Ready for your next road trip?
Where doth thy road lead THEE? ALFAYO ONYANGO is just finally catching a breath after about a weeklong road trip to usher in the new year at the famed bohemian Kilifi New Year festival, and unpacks the experience
As a night owl, it’s always hard for me to wake up early for morning trips because it either means forced slumber, or no slumber at all till departure time.
However, this time round, I did a little bit of both. A two-hour nap at 3am was all the rest I needed before embarking on the journey at 5am with the rest of the crew. I even had a little dream.
Fast forward to the beginning of our road trip; two cars, six people, it was all systems go.
The controllers of the wheels charged up and ready with espresso shots before we left.
We were greeted with a remarkable sunrise that morning on the hilly horizon of Kajiado, with peachy pink and purple hues on the canvas sky.
Several bathroom breaks later, we were hailed by some slight humidity at Mtito Andei, which in a way increased our excitement for our destination.
When we finally got to Kilifi, we were sticky, sweaty and everything in between.
All we wanted were cool showers and a change of clothes, but instead, we were hit with a rude awakening on arrival.
Not only did we find out that our place was a case of false advertising, but also our rooms were still occupied and unclean. Imagine the frustration!
After a few curses were thrown in the air and some persuasive conversations had, we conclusively unstuck ourselves and settled into our home for the next couple of days; and to further clear our frustrations, some of us decided to go down to the Kilifi Creek and peek at the ocean.
It was a five-minute walk and as part of our first adventure, we decided to swim to a boat that turned out to be an immobile yacht to sunbath and enjoy the views on.
Day one and two
This was day one of the Kilifi New Year 2020 festival, an event held annually at Beneath the Baobabs. I always encourage people to go on the first day, just to get their bearings on ground and find out who is and isn’t around. The highlight of my night was DJ Paps.
He played at the main stage and it was all my partner in crime and I needed in order to set ourselves free for the night, early enough to get some rest for the rest of the festival.
Day two: We made ourselves breakfast and decided to roam around the town for a little bit.
We went with one of the locals from our residence, who helped show us around and shop a wee. Soon after, it was back to the beach and a quick dip plus drinks at Distant Relatives Ecolodge, then a festive change of clothes.
The day was December 31 and everyone was excited to celebrate. There were four stages at the festival, namely; The Main Stage, The Muze Stage, The Baobab Deck and The Kizazi Stage.
Each had its own different vibe to offer, with a unique and special line-up. I was keen to crossover the year at The Muze Stage because all my favourites were lined up there for the night: Yellow Light Machine, Hiribae, Taio, Ochungulo Family, Valerie Muthoni, Barak Jacuzzi, DJ GI, Coco Em, Cheza Roho, Shappaman and other special guests - I could not dare miss.
My only disappointment was that there were no fireworks that entire night to mark the start of the new year, much less an entirely new decade! Our screams, the blows of fire and upbeat music had to suffice, and I hope they can change this in the near future.
All the same, it was a blast and I was happy to be with those I was with in that moment. The Baobab Deck was the best place to get cozy and intimate with festivalgoers. It was like ‘the couch’ of the party and every moment spent there was lovely.
It’s officially 2020, the first day of the new decade. A brunch of champions, the Kilifi breeze, the palm trees dancing outside; everything was befitting of a perfect day.
As the Swahili proverb goes, ‘Siku njema huonekana asubuhi’, so, we made our way to the venue around early lunchtime.
Understandably, most people had either just gone to sleep or not slept at all by the time we got to the event venue, but our people still showed out to rhumba and catch the daylight vibe.
For some reason, people party harder on the 1st and that’s exactly what happened. It was the night of the burn and the musical line-up was just as exciting. Blinky Bill, Kampire and Foozak were playing and it was what majority were looking forward to.
At the start of every year, the festival celebrates new beginnings by burning down a specific icon.
This year’s icon was Son of a Sun, which according to organisers, represents the power of manifesting into new selves and what participants hope to ooze in the new year.
A sense of rebirth was observed after the burn, where past discrepancies were let go and new desires manifested.
The energy in the air even felt new; there was a shift, and it truly was a new decade.
There was increased dancing, pumped laughter and dare I say, heightened love.
I remember the sight that was Kizazi Stage when I decided to cross over to that side; it was spiritual.
The atmosphere felt like home, a holistic village that you could get lost into.
This was the first time we stayed up past sunrise on the trip; it was a scene like no other, the aftermath of what we had come to celebrate.
It was the second day of January 2020 and indeed, we were under the spell of the 1,000-year-old baobabs.
The 25-acre multi-purpose eco-venue located on the edge of Takaungu Creek will be hosting its inaugural Khanga Festival celebrating East African music, comedy, arts and culture this Easter, and if this experience sounds like a road trip up your alley, you may want to start preparing now.