were homesick and how it felt. Theme nights reduce the feeling of missing home as they are aimed at making you feel closer to your people and their culture. They brought the whole village experience to the city.

Believe it or not, there are people who travel upcountry for these events after they stopped being hosted in the capital city. It is evident that the thrill you get in a theme night cannot be compared to other events because they are designed specifically to connect you to your culture.

As much as we are fighting tribalism in the country, it is important to know how to contrast tribalism and having knowledge about one’s roots. In fact, even people from other communities used to attend them. As they say, there is unity in diversity.

Perhaps, the other reason why theme nights are seldom held in the city is the high fees that hosts demand from the organisers. An employee at Royal Media Services, who is part of the organisers of theme nights said that they stopped hosting them at Carnivore because the club was demanding outrageous fees. Kenya’s top comedy show, Churchill Show also moved away from Carnivore because of the same reason.

“Carnivore was becoming too expensive so we opted to look for other venues to host these events. They are still there but just not at Carnivore which might be the reason fans don’t hear about them often,” the RMS employee, who did not want to named, told a Business Today in a phone interview.

Read:KCB places bid to buy National Bank through a share swap

Our efforts to get Carnivore management to comment on the matter bore no fruits.

It is not that theme nights have disappeared completely, they just rarely occur in Nairobi.





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