Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Madaraka Festival Aims to Empower Women

Madaraka Day is important to Kenyan culture given that it is a celebration of Kenya’s attainment of self rule from the United Kingdom, and Seattleites have a chance to experience that culture through the celebration of Madaraka Day at the Experience Music Project Museum. The festival stems from empowerment, connection and music and hopes to celebrate the influence of the arts on individuals and communities. This year’s theme is women’s empowerment.

“In Africa, especially in the community that I come from, there is conditioning that women come second,” said Simon Okelo, One Vibe’s executive director and Madaraka Festival’s Seattle organizer.

Okelo believes that this event needs to be used as a platform for discussing important issues. This year’s musical lineup will feature a predominantly female lineup. Specifically, it includes: Owuor Arunga, Choklate, D’bi Young Anitafrika, Nik West, Runka and Kouyaté Arts.

“I think the music festival will represent and showcase the really successful, very strong African women artists who are also very active in their community,” said Eliana Olais, a Seattle U alumi and member of the event planning team for the festival. “I think it’s very important to showcase these leaders, especially for the children that are in the program for people they can look up to.”

Okelo’s mother was raised in Kisumu, Kenya, the town that One Vibe is now based in. In 1997, his mother fought to start the orphanage home that the organization’s programs are now based out of. Okelo’s vision of his mother as a strong woman that helped give his organization a home helped inspire this year’s theme.

Okelo describes his movement as consisting of people who like to face problems head-on. They are not waiting for someone to help them— they are helping themselves. The Madaraka festival at the EMP has been a tool for the movement to fundraise their programs in Kenya, and each year the organization sets a goal for the festival.

“This years event is geared towards fundraising to help students participate in both education and One Vibe’s music and arts programs,” said One Vibe’s volunteer and social media coordinator, Mintwab Zemeadim.

In the past, the organization has been extremely successful reaching its goals for the festival. In 2014, they covered the cost of running education, music and arts programs in Kenya for one year from that event’s proceeds alone. They also built a music production studio. The next year the organization was able to create a film production studio.

This year, organizers hope to strengthen their work in Kenya by sponsoring children to move forward with their academic education following a year of music and arts programs with One Vibe. The ultimate mission is similar to Seattle U’s—to develop the whole person. They also hope to develop a music and arts center that serves as a model that could be replicated in other parts of the world. Only $78 pays for a child to go to high school and participate in these these artistic activities.

Another of the Madaraka Festival’s goals is to create a bridge between Seattle and Kisuma by allowing artists from both places the chance to to collaborate on projects and events, create music and produce films together, thus empowering themselves and each other.

“Madaraka is that type of an event where we see that there’s a need for us to collaborate. There’s a need for us to give other young people an opportunity to do things that are positive in their lives instead of being drowned in drugs and violence,” Okelo said.

Along with a benefit concert, there will also be an artisan market where tables will be set up for artists in order to support local businesses. There will be about 20 tables and vendors will be selling jewelry and clothing. There will also be other organizations promoting their movements.

Tickets for the benefit concert and artisan market are $25 and all proceeds go towards supporting One Vibe Africa and the youth the organization serves. The event is available to all ages.

Tess may be reached at [email protected]

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