The venue is well lit and the reggae music blazes loud for the whole city to listen. Inside, the venue is divided into two: the VIPs and the regulars, and the smell of spliff pacifies. Yes, divided by barriers yet fixed on the main stage.
We are here for the reggae roots experience. After more than two decades of being dismissed as music for Kinyozi (barbers), older generation and devoted Rastafarians, roots reggae is relevant again in Nairobi amongst the unexpected crowd, the youth.
More than 10 local acts: DJs, MCs and sound systems performed on this Saturday night. Stacked up in short sets, each performance was like a reggae speed-dating, the red, gold and green colours associated with reggae paint the night skyline.
At 12.20 am and the crowd rose to its feet once again as Zincfence Redemption took the stage. Chronixx comes in after the introduction of a brief history of how he “started a fire” in 2013. To start off, he appeared then slowly but confidently walked right up to the microphone.
Then came his voice and the verses flowed. He was tall, with a black plain t-shirt, rugged jeans, gold jacket and matching gold sneakers. His red, gold and green turban hid his ponytail of dreadlocks. He smiled at everyone.
His set was eruptive from the onset, delivering an eruptions of dances, jumping and yes, the melodic lines and teachings of what the Revival means: “This is Africa. A special place full of love, energy and strength.” It was as if for a moment the whole city was just quiet as they listened to the ‘saviour’. The spotlight lay on him and the stage.
The night was lit as the red-gold and green flags were waved all night. A proper gathering of Rastafarians. For many, this was a dream come true. Yes, to hold a vibe and reason with Chronixx and his band.
At one point, the night became an ocean of tiny glowing phone screens led by Chronixx, who would forget to switch off his phone light, illuminating his pocket all night long. As he stood on that stage, you could see steam rise from his forehead. A clear indication of someone who had left nothing on that stage.
He connected spiritually with his fans. The Revival also had its lessons and Chronixx was not afraid to preach: “‘Africans in the west, repatriate to Africa in mind and spirit;’ ‘Rasta fights spiritually; unification of Africa. No geographical boundaries. One people. One love;’ ‘We use dancehall to promote righteousness; ‘Africa unite!’”
And perhaps to show off that unity, Chronixx would sing portioned lines of fellow Revival collectives like Protoje, Jah9, Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, and Kelissa, in-between sending big up shout outs to locals, reggae ambassador G Money, Empire Sounds and ZJ Heno.
Chronixx proved that Reggae roots is a group movement genre of music by singing lines from fellow artists. There is no superstar. In a few minutes, the crowd would beg Chronixx not to leave the stage. And in honour he would return to take the Revival fire a notch higher before in humility introducing his band members and giving the crowd a final bow to end his performance.
We walk out of KICC feeling spiritually nourished through his music and having a connection euphoria so hard to describe. Zincfence and Chronixx, at the moment, may look like they are just holding vibes and goofing around, but they have understood the longing for a reggae roots Revival.
As we get into the car and drive off into Waiyaki Way at 3am, we can’t shake the feeling. Yes, the future is bright!
Source: Vincent Libosso, What’s Good Networks Kenya
Photos credited to Good Times Africa. (https://www.facebook.com/GTimesAfrica/timeline)