A bigger, funnier Khanga Festival

Friday February 21 2020

Daniel "Churchill" Ndambuki, Matthew Swallow, Chia Kayanda and Romain Mari at the Khanga Festival Press Conference held at the Intercontinental Hotel on February 6, 2020. PHOTO | THOMAS RAJULA


Cultural zenith Kilifi New Year Festival has teamed up with Laugh Industry, the muscle behind popular comedy show Churchill Live, to produce a new cultural event dubbed “Khanga Festival”.

The festival will be held from April 10-12 this year, and seeks to celebrate the diverse East African culture through music, art and comedy. A unique take on the festival will see musicians, comedians, story tellers, visual artists, designers and performers from across East Africa come together for a family friendly event at Beneath the Baobabs in Kilifi county.

“Khanga Festival values creativity, inclusiveness, and accessibility, freedom of expression, wellness and education, environmental consciousness and respect for all. We aim to create a platform where culture will be celebrated through arts, music, fashion, food and comedy,” festival director Romain Mari said.


Mari also commented on the importance of the khanga in East African culture, and the need to celebrate its significance by reigniting its value in a way that the participants can own, develop and create socio-economic channels that may not be in existent.

The festival also seeks to extend its duty of care to event goers, as well as the dwellers of the town by providing a boost to economic activities during the Easter weekend by establishing festival culture. “It involves getting away from the thought of just going out for a party for one night and embracing the festival for the full three-day experience. As a festival, we have a duty of care for our attendees, which involves clean amenities and at three meals a day,” said Khanga Festival investor Federico Berzoli.


“This also extends to the economic benefit of many small businesses within the festival grounds,” he added.

Matthew Swallow, the head of performances for the event, also said that the festival will provide a boost for upcoming artists in the region, as evidenced by the success rate of the Kilifi New Year Festival. “A festival environment gives more up-and-coming artists a platform to really push towards their own success, with a more diverse crowd and media coverage as an added bonus,” he explained.

Referring to the collaboration, Laugh Industry Founder Daniel “Churchill” Ndambuki adds that the festival will create opportunities for local talent in the entertainment industry to get a chance to showcase their prowess, contributing to the growth of the arts and entertainment industry in the country and region.

"We are glad to have partnered with Khanga Festival to increase opportunities for our comedy acts in the country. There is a lot of talent in the local market, but it needs to be nurtured. The festival will aim to nurture Kenyan talents and showcase them to the world. We want to create a wholesome festival that will be a tourist attraction, from Kenya to the world,” he said.

"This is an annual event. We hope to make it a meeting point for acts in the world, hoping one day to bring Kevin Hart to the festival,” Ndambuki added.

Early bird tickets are currently on sale on Mookh.