Comparisons are often drawn between the capital city Nairobi and Mombasa as far as literary engagements go. When it comes to arts and culture, however, there is need to realise just how Mombasa is becoming increasingly able to hold its own.
For a while there were little or no activities in the coastal art scene. If there were any events, there were largely unheard of, elitist or lingually inhibitive due to their exclusivity. Early 2012 and there seemed to be a sudden paradigm shift. The capital was a boiling point of the arts then, literary events were being held every other day. Such could not be said of Mombasa.
Ufalme Africa, a coastal art group would hold its poetry eventing Mombasa Old Town, but tussles and disagreements killed the buzz. For quite a while there was a lull as far as performance art goes. Then new groups started emerging. Last Word Standing held its first poetry, Spoken Word and Hip Hop Event at Jahazi Coffee House in October 2012. What started as a protest against the dormancy of art in the region became a monthly event for artists and lovers of art to meet and fraternize.
There are two main art spaces in Mombasa. Alliance Française hosts concerts, musicals, plays as well as screening of various local and international films. They also run art exhibitions once in a while. Little Theatre Club in Mbaraki is the other space. It is mostly theatre, but it has also become an incubator of Sports, providing equipment and space for artistes to practice and showcase their various skills. Dancers actors, poets and musicians have their home here.
The youth of Mombasa are hungry for success. The talented among them want to make their talents work for them so bad they are putting in place measures to get them there. The Talent Unplugged is a group formed by youth to provide a platform for engaging the youth through art and literary performances.
The county government seems to have noticed the efforts of the county’s youths and has also started organizing events for them. Amoury, a popular Mombasa singer is all praise for the county government.
“The government really is supporting the youth, and can now even help foot part of the production costs for our projects,”
said the artist whose latest video Sebene features the county’s Youth and Gender Services Secretary Mohammed Abbas and county government patrol cars.
“Mombasa county 001 through the Department of Youth, Gender and Sports under Waziri Abbas has made it possible for our youths who are talented to taste the sweet fruit of our County. Thanks to our H.E Governor Hassan Ali Joho,” says Alfred Mwakio, also an artist.
With the kind of determination seen among the youth and the increasing frequency of art and cultural events in the city, it is only a matter of time before Mombasa takes over as the boiling pot for arts in the country. With the support of the county government, the youth can now earn a living from their artistic talents.