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WRC Safari Rally after-party recap: How it went down!

As the 2023 WRC Safari Rally drew large crowds of car enthusiasts and party-goers to Naivasha’s lakeside, another set of more youthful fun-lovers were spending much of their time at a different venue for the duration of the weekend-long event.

Dubbed “Hustla Village,” the official after-party for of WRC Safari Rally was held at Buffalo Mall. The mall also featured an exhibition area where innovative youth enterprises displayed their startups. The three-day festival also featured a mix of established and up-and-coming artists with the aim of promoting both new and existing talent.

Guests from across Kenya and other parts of the world were treated to a one-of-a-kind performance that left them yearning for more.

Initially hesitant about attending the party sponsored by Talanta Hela, this writer was won over by the chance to cover the fun-filled event on the sidelines of the WRC Safari Rally, in what turned out to be an unforgettable experience.

As we sped towards Naivasha, it was hard not to notice the infamous “Subaru Boys” making their grand entrance to Vasha with their noisy machines.

Rapper Khaligraph Jones performs on stage at the WRC Safari Rally after-party Hustla Bazaar at Buffalo Mall in Naivasha on June 24, 2023. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO

The entire weekend, the “Subaru Boys” tore up the roads of Naivasha with their classy rides. For the duration of the event, these vehicles were conspicuous along the dusty routes.

The rally fans proudly displayed miniature flags from their side mirrors or ironed onto the hood of the car, leaving no doubt about their nationality. Some daredevils went as far as showcasing their driving skills by holding miniature flags with their bare hands, while precariously sticking their heads and shoulders out of the car window.

“Being flashy is part of the deal,” one of them was heard chanting.

During the final stage of the WRC Safari Rally at Hell’s Gate National Park, their was traffic gridlock along the Moi South Lake Road with rally enthusiasts hell-bent (pun intended) on accessing the park by at all costs.

Anyway, it was a sight to behold and a testament to the passion and love that Kenyans have for their country and automobiles.

Ssaru performs on stage at the WRC Safari Rally after-party Hustla Bazaar at Buffalo Mall in Naivasha on June 24, 2023. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO

The atmosphere was filled with pure excitement and energy as the rally cars zoomed by, leaving the locals in awe of their speed and agility. The screeching sound of the tires and the roar of the engines were music to their ears. The beauty of the surroundings, with the lush greenery and hilly landscape, only added to the blissful experience.

Children waved at the drivers, hoping catch a glimpse as they passed by. The thrilling spectacle of the rally brought a sense of unity as everyone cheered their favourite drivers, united in their love and passion for the sport. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that brought nothing but pure joy to all who witnessed it.

From a distance, music from the powerful speakers and excited revelers singing their lungs out filled the air, carrying its rhythm for miles even before we arrived at our destination on Friday. The DJs were also expertly sampling songs from their extensive catalog, keeping the partygoers thoroughly entertained.

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The organizers had clearly spared no effort when it came to their sound system. And it showed. The sound quality was crystal clear and audible to all present. In addition, screens mounted on the walls displayed the night’s lineup, creating a buzz of excitement and anticipation among the audience.

Among the artistes who performed include Ssaru, colloquially known as queen of gengetone, Silverstone Barz, Boutross, Buruklyn Boyz, Khaligraph Jones, Young Pesa, Veryl Mkenya Wao, Shizo Mkenya, Kelmah, Ken Mathias, Adotchi, Lucy Empress, Fena Gitu, Femi One, Mejja, PHY among other underground artistes from Naivasha.

Buruklyn Boyz performs on stage at the WRC Safari Rally after-party Hustla Bazaar at Buffalo Mall in Naivasha on June 24, 2023. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO

The not-so-severe weather almost threatened Saturday evening’s performances as a mild rain started to drizzle through Buffalo Mall, bringing winds and a cool rush. Event officials had to delay some artistes’ performances but tried to keep the music playing and fans euphoric.

On Saturday evening, thousands of fans were kept on their feet during the performances. Despite the late-night air continuing to cool after the evening’s light downpour, there was no shortage of heat on the stage. For instance, Ssaru had the crowd singing along to several songs, including Kaskie Vibaya and Pu Pu Pu.

After a triumphant exit from the stage, Ssaru was showered with unending applause as MC Gogo hyped her in every charming way possible.

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I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the artiste and have a quick powwow about the evening’s performance. Ssaru expressed her gratitude to the audience and urged her critics to give her latest hit, Kaskie Vibaya, featuring Fathermoh, a chance.

This comes after the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) Boss, Ezekiel Mutua, criticized the song for eroding the morality of young listeners.

“I cannot be pigeonholed to only one age group. My audience is diverse, and if Ezekiel Mutua listened to my other songs, like my recent hit with a Rhumba taste, he would judge it differently,” she said.

“I cannot stop creating songs just because one person didn’t like the lyrics or the song. He should, in fact, check out my YouTube channel,” she added.

Revellers at the WRC Safari Rally after-party Hustla Bazaar at Buffalo Mall in Naivasha on June 24, 2023. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO

Furthermore, Ssaru expressed how much fun she had during her Saturday evening performance and gave a shout-out to the organizers.

“From start to finish, it was an enjoyable experience, and the reception from the audience was exciting. I tip my hats off to the organizers,” she said.

During Saturday’s evening performance, several artistes took the stage, including the Buruklyn Boyz. The audience was thrilled and couldn’t resist ululating and showering them with praises.

Buruklyn Boyz performed their unique Kenyan drill music, with one of the standout features being their trendy baggy jeans that are becoming increasingly popular among Gen Zs. Simply put, all performances left everyone grooving and contributed to a memorable party experience.

Bring a to a close the three-day live performances by some of top artistes in the country was PHY who had first free live performance after a long hiatus from music.

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Cindy Jerotich, a University of Nairobi student and partygoer at the event, said her top performances of the evening were from Ssaru and Boutross, despite not being a big fan of Ssaru. She also expressed excitement for the opportunity to be on-stage with several artists during their performances.

“The highlight of my night was sharing the stage with talented artists like PHY, Khaligraph Jones and Femi One,” she said. “Witnessing the fantastic performance from Ssaru and Boutross in the VVIP section was surreal and thoroughly enjoyable,” she said.

Paul Moto, who was also in attendance at the event, said it provided an opportunity for youths to showcase their businesses through the various exhibitions.

“Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the musical performances by the various artistes. What’s more, it’s heartening to see young entrepreneurs attend such an event for free and have a platform to promote their business,” he said.

Meeting the Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Ababu Namwamba, who was also in attendance, was a particularly memorable moment for him.