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Every night, Dagobert Restaurant & Pizzeria, a Turkish-owned establishment in Stockholm, Sweden, transforms into a Kenyan club. Named after Kenya’s second-largest city, Club Mombasa Stockholm is now the meeting point for Kenyans living in Sweden.
On a cold late winter night last February, Kenyans, including Kenya’s ambassador to Sweden Dr Joseph K. Sang, packed the venue to launch Club Mombasa. It is situated along Roslagsgatab street in the Stockholm’s city centre.
There were plenty of activities — some chitchat, dance, laughter and hugs. Kenyan DJ Frank, formerly of Mamba Village and now based in Sweden, played a good mix of African songs ranging from rhumba to popular Kenyan hits.
Kenyan businessman and music promoter Clay Onyango is the brains behind the launch of Club Mombasa. Inspired by the need to create a space for Kenyans to connect without prejudice, he says: “Kenyans are indirectly discriminated elsewhere. ‘All tables are booked,’ or ‘you’re not dressed appropriately’ are some of the things we are sometimes told when out just to have a great night.”
Clay has lived in Sweden with his family since 1991, and has set up a moving company: Orkarinte. His office is a block away from Dagobert Restaurant. He sealed a deal to transform the restaurant into a Kenyan club every night, “with Friday nights mainly focusing on Kenyan music.”
Beaming at the success of Club Mombasa, Clay says: “Word went round and we even attracted other Africans who aren’t from Kenya. I didn’t even know Ambassador Sang would come.”
Unlike some European cities, there are no other known Kenyan clubs or restaurants in Stockholm. For a Kenyan visiting Sweden like me, it was refreshing to have a Kenyan experience away from home.
Osore Ondusye, a retired Maths and English Kenyan teacher, is married to a Finnish woman and has been living in Stockholm for 30 years. This is an event he couldn’t miss. The 65-year-old says: “Before tonight, Kenyans in Sweden hardly met. Kenyans mostly know of get-togethers via a website: Kenya Stockholm Blog, established about 20 years ago.”
At Club Mombasa, I asked Dr Sang a few questions about his presence at the launch but he said he would respond during working hours at the embassy.
The following Monday morning, I caught up with the ambassador at his spacious office along Birger Jarlsgatan. He was now dressed in a suit.
“The launch of Club Mombasa has left me very happy; I would like to see more of that. Plus, Kenyan music is fantastic. We encourage diasporans to set up Kenyan clubs and restaurants and more businesses,” he said.
This June, the annual Swahili Culture event in Stockholm — working towards bringing Kenyans together while promoting an East African culture in Sweden — makes a return. The Embassy of Kenya in Sweden has collaborated with the embassies of DRC, Tanzania, Congo and Rwanda to curate Swahili Culture. Dr Sang says: “It’s not just about promoting food, music, film, art and fashion but also celebrating Swahili. We encourage Kenyans here to speak, and teach their children Swahili.”
The just-concluded Kenya Diaspora Easter Investment Conference 2015 (March 31 – April 2) held the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club, Nairobi, similarly challenged Kenyans in the diaspora and entrepreneurs to boost their enterprises and harbour ambitions of developing large economies in and outside Africa.
– Daily Nation