Tandawazi Festival thrills Nairobi culture club


December 6, 2010 – Most people who saw the Tandawazi adverts over the past week were asking ‘what is that’?

The same applied to me and about 40% of the Kenyan population whose grasp of the Swahili language is slightly challenged.

Well, basically it means, ‘boundless’; not being confined to anything. And this particular festival focussed on just that with reference to dance, music, and martial arts.

“It’s about merging the various kinds of cultures that we have, and celebrating them,” said Priya Chana, who was managing the festival.

The main attraction at this year’s inaugural edition of Tandawazi was the Brazilian form of martial arts dance better known as Capoeira.

Brian Owango, who is the master in Kenya, had maestros coming from all over the world to join in and support the festival, where proceeds would go towards an initiative called Project Baraza.

“The objective for Project Baraza is to build or refurbish community centres and youth centres in underprivileged communities. The one we have been working on now is Ongoza Njia Community Centre in Huruma. We want to build another storey on the centre to make room for the youth who come for Capoeira.”

For the record, “Capoeira is a 400-year-old Afro-Brazilian martial art that was created by African slaves in Brazil. It combines music, movement, expression and community to purvey a physically and spiritually impactful experience to the individual”.


If you hear the music played when Capoeira is being danced you might think its an ethereal chant for a human sacrifice mission. Probably the slaves came up with the music to keep the foreigners away. One wrong move when doing the dance could prove fatal, so the skill showcased at the Festival was top notch and for the kids who took part, promising.

“What causes crime in slum areas is idle time. When we engage these kids in this form of dance we give them something to do. In between the classes we talk to them about life and crime and why it’s important for them to do the right thing,” adds Brian.

The venue was the Kenya National Museum, and there were live performances by Maia Von Lekuow, Kaz, Sauti Sol and Kanjii Mbugua.

Women danced with their kids, men smoked shisha and the couple of hundred people that came sat on the grass facing the well lit stage.

“We didn’t get the support we were hoping for but it’s the first time. We know Tandawazi 2011 will be much bigger,” says Priya.

Kaz hyped up the crowd with her latest track, where she talked about the time her naked pictures were circulated on the internet.

“I wrote it two years ago, but didn’t release it. I felt now was the right time,” she told Capital Lifestyle.


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