Many a times, Machakos never disappoints in throwing events of international stature. From footbal to mega parties to the ever (in)famous Masaku 7s, machakos is surely the place to be. As expected, easter of 2017 was celebrated BIG and WIDE around Machakos. People from other counties could be seen flocking in as early as 6am once the weekend kicked in. On Easter Sunday, the taste of Machakos culture and talent was put into litmus test as narrated through the eyes and ears of Muindi Kisio and edited by Mwl. Gregg Tendwa. 

The Machakos Talanta festival team, drawn from the larger Machakos Creatives Group, with support from Machawood Machakos, had organized the second edition of this talent bonanza. Artists from across Machakos County arrived dressed in unique fashions and designs. The Yellow color, a ‘favorite yet conspicuous” accessory  associated with Kambas was in plenty in most of the outfits. And to mark the day, Machakos people’s park was the place to be.

Around 2pm, the stage was firing up to the legendary tunes of Ken Wa Maria Benga hit song – fundamentals – it could be heard playing at far background from the DJs desk. Mc Mike took stage to direct the audiences on how the event would flow. The weather stayed true to a confirmation from the weather man that it would not rain during the day.

The categories for the event span across Rap for both male and female artists, spoken word and dance competitions. It looks like hip-hop is the in thing here, save for a lone guitarist from Tala Kangundo who got less than 2 minutes on stage, over 20 rappers were battling it out on stage. One by one, the rappers took to the stage to showcase how prepared they were for the competition, followed by spoken word lyricists.

Across town on the vantage view of Katehya-Katheka Kai neighborhood, in memory of Emmanuel Makori, the comedian popularly known as Ayeyia who died in a grisly road accident the week preceding Easter, Ubunifu Hub Machakos staged a comedy play dubbed – “Kisululu Kii Vo” – the bicycle is missing. Laced with puns of a drunken husband who finds his bicycle missing, fans were treated to his powerlessness while finding the missing bike in the hands of his wife who is on a revenge mission.

At the Talanta festival, you could observe the sheer determination among all artists that took to stage. However, events of this magnitude do not go without challenges.  Several participants complained about the disorganization prevalent in the previous and present editions. Others felt that a proper talent showcase needs better metrics for judges and floor managers who ensure that each performer is given equal opportunity. Others are unsure about the incentives that come after the showcase, especially in harnessing talent development for those who don’t make it to the top.
After all categories had performed, the judges pulled out to announce the finalists. But before they could do so, the chairperson of Machakos Creatives Group, Edward Ndari took to the podium to thank all participants, individuals and organizations that had made the day a success. He further highlighted some of the challenges aspiring artists are going through. He also applauded the measures Machakos county government has laid through the Machawood program in identifying, nurturing, producing and growing talent in the county.

Shortly after his remarks, the envelopes for winners in each category were……OUT…. And the winner for the male category was none other than Kapnea while for the female category was Vera. Spoken word category was scooped by Junior.

Inspired by the level of talent showcased, the Ubunifu Hub in Machakos is working on an elaborate talent development program to increase appreciation for live music performance. In partnership with US based Global Youth Groove, Ubunifu will be conducting the first Bring Back Live Music Bootcamp in May 2017, facilitated by John Udulele.

Hip hop, Reggae, Ragga and Dancehall artists are encouraged to apply to be part of the bootcamp. These sessions will focus on stuff that most emerging artists struggle with, including singing in Key, building Harmony, Metre in Music, simple to complex Rhythm and the most importantly, keeping time. Interested participants should apply through his link. Use the hashtags #BBLM to follow this conversation.

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“The greatest change agents in the world are the people in the Arts and Culture community of every nation”. Muindi Kisio – When He Spots, he writes. #Culture&Arts.

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