Opinion Piece: Why The “I Am Nairobi Festival” Should Incorporate Floodlight Football And Other Major Sports

By Kenn Okaka

NAIROBI, Kenya- The ‘I am Nairobi festival’, mooted by governor Johnson Sakaja, is a welcome idea that we should all strive to ensure is a success.

The festival, which is the first of its kind, and the governor’s brainchild, will celebrate and appreciate Nairobi’s diverse food, culture, and art.

Being a journalist with a bias for sports and especially football, and as a football official, I urge Governor Sakaja to make night football one of the major events of the festival.

Nairobi City County governor Johnson Sakaja creatively displays his youthful perspective. PHOTO/ COURTESY

Football is the most popular sport in the country and is thus able to attract a large number of enthusiasts, fans, corporate partners, and star players.

Speaking at a meeting with officials from the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sakaja said the inaugural edition of the festival would take place after the Jamhuri day celebrations in December.

It would offer an opportunity to celebrate the globally popularised matatu culture, as Kenyan mini-buses are known for.

Media and Communications Officer at Football Kenya Federation, Kenn Okaka. PHOTO/ COURTESY

In this regard, I wish to remind the governor that football is embedded in the very fabric that cuts the cloth for Nairobi and specifically Eastlands

The governor also said the festival will offer an opportunity for the residents to celebrate the “vibe of the city.”

An open area like the Comesa grounds at the KICC open ground or Uhuru park would be an ideal place to host a night football festival.

Other sports that can attract huge fan bases include rugby and basketball if well managed.

This will be very successful if the governor includes more stakeholders including sports officials in the City to organize this festival.

Allowing traders to sell their wares all day and night on this special day will also play a major role in bringing numbers to the city on this night.

Sakaja said that in December, Nairobi County will set aside some streets to display culture, food, and creativity, have the nganya (public service vehicle) awards for the best-done matatus, and have rugby, football, and basketball tournaments and many other activities.

When we say we want to be pro-business it is not just passive to stop harassment of traders but we want to be proactive to facilitate and promote.

A perspective view of Nairobi City County as per the lenses of a creative photographer. PHOTO/ Courtesy

There are many archaic laws including those that hamper creativity and innovation and the Nairobi county government is going to weed those out.

It has long been a point of consternation for Nairobi digital creators and photographers about the harassment meted out by council workers on them over the legality of videography and photography within the city.

Other events that are likely to make the event a success include open-air DJ competitions where winners bag good prizes. Notably, the last DJ competition was held in Kenya in 2008, and therefore, making this day a DJ competitions day will also help market the entire event bringing in numbers.

Coupled with weekly updates and briefings through all the media channels, this festival with guaranteed security on the day, is going to be the best thing that has happened in the city for a long time.

The organizing committee led by the Governor and the able CEC Nominees Suzanne Silantoi and Brain Mulama should also make sure they involve the transport stakeholders including the matatu and taxi owners and operators to provide 24 hours’ transport on the day.

The success of this event can assure the Governor of another term in office.

Kenn Okaka is the Media and Communications Officer at Football Kenya Federation.

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