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Photo: Idd Nashid.

This Is What Nairobi's 'Africa Nouveau' Festival Looked Like

The Africa Nouveau Festival could not have come at a better time to ease tensions amid Kenya's political climate.

"The things that politics can't do, music can do."

Those were the words of Kenyan artist Muthoni Drummer Queen at a press conference prior to the commencement of the long-awaited Africa Nouveau Festival. The powerful statement came amid the irresolute political climate in the country after opposition leader Raila Odinga declared himself in President in a makeshift swearing in ceremony.


At times like this when the country could easily be divided, music is one of the few things that are effective in bringing people together. With that said, the Africa Nouveau festival could not have come at a better time.

This time the vibrant festival was a two day/two night affair and featured varied African acts from Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, DRC and Sao Tome E Principe.

The theme of the festival this year was "AfroBubbleGum," a term coined to describe the fun, fierce and fantastical music, fashion or art created for the love of it. "AfroBubbleGum" calls out to the African creative who has long been constricted within the bounds of agenda art.

Photo: Idd Nashid.

The festival also served as a base for different fashion installations and pop-up stores and also featured a live look book leading up to a digitally distributed fashion magazine showcasing both creatives and attendees. Also included were film screenings of remarkable films and artistic works from African filmmakers or digital artists.

With all the sights, sounds and experiences this festival offered, you could say that a dynamic community of creators, curators and fans was formed over a two day period as everyone congregated to celebrate and enjoy progressive forms of music and art coming out of the continent.

It kicked off on February 2 with a number of rising stars from the region jump-starting the festival and setting the pace for the rest of the weekend. Nairobi's finest afro-house DJ Suraj delivered a lengthy but magical set of melodic and bass-lead tunes. Tunji, Shukid and Steph Kapela murdered the stage with their popular afro-trap renditions. With such a fine line-up to boot, the festival was off to a solid start.

Makadem. Photo: Idd Nashid.


On Saturday, we basked in the greatness of some of our favorite alternative acts such as Blinky Bill and festival founder Muthoni Drummer Queen who put on awe-inspiring shows to say the least.

Make no mistake, all the cool and trendy kids of Nairobi showed up for the extravaganza on Sunday as the festival climaxed. Makadem and the Electrique Bengaloo gave a tasteful performance of folk and benga sounds from Kenya all the way to Zanzibar. And our very own DJ Cortega delivered a dance-ready afrobeat set that got everyone on their feet.

The build up to Kwesta's headline performance was intense.When the rapper finally emerged adorned in traditional Maasai attire the crowd completely lost it. His lively renditions of "Ngud" and "Spirit" coupled with his captivating stage presence got everyone singing along as much as they could.

These photos capture some of the highlights on the stage as well as on the festival grounds. All photos by Idd Nashid.

Photo: Idd Nashid.

Photo: Idd Nashid.

Photo: Idd Nashid.

Photo: Idd Nashid.

DJ Cortega. Photo: Idd Nashid.

Photo: Idd Nashid.

Kwesta. Photo: Idd Nashid.

Kwesta. Photo: Idd Nashid.

Kwesta. Photo: Idd Nashid.


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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kofi Annan, Has Died

The celebrated Ghanaian humanitarian and the first black African to serve as head of the UN, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. "His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days," read a family statement. He was 80.

Annan was the first black African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. "I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn't stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said in 2006.

Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

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Janet Jackson Returns With Afrobeats-Inspired Song & Video 'Made For Now' Featuring Daddy Yankee

The icon's latest is a nod to the sound, fashion and culture of the diaspora.

Ms. Jackson is back.

The iconic artist returns with her first single since the release of her 2015 album Unbreakable, and it's a timely nod to the "made for now" influence of afrobeats fashion, sound and culture.

On "Made For Now," which features Puerto Rican reggaeton titan Daddy Yankee, Janet Jackson does what she's done successfully so many times throughout her decades-long career: provide an infectious, party-worthy tune that's fun and undeniably easy to dance to. "If you're living for the moment, don't stop," Jackson sings atop production which fuses dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeats.

The New York-shot music video is just as lively, filled with eye-catching diasporic influences, from the wax-print ensembles and beads both Janet and her dancers wear to the choreographed afrobeats-tinged dance numbers, which see the dancers hitting the Shoki at one point in the video. The train of dancers travel throughout the streets of Brooklyn, taking over apartment buildings and rooftops with spirited moves.

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You Need to Hear Juls' New Single 'Saa Ara'


New hip-hop and highlife grooves from the celebrated UK-based Ghanaian producer.

By merging the diverse influence of growing up in Accra and East London, Juls has managed to cultivate a hybrid afrobeats style that has set him apart from the rest.

For his latest single, "Saa Ara," he teams up with award-winning rapper Kwesi Arthur and gifted lyricist Akan.

The brilliant fusion of vintage highlife instrumentals and booming hip-hop beats, along with Kwesi Arthur's lively chorus and Akan's fiery delivery gives the song a very spiritual and classical feel.

Soothe your soul this weekend with these tasteful sounds from Juls.

Listen to "Saa Ara" by Juls featuring Kwesi Arthur and Akan below.

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