Sarakasi at 22

Mother Nature: A celebration of Sarakasi Trust at 22 years!

The 15th of September marked 22 years since the establishment of Sarakasi Trust, celebrated by means of a colorful event dubbed “Mother Nature”.  “Mother Nature” combined elements of circus, dance and visual storytelling to shed a light on topical issues around environmental conservation, pollution, climate change, global warming as to create general awareness to the members of the audience. Guests started streaming in, both old and young, artist and civilian, short and tall, to witness what would turn out to be a magical night and a treat of a lifetime from Sarakasi All Stars. What was particularly exciting to watch was how expectant the guests were, citing that it would be a night to remember for two major reasons: that they had never known a possibility of having a circus employed to speak into such a pertinent social issue of global warming, while looking forward to a return of performances at the Sarakasi Dome, as Sarakasi had not staged a performance in a very long time due to the pandemic. While talking to me, freelance journalist Furaha Ruguru of the online news blog, La music junkie reckoned: “I am so excited to see what the show will be. I have been to so many events and I have seen a lot of performances in my lifetime, but I have never seen a merge of circus and social discourse. This promises to be down in my history books.”

Our refined and able Sarakasi dancers and acrobats were very ready and up in arms, excited for a show of a lifetime.

“I am extremely delighted to be a part of this live performance. We have been rehearsing for close to two months now, it promises to be a great show…” Sarakasi dancer Cindy Were reckoned. “…we have not had an in-house performance since the wake of the pandemic, this had a major impact on us as artists. It is good to be performing at our home after a very long time. This celebration means a lot to me, and we look forward to treating the audience members to a show like no other.” She explained.

Our creative manager Coach Edu had been conceptualizing the show, with the help of renowned choreographer Oscar Mwalo and Jose Contez. He expresses, “Despite the few challenges that the entertainment industry has faced in the wake of the global pandemic, we remained vigilant and hopeful for what the future might hold for us. CASiK has been so gracious in allowing us to create our art and to use it to tell important stories. While I was thinking about the concept of mother Nature, it occurred to me that we must create more show s like this, in order to provide value to all our stakeholders and involved parties, beyond just entrainment. We had to give people something to think about …” He explains.

For the past 22 years, Sarakasi Trust prides itself in building towards the vision of empowering the youth, majorly through creating platforms for artistic growth, through channeling social and economic opportunities for them. Our work has mainly been with performing artists, with a direct impact to various communities and regions both locally and across the country. Speaking to the media on the celebration night, Marion Op het Veld, Managing Director of Sarakasi Trust reckoned, “it is an amazing journey seeing the gains and milestones that we have been able to accomplish this far. This night is a celebration of the impact and transformation that we have effected into the lives of so many youths that we have worked with….”

” …With the collaboration of our incredible partners, clients, friends and donors, our work has spanned many projects, that have further enabled us to work towards our vision…” She expresses.

Some of the projects that Sarakasi Trust has been able to be involved with include: Training and Capacity building, international Cultural exchanges and contracts, Audience Building, Social Entrepreneurship, Smiles for Change, Talanta na Kazi, Talanta na Amani, Panga Sanaa Fellowship, Creative Arts Spaces in Kenya (CASiK) just to mention but a few.

Sarakasi has curated major successful events such as the iconic Sawa Sawa Festival that has seen multiple global artists gracing the Sarakasi stage including Don Carlos, Fally Ipupa, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and so many more.

While the 22 years of operation at Sarakasi Trust has brought more opportunities our way, it’s clear to us that the past creates a context upon which we must connect the present to the “Future of Sarakasi”. While the past was characterized with heavy engagement on donor funding and huge festivals, the present has taken a pivot into programs enhanced at building the capacity of both our artists and those on the periphery, while we adjust into a more commercial side of the art business. The future will have to merge these two elements for us to have more sustainable and long term successes in the creative industry.

We have had great success in collaborations with major partners, just as the Creative Arts Spaces in Kenya, (CASiK) in conjunction with and funded by the French Embassy in Kenya, who have been our support system in the production of “Mother Nature.” The inaugural show staged at Sarakasi Dome on the 15th of September, and later on the 17th of September at Nakuru Players Theatre. Both shows had massive success, with great reception from members of the audience. “I have never been so excited to be in a room as I was today. It was everything I imagined it would be, and more. Kudos to Sarakasi Trust for all the work that they have done with this production…” Irene, a member of the audience remarked.

While the contrast between the two venues was clear, the audience members had only good things to say. “I am so glad to have been invited to the staging of “Mother Nature”. I am excited to see more partnerships between Sarakasi and Nakuru city, being a creative city. This was an exhilarating ensemble…” Mr. James Mwachia from the creative economy of Nakuru City reckoned after the show.

We shall be travelling to Kisumu City, at Dunga Hill Camp for the third staging of Mother Nature, on the 24th of September 2022, at least for the culmination of the CASiK National tours. CASiK has brought together five major creative arts venues from different counties including Nakuru Players Theatre (Nakuru county), Swahili Pot Hub (Mombasa county), Lamu Youth Alliance (Lamu county) Dunga Hill Camp (Kisumu county) and Sarakasi Trust (Nairobi county) with the aim of creating a network of accredited and functional performance venues in Kenya, across the above mentioned selected counties, that will support artists’ hubs and communities by upgrading equipment and infrastructure, building technical capacities and developing cultural programs.

The night ended with a networking mixer, cocktails, snacks and photo sessions with what seemed as a creative sector reunion for many stakeholders, artists and players within the industry, that had been part of our journey through and through. Many thanks to all who came out to support our work, and to celebrate us for the milestones that we have made. Here’s to team Sarakasi, here’s to you, and here’s to the next 22years!!!

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