Mark Kamau

Not what you'd expect of Nairobi

New art has resulted from recent political unrest here in Kenya. Springing up all over Nairobi are places where artists and performers interact that are not revealed in your common travel guide. With me, you will certainly get more than you bargained for.


Mark Kamau of the KFI - Image taken from an article about the Kilimanjaro Film Institute by Jos Schuring.

Met: Mark Kamau

Meet me, your guide, Mark. I manage the Kilimanjaro Film Institute in Tanzania. I'll show you the things you wouldn't expect here in Nairobi, Kenya

Art Central
You have been invited to hang out with some artists-in-residence! The Kuona Arts Trust is one of the most important organisations in the budding Nairobi arts culture and believes that a vibrant artistic community is a vital tool for social change. Their office and studios are located within the multidisciplinary Godown Art Centre. Through the art studios and residency program, Kuona Trust provides working space for young, local and international artists. With Godown, Kuona organises workshops, exhibitions and other artistic projects for the community. Meet the influential artists connected to this group, Patrick Mukbai.

Oh, what a circus!
Nairobi's art scene sets it's sights on social change through art and creativity. Spend some time with the Sarakasi Trust. Since Sarakasi means 'aerobatics/circus' in Kiswahili, you know you are in for a wild ride with this organisation! Sarakasi Trust is all about appreciation and access to anything movement-oriented within the arts. Together with these amazing performers, you will get a taste of some of Sarakasi's new projects and maybe participate in some improv or acrobatics with their physical theatre group.

Vibrant colors
African Colors has their finger on the pulse of the art and culture scene here in Nairobi. Most significant artists have a connection to this organisation and find it to be a great tool for networking and raising support for their initiatives. Meet Maggy Otieno, a local sculptor with loads of fun connections. Or go to African Colors and get to know more of the artists connected with this vibrant organisation.

Hungry? Go to Italian restaurant Osteria del Chianti.

The Ogonga boys
Meet Jimnah Kimani, a lively and dynamic artist in the community. After chewing the fat for a while with Jimnah about his latest endeavors with the Kuona Trust, you are off to meet Thom Ogonga, a fellow artist who is ready to show you a slightly different perspective of the world of Nairobi. Thom is fascinated by nocturnal activities and will take any opportunity to excite the artist within. Then go off to the Black Diamond Club to search for some more stimulation.

On the horizon
I'll introduce you to Thom's brother, Jimmy Ogonga, local sculptor and founder of another cultural favorite, the Centre for Contemporary Art in East Africa (CCAEA). They are an organization that is set to serve as an advocate for contemporary art and as a catalyst for the creation of new art projects. They work to nurture emerging and established artists, and to provide opportunities for inspiration, experimentation and education which support the evolution of new ideas. This is just the place for you to round out your interaction with the Nairobi underground art scene by hanging out with the emerging artists they support. In the evening, continue the fun by finding a local spot to dance the night away with some new friends you have made on this trip.

Java Coffee
Mercury Lounge

By the way...
Use a taxi at night and preferably travel accompanied
People are becoming increasingly trendy, so be sure to bring some nice outfits for going out. Many who visit Africa think they don’t need to carry anything trendy because it is a bush, but they end up in clubs with flip flops and dirty jeans looking out of place.
The issue of homosexuality is becoming discussed more frequently and people are fairly openly gay with the increased level of tolerance from the middle class.
Best hang-out spots are usually located away from the city centre

Public transport: 2€ one-way
Taxi: 5€ - 6€
Meal : 2€ - 20€