Facilitation of Cultural Exchanges & Matchmaking
8 Aug 2023

EU-Kenya Music Xchange: supporting music and cultural exchange with Kenya

Throughout the last sixty years, Kenya’s music sector has witnessed an impressive transformation. From the initial years of independence in 1963 until now, Kenyan music has embarked on a long journey, enhancing the country’s cultural legacy, and aiming at the international music scene.  

During the initial post-independence era, Kenya’s musical landscape focused on traditional folk melodies, mirroring the diverse ethnic communities, and fostering a sense of unity and cultural pride.  The turn of the millennium brought a further step to Kenya’s music industry, as the internet and social media provided unprecedented platforms for Kenyan artists to display their talent to a global audience. Did Kenyan artists get recognition and exposure? Easier said than done.

While African Pop Music is making waves worldwide – with Nigeria and South Africa leading the Spotify charts with genres such as afrobeats and amapiano, as evidenced by the Forbes Africa in 2022 and Spotify in 2023 –  Kenya still has not gotten the attention it deserves in the African Pop Music discourse.

Taking that into consideration the Cultural Relations Platform, jointly with the EU Delegation to Kenya, launched the EU-KENYA Music Xchange, an activity to support Kenyan artists and foster collaborations aiming at strengthening the Kenyan sound at an international level.

Abdi Rashid Jibril and Patrick De Groote, two experts hired by the CRP, conducted a mapping, identifying emerging Kenyan artists who later engaged in capacity building trainings in the area of music. The artists based in Nairobi were invited to an open lecture with a panel on international touring. A selected jury proposed a pool of artists, of which the facilitators selected 15 to take part in an intensive 2-day workshop – a unique opportunity for professional development, cultural exchange, and career mentoring. Ultimately, a showcase platform was provided for the selected artists to perform.

The Kenyan music industry has been attempting to elevate the nation’s cultural narrative on the global stage. The Cultural Relations Platform is committed to creating a stand for capacity building and contributing to the next generation of Kenyan artists.

Our experts for this project

Abdi Rashid Jibril

Abdi Rashid has a music presenting company called Roots International that is responsible for the production of a weekly music series in Nairobi called Thursday Nite Live.  His company has also produced many concerts featuring African and African Diaspora artists in various venues around Nairobi  under the brand “Live in Nairobi” and “Cool Waters Jazz & Roots Festival.” 

A student of percussion since 1987 with a background in Afro Cuban, Brazilian and West African Percussion with experience playing in large ensemble format and as a band member in jazz and fusion combos along over 20 years of experience of crafting percussion instruments and craft workshop instruction.

Patrick de Groote 

Patrick is an experienced artistic director and festival organiser, with a large international professional network.

He’s head of ‘Sfinks Mixed‘, an open air global music festival attracting over 100.000 people annually. This year’s edition featured Yemi Alade, Salif Keita, and lots of new talent worldwide. He also directs the multi-disciplinary summer festival ‘zomer van antwerpen‘ in Belgium programming over 800 events per year for an audience of +300.000 people.

Patrick is also consulting and co-organising various international events.