Nneka, the much anticipated musician from Nigeria landed in Nairobi yesterday and immediately embarked on a sight seeing tour of Uhuru Park.
Nneka whose concert is on Saturday at the TreeHouse, came with part of her band with the rest set to join her at the Sauti Za Busara Festival in Zanzibar where she is the leading act in the annual event that will run from 8 February. She has planned an East African Tour, her first, with concerts in Uganda and Tanzania lined up.
She held a press conference yesterday at the Nairobi Safari Club Hotel where a handful of journalist attended.
The concert has been organized by the Goethe Institut in collaboration with Spark Africa and it will also see Nneka conduct workshops with local artists on music writing and performance.
During the brief, she spoke widely about her tough journey leaving Nigeria to Germany, learning the German language and eventually going back to Nigeria and trying to build a fan base for her music. She shared an incident during her early days as a musician in Nigeria where she was sharing a stage with 2face and the usual loud Nigerian crowd gave her a really hard time. It was only after she appeared in the Letterman Show that Nigeria claimed her as their own and she could hear her music being played everywhere.
The fact that she does not sing pop music has made it somewhat harder to penetrate the Nigerian Music market- something that she acknowledged did not happen in Europe or in America. But as she confirmed, her music is finding a place in Nigeria and the people are slowly waking up to the many problems that are plaguing them and realizing that they can actually do something about it. She has been quite vocal in her support for the #OccupyNigeria movement that arose due to the removal of oil subsidies in the country recently.
Nneka is quite grounded spiritually, something that is seen across all her albums and as I pointed this out during the press brief, she acknowledged the fact that she does believe in a higher power and she never has the words to fully describe her connection with this higher being.
It was interesting to learn that she has tried her hand in acting, something that she confessed was just a favour she did to a good friend by agreeing to play the role of a ‘good’ prostitute called Honey in the movie Relentless.
When asked which direction she sees herself taking with her music, she simply said ” I want to enter your heart, in any way possible, that is my ultimate goal'”
It was quite evident that Nneka does not like being put in a box – either when it comes to describing her music or the impact she is having in the Nigerian music scene with her music being described as Hip Hop soul and likening her with Fela Kuti. She did however acknowledge drawing alot of inspiration from Fela, from Bob Marley from Chinua Achebe. This can be seen in her choice of album titles and the style in her beats.
Asked about her expectations for saturday, she simply put “I don’t like having expectations, that way I don’t get disappointed”
She did however hint that the band will play songs mainly from the latest album Soul is Heavy as well as from the earlier albums. She also point out that they would ‘read’ the crowd to be in tune.
After the press conference, Nneka who was dying to have some fish and Ugali was taken to Ronalo’s for a taste of Kenyan cooking.
If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, you need to as the organizers might not have any at the gate.