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Jazz lovers unite at Inaugural Bob Collymore International Jazz Festival


Nairobi came alive on July 1, 2023, as music enthusiasts gathered at the Carnivore grounds to celebrate the inaugural BC International Jazz Festival.

The event paid tribute to the late Bob Collymore, former CEO of Safaricom, and his profound love for jazz music.

Revelers during BC International Jazz Festival Hosted by Bob Collymore Foundation at Carnivore Grounds, Nairobi on Saturday, 1 July 2023. PHOTO| Bonface Bogita.

Also read: Uhuru: My final four hours with Bob Collymore

The festival showcased Kenya’s finest jazz artists and aimed to raise funds for Ghetto Classics, a program supporting music education in underprivileged communities. This program provides music education to over 300 children and families in underprivileged communities across Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu.

With gates opening at noon as promised, thousands of Nairobians eagerly poured into the venue to experience a day filled with soulful melodies.

As the first jazz notes reverberated through the Carnivore grounds, the BC International Jazz Festival paid tribute to a man whose passion for music lives on.

In celebrating his legacy and embracing the transformative power of jazz, the festival brought together people from all walks of life, transcending barriers of language, distance, and borders.

The festival’s all-star Kenyan lineup, featuring renowned acts like the Nairobi Horns Project, Jacob Asiyo, Shamsi Music, Edward Pareseen, and Jack Maguna, mesmerized the crowd throughout the event.

Also read: Five of Bob Collymore’s wittiest quotes

Edward Parseen performs during BC International Jazz Festival Hosted by Bob Collymore Foundation at Carnivore Grounds, Nairobi on Saturday, 1 July 2023. PHOTO| Bonface Bogita.

Reflecting on the festival’s genesis, Zaheeda Suleman-Arain, the event director, remarked, “It was almost as if it was meant to be on his anniversary.”

The late Bob Collymore’s vision of jazz becoming a significant cultural event in Kenya fueled the planning process, which began more than two years ago. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers remained resolute in their pursuit of realizing Collymore’s dream.

The Nairobi Jazz Festival, championed by Collymore himself, played a crucial role in the resurgence of jazz in the country over the past decade. The genre’s ability to foster improvisation and encourage musicians to listen to each other has contributed to its growing popularity.

The Jazz festival organizers, the Bob Collymore Foundation, have grand ambitions for the BC International Jazz Festival.

They envision it becoming the largest jazz festival on the African continent. They plan to expand their reach and establish a calendar year with jazz events showcasing African talent. Their ultimate goal is to foster unity across the continent through the universal language of music.

Also read: Interesting facts emerge about Bob Collymore’s two wills written before his death