Na Ni Who

A community becomes confident when it is recognized by other communities.”

This statement, made by a Nubian elder in 2011, led The GoDown to explore and further refine the question of identity and belonging in the Nairobi and its diverse neighbourhoods.  

 The Nai Ni Who? Festival (Slang meaning ‘Who is Nairobi?’) is an exploration of the city, celebrating the good, the bad and the possibilities of Nairobi through the eyes and experiences of its residents.

The festival highlights the city’s communities and 'hoods' each have their unique characteristics, those factors in their histories, their people, and their physical spaces that make them stand out from others. This diversity contributes to the city’s vibrant character. 


One form of the festival led participants to 12 of the city’s neighbourhoods where they participated in a wide range of activities – among them concerts, soccer tournaments and walking tours.

The members of the communities curated the festival in their neighbourhoods, identifying the activities which mattered most to them. They went on to organize the neighbourhood activities with some guidance from The GoDown. The objective was to create space for the teams to see the cultural and commercial value of the festival and attend to the question of sustainability by sharing knowledge on festival organization which they would use should they choose to run the festivals independently in the future. 

The idea for a collaborative artistic and cultural festival about Nairobi arose from meetings between the GoDown Arts Centre and its architectural partner, White Arkitekter, in response to the need for more discourse about the city. The GoDown and White presented the Nai Ni Who? Festival and the overall GoDown Transformation Project at both the Sixth and Seventh World Urban Forums.