Written by Kafui Offori
Welcome back from the holidays! It’s a new year and a new month, and as we continue to set our intentions and prepare for 2024, we would also love to take a look back at one of our MAJOR highlights of 2023: a successful execution of the Adventures Live! x The Spread Pod’s ‘Sexual Utopia’ Festival! A huge thank you to all who made it, and for those who could not, don’t fret: we go again later this year. Enjoy!
Nairobi is a great city to experience the most wonderful events, and having been to a number of them in my time in Kenya, I think I can say on some authority that you’d be hard-pressed to find many as well-organised and well-curated as the 2023 edition of ‘Sexual Utopia.’ The list of superlatives roll off the tongue pretty easily: educational (as always), engaging, transformative, inclusive, SEXY, and just a whole lot of fun! By the end of Day Two, there really was a tangible feeling of gratitude and immense satisfaction in the air and around anyone leaving those grounds. We had all just had yet another experience to last us months – maybe even the entire year until the next edition – and we were content, and very grateful.
‘Sexual Utopia’ 2023 marked the second time the Adventures Live! festival (from Ghana) was collaborating with Kaz Entertainment and the Spread Pod (from Kenya). Having put up 3 successful editions in Accra from 2019 to 2021, the Adventures train’s move to Nairobi has been seamless. Last year’s theme, which was centred around the building of a Sexual Utopia, was maintained for this second collaboration, with specific focus this time around on ‘Compelling Freedom and Liberation.’ It did not disappoint.
There were slight concerns of rain the weekend of the event, as the weather in Nairobi had taken a damper turn for a number of weeks, but the morning of Saturday November 25th came with the sun smiling the hardest it had for days. Nairobi weather is as unpredictable as Janelle Monae’s next move, but by the time participants began arriving at the Ngong Racecourse, it was safe to assume that the nature gods had got us. Festival goers were quickly and efficiently checked in at the gate and immediately ushered inside. I was quite giddy as I was being let in, can’t even lie – this event has become a highlight of my year for 5 years now, and I just could not wait!
The spread on the grounds was impressive. The vendors were already set up, with businesses like Noniscrafts, who make high quality crochet wear; G-Spot Sex Toys, with their wide array of goodies to choose from; and everyone’s favourite pick-me-up brand, The Happy Company, collaborated with the Adventures From the Bedrooms of African Women to pleasantly whip up the kink in us, with their ‘Spank Me Happy’ spanking paddles and stickers. The food stalls were also prepped and ready. I was already having a hard time resisting the call of Mama Rocks and their sizzling burgers on one side, while the grills on the other side did not spare me that seductive aroma of freshly made nyama choma. When I tell you I was ready to spend my money almost immediately…
The event was kicked off by our charismatic MCs Kigezo (Uganda/Kenya) and Akosua (Ghana) just a little later than advertised. Adventures co-founder, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, set the ball rolling as moderator of the first panel, and had the unenviable task of dissecting our theme and setting the tone for the rest of the festival. The opening panel consisted of social justice advocate Naike Ledan (who came all the way from Haiti); festival fave and trans woman writer Solange; disability rights activist Lizzie Kiama; care and pleasure practitioner Chido; and one-half of the adult film entertainment duo everyone was excited to see, King Noire.
The panel was more than up to the task of breaking down what a sexual utopia meant to them. For Naike, it meant understanding sex as was in a precolonial reality; our ancestral view of sex before whiteness came for everything. For Lizzie, it was about experiencing freedom without judgement. Chido’s view of a sexual utopia was one of an understanding and exploration of self, a sentiment echoed by King Noire, who described it as truly honest self-expression.
Our panellists also gave us recommendations on how to compel freedom and liberation, with Solange’s advice being that we live our lives trying to reach one person at a time in our families, friend groups and communities. The more we do that, the more people get acquainted with realities they are not accustomed to in small bubbles, and with time these bubbles will connect. All the panellists agreed on one thing though: that safe spaces like this event were crucial in creating pockets of utopia in these increasingly repressive times.
A slight change this year was in how performances were arranged in the programme. Whereas we had all the ‘serious time’ happen before ‘play time’ at the last edition, this year we were treated to entertainment after each panel. Crowd favourite Tapiwa kicked us off with another spell-binding (pun very much intended) performance of rope play, along with partner and frequent collaborator Chido. I have seen Tapiwa do this so many times now, but each time feels like a new experience. This time, he elicited the help of our first panellists, and they proved able assistants to what was a wholesome performance.
Read the rest of the festival recap here.