No Valentines, Please, We are Malaikalettes!

Patrick Mwaeba on Saxophone, accompanied by other colleagues perform ‘Malaika’ during a past Malaika Festival Gig in Nairobi

 

The decision to hold Malaika Festival 2015 on Saturday, February 14 may, on the surface, appear benign and a complementary, submissive act of support for Valentines Day-that great, cyclic force of true and false Love celebrated in many parts of the World on February 14 each year.

Mary Ndunda (left), with other models during the latest malaika Festival 2015 at Galaxy Resort Voi on Sat. Feb 14.

 

Miss Mary Ndunda (left) donning the ‘Malaikalette’ sash during rehearsals for Malaika Festival 2015.

Usually, save for the Festival’s 7-year hiatus in Nairobi between 2004 and 2010, the organisers of the now ‘devolved’ Festival have had the option of celebrating Malaika Festival Day in honor of Fadhili William of  ‘Malaika ’ song fame either strictly on 11th of every February, irrespective of the day of the week, to mark his death anniversary-even if the anniversary fell  mid-week on a normal working day. The better if it fell on a Saturday, or Sunday, as it would create more excitement and definetely attract  more Party-goers and entusiasts.

At a consultative, planning forum held earlier in Nairobi in 2004 to prepare the Malaika Festival Gig where it all started, a well-wisher, noting its proximity to Valentines had naughtily but, light-heartedly opined and, prophesied that the Festival should in future strive to ‘drown out’ Valentines Day,  whose irresistible commercial appeal appeared to drown out the true romantic sense and purpose of the moment.  The Forum’s agenda then was, among other things, to identify a suitable day to mark Fadhili’ William’s 3rd anniversary. Fadhili William, in whose honor Malaika Festival is predicated, died in Nairobi on Sunday, February 11, 2001 after an illustrious music career spanning over 50 years. That year, the Organizers picked on the supervening Saturday, February 14, 2004, which coincided with Valentines!

The CS for Defense Miss Raychelle Omamo (middle, holding a Fadhili William Souvenir Program), Duncan Mwanyumba (left) and Mohamed Juma of Mombasa Roots (right) during a past Malaika Festival event in Nairobi.

 

In reality, however, the seemingly harmless prophesy would only   be practically fulfilled, if the Festival were regularly held in 2004, 2009, 2015, 2026 or in 2032, i.e, after  intervals of  5,6, 11 and 7 years, respectively, when Valentines Day would fall squarely on Saturdays in the  years in question.

Fast forward to Saturday, February 14, 2015 when Madam Hope Mruttu, wife of Taita Taveta Governor Engineer John Mtuta Mruttu, acting out her role  as the Festival’s Chief Guest, observed,  that “…Curiously, Fadhili William, who sang throughout his life for lovers and promoted the language and message of peace, met his death when the World Lovers’ Day-Valentines, was just around the corner…”.

But, unknown to the Chief Guest, the lethal prophesy still lay inchoate beneath the Festival’s warm  and affable surface, ready to strangle the local romantic gains ever made over the decades through  observance of Valentines Day, which purports to celebrate Love only once-a-year, instead of, all year round!

Enter Miss Mary Ndunda, the youthful and pretty Taita  pageant who, earlier in August 2014, came perilously close to clinching the ‘Miss Kenya Taita Taveta Beauty Peargeant’ held at Voi Wildlife Lodge and whose near-collapse was averted by Hon. Joyce Wanjallah Lay-the Women Representative in the Kenya National Assembly- in what was billed as ‘a Rescue Package’ due to the Taita Taveta County Government’s reticence.

Donning a bold, red-coloured ‘Miss Malaika’ sash across her waist, Miss Ndunda led a bevy of other modelers into the Malaika Festival 2015 Night at Galaxy Resort Voi, after briefly careening across Voi Stadium earlier in the day to cheer and witness the finals of the two-week ‘Malaika Football Tournament’ held as part of the  commemorative activities. Miss Ndunda’s companions too wore sashes of their own emblazoned with the words ‘Malaikalette’ across their gutful torsos.

The late Fadhili William (middle, in blue jacket), the late John Ngereza (left) and Samba Mapangala during a past musical American tour.

Judging from the standing ovations and enthusiasm with which ‘Miss Malaika’ and ‘Malaikalettes’ were met at both Voi Stadium and, at Galaxy Resort Voi, the naughty prophesy may well nigh be fulfilled in the fullness of time, with Malaika Festival anticipated to grow out  big in future to  challenge Valentines Day as the only Day full of all cultural expressions, including Love, local delicacies, drinks and dances that ought to be promoted and preserved as part of our Kenyan heritage, without  necessarily however having to roll back, reduce or, shun Valentines Day. Long Live Romance, and Long Live Malaikalettes!

By: Duncan Mwanyumba.