Mother Teresa once said “Spread love everywhere you go, First of all in your own house…”
But then again what is love? We all have different definitions but agree that real Love exists to serve others. On that lovey dovey note came the Mavuno “Spread the Love” Festival. A festival like no other held before on Kenyan soil – the first East African gospel festival.
Kirk Franklin returned to Nairobi last Saturday 12th September for what is slated to have been undoubtedly the biggest Gospel concert of 2009 yet. This all-day extravaganza not only featured this multi-award winning artist, it also roped in the who’s who of urban Gospel music from East Africa. All this, courtesy of Mavuno Church and Kijiji Records. Other sponsors who came to support this worthy cause included Mo Sounds, Resolution Health, and Royal Media services.
The Mavuno “Spread the Love” concert was an initiative of the Mavuno church. Proceeds from this event will go towards equipping the Industrial Area Remand Prison with beds for all the prisoners.
I must give a thumbs up to the organizers of this event, for they pulled it off very smoothly.
The lineup of artists was just the best. Big Kenyan gospel names were on the list, along with those of upcoming artists.
Although they are still the new kids on the block, the winners of the KTN’s dance show “Can You Dance?”, Dance 316, showed the crowd that they had deserved their win. If the stage could talk, it would have complained about the pounding these two gave it.
Dressed in white and red was the Chit Chat group, another notable performance of the day. The energy of their dance moves blended together with their strong voices just kept the crowd bumping.
Julini, oozing with energy, led the crowd in bopping its heads to his current hit song ‘Hela’. I felt as if my head would actually fly off my body. “Pia mi hucry kwa Christ pia mi majua maume si biceps…” the crowd was on its feet chanting along to the lyrics. He then diverted a bit from gospel to political issues, by engaging the crowd in singing along to the ‘Mteja’ song. I was actually surprised at how the ladies standing next to me were singing word by word to this song.
He had just set the right energy for the artist of the day. Even before the emcee of the day announced the entry of Kirk Franklin, the crowd was chanting his name impatiently, as they had been waiting for the past 6 hours.
Supported by his back up singers, together with his band, Kirk Franklin’s performance was breathtaking. His boundless energy, clever crowd involvement and his ability to switch gears (from the mic to the keyboard) without losing the crowd make him appealing on many fronts. Not to mention his bevy of radio-friendly hit singles.
With the bumping beats and highly charged crowd, the ground felt as if it were quaking. Without losing an iota of energy, he took the audience from uptempo jams such as ‘Lovely Day’ and ‘September’ to the chilled out ‘My Life Is In Your Hands’, ‘Hold Me Now’ and ‘Love’. By the time he was performing the hit ‘Imagine Me’, he had the crowd eating from his hand. At this point the tempo had cooled off a bit giving way to praise and worship time. Kirk tried his hand at singing this song in Swahili and I must say he is a first learner. “Kwaheri, kwaheri, kwaheri…” He led the crowd into singing the chorus of the now remixed Swahili version of the song.
He then led the crowd into a very emotional prayer session such that some of the people in the crowd were left in tears. But the worship session kept rolling on and on. The banging Hossana effortlessly led the crowd into a full, no holes barred worship session, with popular choruses. As the tempo picked up again, all the hits were pulled out of the top drawer. ‘Brighter Day’, ‘Stomp’, ‘Revolution’, and many more. Kirk even got random dancers from the audience to teach him Kenyan dances.
And before anyone even noticed it, Kirk had performed almost 20 songs, and was heading off to the airport. Totally awesome!!
Now, one would have anticipated the crowd energy to dissipate after Kirk left. But in what is a fantastic endorsement of the growth and appreciation of the local gospel industry, the crowd hardly budged.
Shortly after Kirk came MOG, whose ‘Zing Zing’ and ‘Let Them Go’ sent the place into a frenzy. Jimmie Gait is always a delight, and he was followed by the immensely popular duo of Holy Dave and Eko Dida of the ‘Niko Na Reason’ fame. The hosts closed out the evening in fine style, with the Mavuno Worship project, supported by acts like Kanjii, Neema, Atemi and also Isaac Rucci of Limit X.
Hats off to the Mavuno Church and their team for engineering what is likely to be a crazy annual event. Can anyone say “2nd Annual Mavuno Spread The Love Festival”?