The popular meeting place in Nairobi where almost everybody from East Africa went to, is no more.
Nairobi City Council has pulled down the iconic Garden Square Bar and Restaurant, a famous eatery which was also the major lounge for popular music bands, including the famous Orchestra Virunga, Super Mazembe, Les Mangelepa and Les Wanyika, to mention a few.
Even Tanzanian bands such as DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra once performed there.
East Africa’s all time popular song, ‘Viva Christmas,’ by Ilunga wa Ilunga with his Baba National band featuring Kasongo wa Kanema, was composed there.
George Kalombo Mwanza the husband of Hidaya (who was featured in Pepe Kalle’s Shikamoo Seye) also frequented the place.
Twenty years before becoming President of the United States of America, Barack Obama was seen at the Garden Square in 1987 during his time in Nairobi.
Garden Square is also where most musicians from East African countries like Uganda and Tanzania as well as travelling pop groups from the former Zaire (current DR Congo) who set base for a while to entertain Nairobi residents.
It was established more than 50 years ago, in 1970 by one Armstrong Kasuku, a Kenyan music promoter who was immortalized in the Les Wanyika’s popular 1978 hit, ‘Kasuku.’
Samba Mapangala who was invited in Zanzibar to perform at the Sauti za Busara concert in 2009, took time from the Isles to visit Garden Square in Nairobi, reminiscing the past when his band, Orchestra Virunga used to perform there in the mid-eighties.
Famous Tanzanian guitarist, Abbu Omar says the Garden Square in Nairobi was the portal through which he got to fly to Japan, advancing his musical career to international audience.
Reports from Nairobi indicate that, Garden Square had to be brought down due to slumping business.
Music and related showbiz had been declining with time, as live performing bands disappeared.
Later, including a few years ago, the joint served as a meeting place for fundraisers and communal meetings, including funeral arrangements.
However, with the emergence of new digital communication platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram, coupled with their related online groups, everything started taking place virtually.
Garden Square used to stand near the City Hall, in fact, right opposite the office of Governor Johnson Sakaja.
The pulling down of Garden Square in the Nairobi CBD brought tears of melancholy to the eyes of veteran Nairobi City dwellers.
It was a painful reminder of the demolition of other popular public entertainment spots such as ‘Simmers,’ club, along Kenyatta Avenue and the flying saucer shaped Florida 2000 Night Club.
As for the Garden Square, speculations have that the land on which the popular hang-out joint used to stand, has been sold off to some foreign investors.
A few months ago, Nairobi’s legendary hotel, The Hilton also closed shop in the city.