#StrictlySilk , hosted by The Nest Collective, is Nairobi’s first-ever girls only dance party. Exclusively for women and exclusively by women. Bringing everyone together to eat, drink, dance, and be merry, the event features 6 electric performers on the DJ decks: Ziggie, DJ Coco-em, Shishi, DJ Vidza, DJ Ca$hy, and DJ Miss RAY.
Girls Only (G.O.) entertainment events have become a trendy affair through-out Europe and North America but is still a novelty in this part of the world - East Africa that is and I suspect within greater Africa as well. So when word got out that The Nest Collective were hosting a G.O. affair - " Strictly Silk" featuring an all-star cast of Kenyan female Deejays, I had to engage. I was able to connect and chat with Njeri Gitungo, administrator and production manager for The Nest Collective, the organization behind this unique event.
Good morning Njeri.
Good morning! Oh it’s still morning?
Last time I checked. (Laughter) We had an 11:30am scheduled. Are you in Kenya?
Yes. It’s been such a busy morning, my timing is a bit off (Laughter)
Already, (laughter) this early Monday morning?
Yes (laughter) shoots and things.
OK, good for you!
Yeah busy, busy morning.
Busy is always a good thing. some of us are still trying to get out of bed and jump start the week after a hard weekend (laughter)
Well, it's also December. So It's allowed
Why do I get the impression that you are ever knee deep in some project?
Yes, I work at The Nest Collective and we more than always have a number of programs running. So other than the 'Strictly Silk' event on Friday …
Yes, that event caught my interest.
I hope positive interest.
Yes, I lived in California for a while and G.O. (girls only) events have in the past few years grown to become part of the feature in the entertainment landscape out there. So when I heard that there was one happening in Nairobi, I just had to check up on this.
I'm glad that word is getting out and people are beginning to hear about it. The responses have been Interesting.
So, who is producing this event?
We - as The Nest collective. We are 11 members. We come up with ideas and execute it together. We always get people asking who is the producer or director behind a certain project and I always tell them we The Nest are, as a team. We take collective authorship very seriously.
For this event 'Strictly Silk' - it's the women of The Nest who are behind it. It's produced and organized by women for women. Everyone involved including businesses and the entertainment are women.
I understand that this is also a charity fundraiser
Yes, we are raising money for Jahmby koikai who is also a friend of The Nest. She has been involved In a number of our projects. Her health has not been good for sometime.
The fundraiser wasn't the original intention of the event. But we happened to talk to her during the planning phase and she happened to mention that she was due for her last surgery. We had not planned to charge and we deliberated as to whether we should. This being the first event of its kind, we didn't want to limit the audience from an exciting experience. But then we decided that she is our friend. so why not?
I am aware of Jahmby Koikai and her medical situation. I have been following her story. She is a phenomenal woman, a beautiful soul, I'm praying and rooting for her. I'm glad you - The Nest Collective are supporting her.
Yes, as soon as the idea for a fundraiser for her came up, there was no two way about it. Jahmby has quite a fan base and many people are aware of her plight. So no one would question the credibility of the fundraiser . This is the least we can do for one of our own.
What was the original impulse for a women’s only event?
So we, The Nest collective, had a music project and we released an album back in august titled "Sweet and Sawa", and to promote the album we started putting out Deejay mixes. And we started brainstorming on how we could create a performance out of this, create an experience, a positive space. Have people come out dance and meet other people and this idea of 'Strictly Silk' came up.
We had always wanted to do a - for Women by women experience. The idea of creating a safe space for women. You know as women we have to be always conscious of what we wear, how we carry yourself when out socially.
We have to go out in packs just to look out for one another. We don't get to really let our hair down - express ourselves fully.
I sympathize and this brings me to a subject that I wanted to touch on. The 'mafisi' menace and the prevalent rape culture that is mostly connected to the social scene in Kenya.
Yes, and we envisioned a positive space that can welcome all types of women to truly let their guard down and have fun without worrying about all that other nonsense. An affirmative environment where women can come together, share, encourage and support one another.
I feel that, definitely, yours is a much needed space.
There is also a lot of gate keeping in the event space in Kenya and the gate-keepers are all men, so it's difficult to showcase creative women. Like where else would you get a line up of female deejays ? Are people even aware that we have that many talented women in the industry ?
True! I looked up the lineup and read the bio’s. This was my first introduction to most of them. I can't wait for their sets.
Our intention is not to exclude men. We just wanted to showcase the proficient and talented women we have in this industry. So, definitely next year- 2019, we will have different kinds of events with a mixed audience but this time, for this project, we needed to do this exclusive event, bring our women together and close the year on a high note.
I like that positive exclamation but before we end on that high note, this interview would not be complete if I didn't address the inevitable backlash. I'm sure you have received accusations of having a questionable feminist agenda attached to this event.
Yes, we have already been receiving some negative and some out right hostile responses online. Friends would message me the responses they received after they posted the event on their social pages.
I feel like these men are missing so many layers of this event. Where do you ever find spaces where women can come together and celebrate one another? Where would you get a showcase line up of such incredible women?
It just came to mind, that to this day and for centuries, men have had their gender exclusive clubs where they get together and bond around some theme or activity. So I have to wonder about the suspicion and animosity towards an event, especially one that has such a great cause attached to it.
Yes, a really good cause. Please allow us to create an event where we as women can get together. It shouldn't be a problem for anybody. For all those questioning the exclusivity of this event, you are free to organize an event to your liking.
Bottom line it's all about women coming together to celebrate one another and have a great time!