[This blog was written by Prince Papa from the 350 Kenya team]
It is on a Friday, and after several weeks of planning, meetings, phone calls, short messages within and from outside Kenya I arrive at the Kenya national Theater! By this time I am sure that I have done enough to make the day a success. I had relied on volunteerism and passionate spirit of fellow Kenyan climate champions and friends to plan for this day. (To you all those volunteers, we at 350 Kenya say thank you).
This place has been my home for years. This is where I discovered my talent as a music, dance and theater artist. This is also where I experienced the early stages of Arts and activism development. Therefore this place holds a lot of my past. A lot of friends too! This is the Kenya National Theater! Today I am here, for the Kenya Climate Concert!
Kenya Climate Concert was organized by 350 Kenya alongside its partners (AYICC, GWIAN, Visionaries Aloud, Abakisimba Music, TLC4 Environment). This was part of the www.350Africa.org Regional Week Of Action (RWA), which covered a number of campaigns across Africa and the Arab World.
Kenya Climate Concert was a concert of its kind: was an event organized by artists to the public. This was a one special event in which 45 artists took part as performers and organizers for the event. The artists came out of their comfort zones and created new shows: the poets, the musicians, the puppeteers, the dancers, the graffiti artists all created new artistic pieces dedicated to the planet. All these expressions touched on the urgency needed to fight climate change! They touched on the need to leave fossil fuels to where it belongs: under the ground! In addition, the artists called on the audience and the general public to not only take a front line in fighting climate change but also challenged the citizens to hold their governments, state corporations and people in power accountable for their actions.
David Wainaina while addressing the audience stressed on the point, “Climate Change is man-made and we should not expect the people who created it to lead us in fighting it!”
As the performances by these artists progressed it was clear that the message was well reaching home! I could feel the energy from the creative words, from the moving images, from the deeply engaged audience, from the several interludes of speeches! The energy was evenly distributed under the cloudless sky within the confines of the Kenya National Theater. Everything seemed to me like a whole big sheep sailing with the passengers on board, with passengers confidently trusting the captain’s ability to sail the vessel safely to its destination! It was merry being here: if one was not laughing, one was nodding and if one was not deeply thinking, one was clapping! The coolest moments came when everybody was on their feet, dancing to the environment in a gesture to take the 450 ppm back to 350 ppm and below!
In Kenya we have a dance style called “Twist”. Louisa Chinyavu, a volunteer with 350 Kenya while explaining to the audience the meaning of 350 ppm employed her creativity in (twist) a dance move that sprung the public to their feet!
Louissa Chinyavu noted, “You cannot fight climate change while on your seats and comfort zones! You need to stand up tall and on your feet! You need to make people act! And they must act now! You need to use your whole body and whatever you have to influence the government and policy makers to come up with good implementable environmental laws!”
To release the tension and bring back that consciousness to greater but simpler understandable levels, Tear Drops, a poet reading from a rolled tissue paper bombed the audience with a punch line,
“If it is not environmentally friendly, then it is not mentally friendly.”
While analyzing this punch line by poet Tear Drops I would also think on the same line that climate change deniers and contributors might be in an urgent and dire need of psychological help!
On this Friday music was lovely! We did not have sophisticated drum set and modern band setups and neither did we have a modern stage for the artists! Given that we are in Africa and need African solutions within our communities, African drums is all you could see lined up on the open ground stage! These drums, when played produced divine tunes and moved the spirit of the audience. Every single performance was backed up by an African beat to lift you higher.
An artist and a drummer James Madegwa while addressing the audience said,
“For us to continue playing African drums (BINGI) then we need to take care of our forests! We need to plant more trees; fruit trees as well as indigenous trees. From these trees we get fruits and make drums from the old ones! These trees are also the source of our medicine“
Anyone who was part of the audience did not want this Friday to end! What better thing would you want to do on a Friday evening better than being entertained, enlightened and connected with the lovers of the universe? What else would you wish to do on a Friday in Nairobi rather than interact with climate change campaigners in an informal, lively and artistic venue? Kenya Climate concert provided a one on one interactive session for the Nairobi audience to share their experiences and take the necessary steps towards fighting climate change wherever they might be.
On this Friday, the darkness of the night engulfed us without noticing and were it not for the gradual end of the music by Abakisimba, the conversations would have ended the following week!
I remember Valentine Sims, a 350 Kenya volunteer asking,
“Is it over?”
To this, I replied,
“No! It is not over yet! We are carrying on with the conversation, the messages, the experience and the spirit to our communities! “.
I know the Kenya Climate Concert is over but it is not over! We will continue to fight climate change and we will definitely win! All that we need is to mobilize as many people as possible from the grassroots level! This movement might not have fat bank accounts to fight the fossil fuels industry but what we have is the people’s power!
Nothing beats that!
And you too could be part of this!