Ghetto Classics shifting the slum narrative through Jazz –

HomeAboutTech & BusinessLIFESTYLEPhotography/FashionPOETRY LIFESTYLE Ghetto Classics shifting the slum narrative through Jazz June 5, 2017

I was seated on my Maasai shuka next to the big and colorful stage. A stage shared by prolific Jazz artists and instrumentalists who inspire and entertain the crowd through the music that moves. Then a group of young boys and girls in white Safaricom t-shirts filled the upper part of the stage. Their instruments were massive and most of them seemed too young for such. Then some guy came in front holding a shiny metallic thingy. All over the sudden, a soothing sound or rather an arranged sound crinkled my muscles and everything on my body relaxed. The music was like some sort of massage and a happy pill at the same time. I tell you what, I’ve never seen such a quiet and attentive crowd. The classic kids were able to control the jazz enthusiasts and everybody’s head swayed each time a divine tune took the lead.

Ghetto Classics at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival

The kids that moved the audience at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival are not from the renown international schools that offer music classes. These kids come from one of Kenya’s biggest slum which houses idlers and petty thieves. The slum has close to 300,000 urban poor and 5 satellite areas around Nairobi. Slum life is often bleak and if there’s one thing that can keep many of the kids in check is school and natural talents. Otherwise many have fallen into a life of crime.

Ghetto Classics was founded by Elizabeth Njoroge. It mentors and trains over 200 kids in Korogocho, and over 600 in satellites areas around Nairobi and Mombasa. The foundation uses music education to provide the youth with opportunities to better themselves and their community. Ghetto classics also offers the kids a sense of community, a sense of family and a positive outlook towards the future and life in general. The family love relieves them from the slum harshness.

They have dedicated teachers who instill life skills lessons that come with the discipline of studying art music.

Stephen Kamau, a cellist at Ghetto Classics is a high school student and the foundation has opened his world to reach for his dreams. He joined the team in 2014 and through his art, he was able to express himself before the president of the Republic of Kenya. “I enjoy performing to the poor…music has helped me in many things and I have also met many artists including Maya, a cellist from Izrael.” Stephen said.

To uplift the community and the foundation, all the proceeds from the Safaricom Jazz festival go to Ghetto Classics. These proceeds go into facilitating the programme. Instruments are purchased, mentorship is offered as well as books are provided for the talented kids. Safaricom has so far handed over more than Kshs. 19 million, including a Kshs. 7.1million in 2016 from the Jazz Festival. From this year’s Safaricom Internation Jazz Festival, Safaricom issued a Cheque of Kshs 17 million to the programme up from Kshs 12 million raised during the 2015-2016 edition.


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