the art of pageantry, Nairobi’s own African Heritage has no peer.
The African Heritage Cultural Festival has perfected Pan-African
pageantry and crafts to such a point now it is acclaimed throughout
Dallas to Dusseldorf and from Cologne to Jadini Beach, the fantastic
Heritage stage show cum cabaret - featuring Kenyan musicians, models and
dancers as well as hairdressers, crafts people and chefs - has received
rave reviews from the critics wherever the troupe has performed.
is the way one Belgian critic described the overall effect the African
Heritage Cultural Festival had on European audiences who saw the show -
sponsored by Hilton International and Sabena Airlines - when the troupe
made its second European tour in 1980.
magic... a rare treat for city dwellers... a breath of fresh air...
a show that vibrated with colour, style and pomp,” said the
Kenyan press after seeing the fete 10 years later, in 1990.
The occasion - a benefit celebrating the Kenya National
Museum’s 60th anniversary.
African Heritage’s three-day 20th Anniversary festivities starting on
December 16 at the new Libra Makuti Pavilion and the Hotel
Intercontinental poolside respectively, all will have a chance to see
for themselves what exactly is so delightful about the much-acclaimed
African Heritage extravaganza.
it the traditional costumes - from Cameroon and Ghana, Nigeria and
Swaziland - or the chic Pan African fashions made from hand-woven and
it the lithe and leggy models many of whom go on, after cat walking on
African Heritage Nights, to become super-models in Europe and United
States, like Iman, Khadija, Esther and Gaudentia among others?
is it merely music, dancing and acrobatics provided by popular groups,
like Musically Speaking and Dajo Dancers?
flavourful food? The
colourful, upbeat handicrafts? Or
a magical mix of all these!
actual fact, the Heritage Cultural Festival has evolved and changed
tremendously since African Heritage first decked out Hollywood models as
Maasai and Turkana warriors, feathered headgear and all, as part of Alan
Donovan’s presentation of African Jewellery and artifacts at the
California Folk and Craft Museum, then called the Egg and Eye, while on
his first cross-country tour of the States in 1971.
that time, African Heritage was still in embryo form and specializing in
“ethnic” jewellery. But the Madagascar Festival, organised by Studio
Arts 68 and then African Heritage, helped to open Donovan’s eyes to
the glorious artistic options that a full “cultural festival” could
provide. The fabulous
Malagasy National Folklore Troupe, led by Odeam Rakoto saw to that. Not
only was the Malagasy Festival the largest ever to come to Kenya from
another African country, it was also a multi-media affair; included were
musicians, artists and dancers as well as assorted exhibitions, daily
slide-lecture shows and several fantastic fashion shows, featuring
elegant hand-woven Malagasy silk and raffia fabrics.
before these fabulous design ideas could be translated into African
Heritage terms, Studio Art 68 and Heritage organised yet another equally
vibrant festival in 1972, this one featuring Nigerians.
African Heritage Pan-African Gallery was officially opened in January
1973 by the Mayor of Nairobi, Miss Margaret Kenyatta.
it was actually later on that year that the first grand Heritage pageant
of costumes and fashion debuted.
took place at the newly finished Kenyatta Conference Centre for the
first World Bank meeting ever held there!
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