The inception of Safaricom Jazz Festival in 2014, set the pace for Jazz Music in the Kenyan scene, connecting people through music, growing the jazz fanbase and above all giving back to the society through nurturing talent.
Bringing you the very best of local and international jazz music with amazing performances from our very own Jacob Asiyo, Kavutha Mwanzia, Edward Parseen, Afro Sync Band, James Gogo, Nairobi Horns Project, Shamsi Music, Eddie Grey, and Chris Bittok, Safaricom Jazz Festival is a marked event for your calendar.
Since its launch, Safaricom International Jazz Festival has raised over KES 37 million from proceeds of the event, funds that have been used to transform the lives of 1500 young boy and girls through music, under The Art Of Music Foundation dubbed Ghetto Classics.
“Ghetto Classics is a social project to teach young people music. We started off in Korogocho with a priest in a Parish where I was and just 14 students. We target children from underprivileged backgrounds to teach music there through our community centres one in Korogocho and another in Mukuru, and sometimes we go to schools with children from humble backgrounds,” said Elizabeth Njoroge Ghetto Classics Project Director.
Music has been an important tool in helping the students in overcoming challenges that they face in life as the children are taught disciplined kind of music, expanding their horizons through exposure and giving them a sense of belonging in the society. The Art of Music Foundation has played a key role in teaching them music, taking them through school and providing for their daily needs. These students have performed locally and internationally in various occasions.
“We ensure as much as we can that every child is able to go to school. We receive so much help from our partners, well-wishers and individuals in our operations. I&M has paid most of our school fees, Our instruments are insured by ICEA insurance, individuals have helped us in kind and with money, even International schools too. Someone has even donated uniforms for our kids. They have really helped us keep the children in school, providing them with everything they need from stationery to a roof over their heads,” she adds.
“70 percent of the students who have gone through the system are giving back to the foundation as tutors and mentors after we take them through the teacher training program,” she mentions.
With over ten years of working with young people, Ms. Elizabeth notes that it has been very fulfilling, but full of challenges along the way. The environment has not been very friendly considering it is in the heart of Korogocho slum prone to violence, gangs, and fragile homes and in the face of indiscipline, she has been forced to temporarily suspend some of her students. Also, the resources are not enough to oversee its smooth operation.
“In as much as we get revenues from Safaricom Jazz Festival, its not just about the money. We need instruments, the instruments need maintenance. We don’t have enough. Those who have already gone through the system need a guide on how to live a valuable life, but there are not enough resources,” she says.
Incorporating people with disabilities has not been very easy, but there are measures to polish that up.
“We barely have enough walk-ins from people with disabilities. We have not done a very good job at it because our facilities are not good enough. But we have given them opportunities. But for the few cases, we have had, the children have turned out well. There is a child with Polio who plays percussions. We need to actively look into this concern,” she admits.
The Art of Music Foundation is looking to open music centers everywhere to give every young person with passion in music to get platform while encouraging those who have made it through the program to support others not necessarily through Ghetto Classics.