We had the good fortune of connecting with Simon Okelo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Simon, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The Madaraka Festival was started because of the desire to use the power of music to bring change to communities in Africa where youth lacked music instruments, video and music production gears, and also to give youth a creative outlet and a platform created by African people for people of African descent.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My name is Simon Javan Okelo. I grew up in the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya, serving as the Field Director of Solace International and Co-Director of the Young Generation Centre from 2002-2010 where I directed humanitarian projects in Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, and South Sudan. I also worked as a DJ and producer, organizing Unite The People concerts in 2008 in the wake of post-election violence and founding One Vibe Africa.

I came to the US in 2010, and I have since organized events and digital campaigns celebrating the African diaspora locally and globally. For example, since 2014 I have organized the Madaraka Festival at The Museum of POP Culture headlined by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sauti Sol, Blitz The Ambassador, Rocky Dawuni, Meklit Hadero, Nik West, Naomi Wachira, Karun, and other renowned Grammy award-winning artists.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would first take my best friend to the House of Blues in Dallas for the Sauti Sol concert on May 24th, from there I would go to Rafiki Restaurant for some Kenyan food, and then after that I would take them to Fredy Muk’s recording studio and after that visit the radio show hosted by Ivy Awino.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to all the artists, volunteers, sponsors and partners, and attendees of the Madaraka Festival.

Website: https://simonjavanokelo.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/okelojavan/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-okelo-15383417/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OkeloJavan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OkeloJavan

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCovl7-Zh1rM5l5ZvWHein5Q

Image Credits
Carlos Cruz

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.