Arts + Culture

Just A Band's Guide to Nairobi

Just A Band Nairobi City Guide. Mbithi and Blinky Bill discuss the best spots in Nairobi, Kenya.

Photo: BoomBoomChik

Our City Guide series features favorite artists of ours sharing the best spots to hit up in their hometowns. For this latest edition we figured who better to drop knowledge on Nairobi than Kenya's Just A Band — whose future-disco-house noisemaking has been known to tear off many a roof. Below, Mbithi and Blinky Bill, run down the best places to hang out in Nairobi.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Best Record Store:

Mbithi and Bill from Just a Band: We don't know his name but there's a guy in Kenyatta Market who sells records from everywhere — as a bonus, his stall is right next to the Nyama Choma!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Best Concert Venue:

JAB: Carnivore — One of our oldest concert venues and it's still rock solid.

*Carnivore Gardens' Blankets & Wine monthly series.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Best Night Spot/Club:

JAB: Frankie's, which is in The Greenhouse at Adams Arcade.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Best Restaurant:

JAB: G&R serves up the best stews in Nairobi.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Best Date Spot:

JAB: Uhuru and Central Parks. Pedal boats and fountains yo!

*Catch views of Uhuru Park in the video for Just A Band's "Dunia Ina Mambo."

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Best Drink to have while in town:

JAB: Sierra Blonde. Microbrewery beer that's just the best!

*Photo by Kenya Buzz.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

For more from Just A Band check out their Africa In Your Earbuds mixtape and the Just A Band x Go Dreamer Player Xchange. Catch up on City Guides from Alec Lomami [Kinshasa], Christian Tiger School [Cape Town], Bombino [U.S. Touring], and Blitz the Ambassador [NYC].

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.