Kenya, thank Germany for beer and music!

A lot of Kenyans feel a kinship with Germany because of the love for beer that also runs deep in many a Kenyans’ veins. However, a not-so-new partnership is bearing truckloads of fruits, begging the question – where has all this talent been hiding?

October is dedicated to beer around the world thanks to Germany, and all sorts of beer flavours are chugged, hugged and celebrated, even in Kenya.

Thanks to Goethe Institute, not only is the German language celebrated, but also the art, culture and music from our motherland, Kenya.

The kind of art, culture and music that is poor in cash but rich in creative genius.

One of the spawns of this unofficial partnership kicked off in 2009, BLNRB (Berlin-Nairobi).


“The idea was as simple as it was complex at the same time. Berlin and Nairobi musicians would record and perform together on a long term basis. Two studios were established in a townhouse in Nairobi, where all BLNRB artists worked, performed and lived together. After concerts in Nairobi and Berlin, the long awaited CD is out!” That’s the official description of BLNRB.

Animation Director Bobb Muchiri is responsible for creating a music-mentary (showing music’s effect on a population) called Kichwateli. Using Studio Ang, he crafted a work of art that was shot in Kibera and the Nairobi CBD, and released last week. It features Just A Band, Maasai Mbili and Modeselektor.


Still using Just A Band, photographer Philippa Ndisi who is half-Kenyan, half-German (the irony) released her video Room For Me. It features a series of accelerated photographs and includes a celebrity by the name John Sibi Okumu.

Within the same project there are several other examples of sterling creativity. For lovers of art and music who are craving more professionalism and a level of individuality (i.e. everyone), this is worth a watch.

Considering the amount of support upcoming musicians get from foreign owned companies, diplomatic missions, and projects overseas, one can only wonder where the Kenyan muscle is.

Instead of handing out cash to our ‘next generation’ of leaders to secure your welfare in the future, those with deep pockets should consider a more sublime message – music.

“We want to replace the stereotype of a war-torn, hungry and poverty stricken Africa with a realistic picture: that of dynamic and highly creative urban cultures which in their own way adapt to international developments and propagate themselves – and give back to the international scene,” says Goethe-Institute Nairobi.

The project is organized and trusteed by Goethe-Institute Nairobi and the Teichmann brothers, a Berlin DJ- and musician duo. The House of World Cultures is a project partner.

Other participants are Modeselektor, Berlin-based multinational trio Jahcoozi and MC Sasha Perera from London, Robot Koch from Berlin and Oren Gerlitz from Tel Aviv.

From Kenya we have Ukoo Flani, Abbas, Kimya, Lon’Jon, Just a Band and Lydia Mwango among others.

As part of the project this year, 11 different film and music directors were approached and commissioned to come up with videos for these amazing collaborations. And once Hawa Essuman, Boomba Video, Rich Pictures, Circle & Square, Cultural Video Foundation, DYMK, Sam Hopkins, Just A Band, Dream Awake Pro, Studio Ang and Philippa (Ndisi) Herrmann are done, their work will be presented together.

The music CD will be in stores soon, but at the moment it is available at the Goethe-Institute Nairobi. The tunes are good for playing in the background when cooking, reading or dreaming up your future.

Go here for more information.

Give me a good tune and I’ll tell you what it says, even if the language is foreign to me.

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