Despite a knack for extended procrastination Patricia Kihoro is proud to say she made it to Jo’burg and looked her punky finest at this year’s Afropunk Festival.
As soon as it was announced that the Afropunk Festival would finally be coming to Africa, with Solange, Anderson Paak and Laura Mvula as the main acts, and some of my favorite Afrocentral (my radio show) artists on the line up performing, I didn’t think much about planning around it. I rushed to the website to buy my weekend pass as though my life depended on it.
June 2017, with only my festival ticket in my email, and a clear vision of all the fun I would have in December, I felt proud of myself as this was the first time I had ever committed to doing something so far ahead of time. I’m the kind of person who books flights last minute mainly because I like to keep my options open, as well as being very aware of my mortality.
I made a clarion call on Facebook, and soon after a WhatsApp group of fellow Afropunk enthusiasts was formed to discuss our enthusiasm, visa requirements, flights and accommodation. This was promising to be an epic New Year’s plan and I was feeling like quite the adult for being so organised. Yet I could feel the dark veil of procrastination slowly falling from my eyes.
December 2017, and as WhatsApp travel groups are wont to do, a couple of people had bowed out. There I was, the curse of procrastination firmly back in place, rushing to apply for my visa last minute. I still had no flights booked, or accommodation planned but I was as determined as ever to cross into 2018 being blown away by the greatness of all the artists scheduled to perform.
A day before I was to get my passport back and find out if I had or hadn’t been granted a visa, I put out a little, earnest plea to the Almighty to make the trip happen. I followed this up with some posts on the Instagram feeds of the artists, to let God know I really meant it. An hour later, the South African Tourism board had called and plans were underway to fly a group of Kenyans, myself included, to Johannesburg for the festival, all expenses paid. Can I get an amen?
The festival itself was a magical, two day amalgamation of everything good and not so good that could happen at a festival. Day one was marred by a ridiculously violent hailstorm that did nothing to dampen the excitement of the party goers. Decked out in Kenya apparel and accessories and doing the most in our Afropunk shine, my friends and I endured the cold and wet conditions, and even found refuge at the Sumting Fresh food truck which had the most amazing chicken wings I have ever tasted, and a flirty crew that sang to you as you ate, making me consider ditching my life as I know it and contemplating a future as a food truck server. The hail dissipated and the night’s performances resumed with Jojo Abot and Blitz The Ambassador deserving special mention.
Day two, and the sky was the clearest I have ever seen it and the sun cast the perfect glow onto everyone in attendance. Bumping into Kenyans from places far and wide made it even more magical to experience. Having to broadcast my radio show, Afrocentral, live from the festival, meant that I had to approach and speak to a vast array of individuals, from all over the world, who had travelled just for the festival. The artists themselves laid their hearts bare on the stage and despite Solange’s last minute cancellation, Anderson Paak and Laura Mvula were worthy headliners. I even got to meet Anderson and hang out in his trailer for a little while after the show, making that the cherry on the top of the most wonderful start to the new year.