The MAMAs in Mombasa

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MTV_Z_Awards_779188786.jpgSeptember 23,

With less than 3 weeks to the MTV Africa Music Awards with Zain (MAMA), Kenyan music fans are preparing for this grand event, which will be held at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani, on the 10th of October 2009.

A concert, dubbed “The Road to Mamas”, was a curtain-raiser last Saturday, at the Havana club in Mombasa. Kenyan artists Wahu, her husband Nameless, STL and Amani have been nominated.

The event was well organized. I actually thought the venue for the event was going to be too small for the expected crowd, but to my surprise, the preparations made turned out to be more than adequate.

Scheduled to kick off at 9 pm, the significantly low turn-out kept the event from getting underway until much later (1am). Still, this wasn’t going to stop the very eager music lovers, who had so punctually congregated at the venue hours earlier. There isn’t enough opportunity to witness the heavyweights of Kenyan music live in concert.

The concert eventually kicked off seamlessly to much cheering, without so much as condescending to an opening act.

Amani took to stage the first, and over the loud cheers from her fans at the front, managed to perform one of her old numbers. She then mixed things up by dropping her brand new single, “Tonight”, to the expectant crowd. The following mid-tempo jam, featuring Nyashinski, slowed down the tempo just a little, giving the crowd the opportunity to show of their prowess on the dance floor.

Wahu stole many hearts, as always, with her two popular jams, “Sweet Love” and “Empty”, which were clearly some of the crowd’s favorites. She performed beautifully, first seeing off those memorable jams like “Kibau Wau” and “Sitishiki”. The former demanded some body-shaking, and soon loosened even the stiffest customers, and making way for the dance party to begin in earnest.
DJ Delph had fans screaming excitedly when he announced that Nameless was next.

As expected, Nameless drew the loudest cheers, as he took to the stage, greeting the room with the opening line, “Karibia” to which the crowd cried “Usiogope” in response. Fans quickly crowded the very front of the stage.

He proceeded to give an electric performance, his voice and unadulterated sizzling energy, showcasing his skill in a number of medleys. The crowd ate it up unreservedly. He then served up some of his trademark dance routines as he sang his collaboration with the late E-sir, Maisha, rousing the fans further (if possible!)

The artist ended the show with the sweet mellow tunes of his latest release “Sunshine”…but he may as well have sub-contracted the crowd to do his job, as it was clear they knew every word and beat by heart! He left them crying out for more, and impatiently waiting for another serving, at the MAMA Awards next month. He didn’t omit, however, to ask them to begin voting for their favourite artists, via the SMS numbers that were being displayed on the big screen right adjacent to the stage.

So was this a good show? Yes, certainly. There may not have been fireworks going off, and there was an unexpectedly low attendance, but what I remember about it is the ecstatic energy that filled the Havana club. And that’s enough.

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