Oliver Mtukudzi rocks the Koroga Festival

Oliver Mtukudzi
Oliver Mtukudzi

The Koroga Festival is fast becoming the event to go and watch some of the best live music in Nairobi. The event is hosted on the first Sunday of the month every two months at the Arboretum Grounds and has hosted some really cool African artists. Some of these include Baba Maal, Simphiwe Dana and Salif Keita.

This Sunday, yesterday, it was the turn of Oliver Mtukudzi to give a live to his many Nairobi fans one of who I count myself. When the Sunday broke there was a concern that there would be some of the dreaded rain that we have been experiencing in recent times that have been wrecking havoc. It had rained on Saturday night but fortunately the day was better and by the afternoon we were enjoying a sunny day in our nation’s capital.

The Arboretum was filled to the brim with folks out to meet and greet and enjoy what was on offer. I enjoyed meeting folks like Blinky Bill of Just A Band, Chris Adwar of The Villagers fame, Diana Opoti of 100 days of African Fashion fame, Rayhab Gachango of Potentash fame, Paul Munene of Quaint Photography… I can go on all day.

There were many performances there at the muddy grounds of the Arboretum that we should really refer to as Matopeni in honour of the old Vioja Mahakamani show. The most memorable of these for me was a set that was done by Octopizzo (yes, that’s really his name) alongside Just-A-Band.

A few minutes before 5pm the legend himself came on stage with his band; a fellow guitarist, a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer as well as a girl on background vocals aka BGVs.

The show started at a slow pace with the instruments somehow while being European giving a very distinctively African feel. I don’t know how that band did it but I could feel it in my bones. Here. * points to gut*

As we were dancing to the music I would look around and there was a huge number of folks singing alongside to his songs. Its times like these that made you realise how international Nairobi is as well as just how big the Zimbabwean population here is. I had a blast as I was explained to by my Zimbabwean partner as each song came; this one is about a father who promises to buy his daughter Pata pata slippers from Bata to congratulate her on her marriage, this one about this, this one is about this. Even though I didn’t understand what he was saying it was a world class performance I was enjoying in that tent in the Arboretum.

As he would sing and play the guitar and sing in his signature deep voice he would pause to dance and jump making me have to google to confirm that I was watching a 63 year old man perform. If I could dance like him at fourty five for almost two hours I would be a happy man.

At one point he strummed a few keys and every single Kenyan went wild. The song he had started singing was Todii the one song we are all familiar with. So you can be sure to hear my relatives happily sing along as soon as we here the chorus;

Hooo todini, senzeni, what shall we do
What shall we do , tingadii
Senzenjani, what shall we do, what shall we do

A funny thing. When I asked some of my colleagues what the song just before doing this blog their answer was, “its about todi, what shall we do.” Well the song is about a subject that will surprise many Kenyans; its an advocacy song for HIV/AIDS. Yep. If you go to this link you will get the English translation in this website you will realise what the song is about. Here is a section of the lyrics with the Shona on the left and the English translation on the right after the /

Zvinorwadza sei kurera rufu mumaoko/ how painful it is to look after someone u know is gonna die
Kana uinawo utachiwana/ when they have AIDS
Zvinorwadza sei kuchengeta rufu mumaoko/ this person has gotten something that will lead to their death
Kana uinawo utachiwana/ when they have AIDS
Bva zvamabata pamuviri pasina raramo / death has been made manifest
Kana uinawo utachiwana / when they have AIDS
Bva zvapatumbuka pamuviri pasina raramo / this is a condition that will not spare them
Kana uinawo utachiwana / when they have AIDS

Even though many aren’t aware of what the song is about we all sang along to the song like our lives depended on it. The only weird thing was his stage exit; he was performing when he strolled of stage and never came back.

After this I took off but having spent an amazing afternoon have have listened to some of the best music my continent has to offer. Yes, I’ll be back, Koroga.

Check out images from the gig from Quaint Photography.

>> Previous Koroga Blogs

:: Simphiwe Dana rocks Nairobi big time

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