The fifth edition of the Mshikaki Street Festival took place on Saturday 6th of April at the Tusks on Moi Avenue, against a backdrop of fears of another attack by militant terrorist group, Al-Shabaab.
Some people were of the view that the fete should have been postponed. After all, the nation was in mourning after the terrorist attack in Garissa that left 147 people dead and scores injured. In neighboring county, Lamu, the Food Expo and festival was only happening during the day and not at night due to the curfews imposed after an attack similar to the Garissa one occurred last year. But most people who attended the festival thought otherwise.
“If we put off our celebrations, our daily activities, then the terrorists will have won. We need to show them that they do not frighten us.”
That the food festival happened even with the dark cloud of the massacre hanging in the air, only goes to show how resilient Kenyans are. Mombasa residents planned a candle-lighting memorial for those who lost their lives in Garissa earlier in the day before proceeding to the Mshikaki Street Festival. Security arrangements were made and precautions taken, including having Lamu County security officers supplementing the Mombasa county security.
For security purposes, the live band, a staple of the fest, and who always entertain revelers in the Uhuru Gardens, were this time moved to the road. This did not in any way prevent the band’s performance to be anything less than spectacular. People indulged themselves by joining in dancing in the middle of the road and enjoyed themselves immensely. One Chris Muga, who graced the dance-floor with his friends, had this to say,
“The band was awesome, especially the lead vocalist. She sang like an angel. In that moment, we put aside our worries about terrorists and gave ourselves to the music”
Mshikaki is cuisine tourism at its best, and a conversation on the festival is definitely incomplete without mentioning the food. The fifth edition of the festival did not disappoint. Samosas, Rice patties, cakes, mahambri, Shawarma, Squid, Kebab, were among the foods on display and on sale; as well as drinks such as fresh fruit juice and madafu, coconut water. There were considerably more stalls than before, with inclusion of corporates such as Pwani Oil with their Fresh Fri cooking oil. Seats and tables were set out in the middle of the road for people to eat at.
The event was hosted by Dj Gates Magenge of Pwani Fm and MC Chris of Baraka Fm with Dj. Ivory on the decks, all of whom did an excellent job. There were performances by singers, rappers, dancers and even Spoken Word artistes.
Perhaps the best part of the night (besides the fact that Nigerian songstress Yemi Alade graced the stage as the closing act, setting the crowd wild with excitement) was that the event went down without a hitch. This is a clear message to terrorists and other ne’er-do-wells that Kenyans are ever united and no amount of terror will intimidate them and keep them from having fun and carrying on with their lives as usual.
“It is good to see all these people here,” said Valentine Mathai who was at the festival, “they are from different ethnic and religious background but united as one. Everyone is having fun. This is how it should always be”.