The Other Festival

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In a fit of pique I decided to go to another festival. The vague gist of which, and the promotional material was certainly vague, was somewhere between dub, grime, garage, house. This is obviously my natural scene.

Hey ho, you’re only young once, and so pestered by edgier, more urban, gutter children I went and attempted to broaden my horizons. Happily the bring your own booze policy eased my concerns. The location in the middle of a forest was quaint. There was an air of midsummer nights’ dream, we were on the edge of town, in a mysterious wood, with drink, the  possibility and the potential for mayhem in the air.

It was, however, a slow start. Which is perhaps kind, because I’m not all together sure it started. I would like to say I was converted to the delights of dub, etc. I was not. Nor was this the event to do it. The talent was simply lackluster. We were faced by act after act of mediocre mixing the like of which I had not imagined outside of the confines of the dear old Willow in York or the dorms of all boys boarding schools.

Though perhaps they were playing to the balconies. It was exam results day. The place, if not teemed, at least weakly pulsed with young blood celebrating and commiserating. They were drunk on new found freedom, on staying out late, on breaking rules, as much as hard liquor. They were also frankly timid. No tribute to Skins did I witness; the scene was more akin to an episode of the Inbetweeners. It should have been rather sweet really, but it was more irritating.

I suppose because Nairobi is consistently considered one of, if not the, most dangerous city in Africa, I was expecting its youth to be wild hedonists living in the moment with a devil-may-care attitude. Yet these were the children of successful middle class parents, the entry was as much to this as to the splendid jazz festival, and so I should not be at all surprised at their reserve, and their freshness to vice and corruption.

Consistently I have found Kenyan youth – bar the streetchildren which is a whole different, sad and tragic matter – innocent. Compared even to my rather tame adolescence, it is like something from the pages of Enid Blyton. In its way it is refreshing, a tonic to the excesses of my last few years of university drink and debauchery. Perhaps this prudence, this abstinence, this sobriety is a defense mechanism against the dangers of the world. Though if it means more festivals like this, I will happily continue in my godless drunkenness.

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