More than for the festival, they’re ‘Volunteering 4 Life’

There’s more to Roskilde than the music. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here

Skærmbillede 2017-07-05 kl. 22.36.57.pngVolunteering is a key part of Rokilde Festival (photo: Allan Kortbaek)

The patchy weather over the last few days has not swayed the tens of thousands of festival-goers who’ve made their way to this year’s Roskilde Festival for yet another year of merrymaking.  The logistics of organising a festival that houses a crowd of around 130,000 for a week of camping, concerts and debauchery are, as you might imagine, quite eye-opening in themselves.

Fuelled by the efforts of 32,000 volunteers each year, most of whom have volunteered for an average of five festivals, Roskilde Festival is, at its core, a non-profit fuelled by charitable efforts. The event also makes an effort to ameliorate global social issues through numerous dedicated initiatives. Befittingly, this year’s theme is hinged on focusing on cultural inequality, which it hopes to address through art, music, activities and donations.

One of the many organisations present at this year’s festival is the Settle N Share project – an experiment involving communities co-operating to strengthen the unique camp feeling at the event.

Volunteering 4 Life – a youth-based initiative that works to create cultural programs for youth within the fields of sports, music and European youth exchange with a focus on creating a link between Roskilde Festival and the Erasmus + program – is but one of the many initiatives in this year’s Settle N Share.

Propelled by Ishøj Ungdomsskole, this is the second time that the Volunteering 4 Life project will be at Roskilde Festival, having successfully run in 2013 (see below)

Onus on community sharing
This year, Volunteering 4 Life is focusing on educating the youth in volunteering in close collaboration with Roskilde Festival and other partners. According to Raymond Andrews, a benefactor of the youth exchange program, the non-profit, community-centred aims of Roskilde Festival are an ideal platform through which the volunteers of the initiative can gain a hands-on introduction to the philanthropic goals of the event.



Community sharing is one of the core objectives of Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde Festival 

Essentially this entails its 52 volunteers at the festival being introduced to companies such as DXC – a tech multinational typified by high levels of employee retention and a hiring process that doesn’t involve hiring specialists but rather aims to hire based on matching skill-sets, informal or formal, which can be matched with its needs as a business.

The aim here is to inspire and equip the program’s volunteers with informal skills for their career development.

To orchestrate this, app-making and other tech-based knowledge sharing aimed at boosting the competences of the volunteers are central to the work of Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde. Similarly, it is hoped that festival initiatives such as Settle’N Share and REACT (a recycling system) will foster a strong dialogue between some of Roskilde’s aims and the Volunteering 4 Life program’s volunteers, who will work for a period between 24-32 hours during which they will support the needs of other festival-goers while engaging in informal learning experiences.

Beyond Roskilde Festival: providing skills for a competitive labour market

Volunteering 4 Life participants contributing to Roskilde Festival's "Orange Feeling"
Volunteering 4 Life participants contributing to Roskilde Festival’s “Orange Feeling”

Outside of the festival, the Volunteering 4 Life program links to the goals of the Erasmus + mobility program through which it aims to maximise the potential of the youth in an increasingly competitive labour market, typified by a lack of practical expertise and speculation emanating from global financial instability.

Via the aforementioned Erasmus + program, Volunteering 4 Life creates the opportunity for groups of young people aged 13-30 from different countries to meet and live together for up to 21 days – a project dubbed ‘mobility youth exchange’. Other organisations involved in the youth exchange include Battle IT (Estonia), Nordic Heights (Finland), Youth School Vilnius (Lithuania), H2o (Portugal), Atrendia (Spain) and Handicap Team (Sweden) amongst others.

During this time, joint programs centered around workshops, debates, simulations and other activities take place, with the aim of building competences and creating awareness around socially relevant topics.

Visit Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde Festival (you will find them located in the camping area ‘P’) or check out their website for more information about their work.


Roskilde 2017: More than something for The Weeknd

That’s what you call a second act! (photo: Kayla Johnson)

That’s what you call a second act! (photo: Kayla Johnson)

original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here

Canadian R&B act Abel Makkonen Tesfayese (aka The Weeknd) was always going to be one of Roskilde Festival’s highlights in a music line-up that many festival-goers contend is void of veritable headliners this year.
This notwithstanding, there was some confusion as what to expect from the show – would it be a masterclass in Tesfayese’s undeniable vocal prowess or would he wilt in the limelight?

Lukewarm start
Kicking things off later than expected, The Weeknd shook the partisan crowd to life with a performance of his flagship track, ‘Starboy’. A significant screen lag and palpable sound issues marred what was otherwise a befittingly bold opening. This was further diluted by the black and white screen projections against a dark, restless sky.  The lukewarm start dragged past the first few songs before a driven performance of ‘party monster’ changed the direction of the show.

Gone were the insipid black and white screens, duly replaced by rich colours and strong visuals. The sound still wasn’t quite right though and several punters questioned whether what we were hearing was playback or a tone maestro at his recognisable best – pushing his tenor range to the maximum with some mind-blowing falsettos.

Midway through and any doubts as to what we were hearing were consigned to mere memory compliments of an epic rendition of ‘Six Feet Under’ – another of the monumental tunes off Tesfayese’s 2016 album ‘Starboy’.

Cementing his popularity with the crowd, The Weeknd then rolled out a bold performance of  ‘Low Life’ (minus the grunts and barks of Atlanta rapper Future, who features heavily in the studio version).

Spellbinding magic
With the skies darkening and a crescent moon rising low over the trees around the Orange Stage, Tesfaye’s show peaked into top gear, as club grooves such as ‘Secrets’ and the iconic ‘Earned it’, off the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ soundtrack, worked a powerful, spellbinding magic on the indefatigable crowd.

A reminder of The Weeknd’s local popularity came towards the end as his popular party anthem ‘Can’t feel my face’ received unanimous backing from the crowd, who sang along for its entirety.

The Weekend came, saw and conquered Roskilde Festival 2017. If Tesfaye arrived as a Starboy, he left as a legend, carried by cheers for what was quite possibly the biggest crowd this reviewer has seen at the Orange Stage in his eight years at the event.

Roskilde Festival 2017 A-Z day one

Another year, another Roskilde Festival (my 8th one to be precise). Here are my shots from the first day of the event, along with a few general observations. #Rf17 seems to be a lot more formal but that doesn’t neccessarily mean it’s better organised. It’s early on but I have yet to figure this festival out (or I have grown old).

A- Authorities


Rescue services are in full force, which is reassuring for us merrymakers

B – Beer bowling


Beer bowling – a national sport at Roskilde, comme tojours.

C – Can collectors


Can collectors from far and wide

D – Delights


Delights – of the (charming) culinary sort – lots of em!

E – Epic Sax Guy


We found him!

F – Foxes


Where there’s foliage there’s foxes – this one was sat by the train tracks in Roskilde West

G – Gadgets


Gadgets & gizmos galore – Fatboys and fidget spinners are killin’ it at Rf17

H – Happy times


Keep em coming 😉

I – Illimatic fashion


Rf17 is hip ville 2.0

J – Jams


Traffic jams, music jams, people jams (like this one on the bridge over to Roskilde West)

K – Kicks


Some stand out more than others

L – Loopey slogans

You can thank Trump for them later

M – Mobile phones

IMG_1466There are mobiles galore and I am also guilty of reaching into my pocket for mine a bit too often

N – Nosh


Nosh – lots of it, mostly organic

O – Old Gees

IMG_1515.JPGIt’s a festival for the young and old but young at heart

P – Police


There is a heightened police presence this year. I saw police with M16 rifles ( a first), plain clothes police with labradors and police cars driving around

Q – Questions


What are you looking at?

R – Rubbish!


One (wo) man’s treasure, another (wo) man’s trash

S – Skate


The skatepark is less flamboyant this year. Last year’s festival saw Red Bull host a range of engaging activities in my favourite corner of Roskilde West. This year, not much is happening there, though Game Denmark have taken ownership of most of the sporting activities in the rest of the area.

T – Tunnel


The tunnel at Roskilde station – blissful at this moment in time but typically jam-packed

U – Urine


Urine – urine everywhere (but there are more toilets and urinals around)

V – Vans – They are off the wall and über alles


W – Woodstock


Woodstock and Roskilde – not that many parallels but you will find the Woodstock Hummel bus parked in Roskilde West

X – X marks the spot


We all love setting crosses by the names we’d like to see on stage



You really do only live once at Roskilde. Cheesy? – it’s Y, give me a break!

Z – Zzz


Beauty sleep – get lots of it at RF17!

See you out there for more action from the music days from Wednesday onwards. Which bands are on your hit list this year? Here’s a list of my favourites from last year. For more Roskilde Festival pictures, check out my 2015 photo roundup

Capital Fluxus at CPH Dox Awards Ceremony

Pics from Capital Fluxus’ performance at CPH Dox’s Awards Ceremony – held at Charlottenborg Palace, Copenhagen.

As Copenhagen Dox, the city’s largest documentary film festival made its return after a one and a half year hiatus, Capital Fluxus marked their musical versatility with a performance at the festival’s awards ceremony.

Who are Capital Fluxus?

“Capital Fluxus are well on their way to becoming one of Europe’s most interesting hip hop acts – and well, honestly, they already are.” “They respect the basics of hip hop and urban music, and additionally try to shake things up by tossing some actual art into the mix.”

Vice Magazine, Denmark – Read full review here.

For Bitchslap Magazine’s low-down on Capital Fluxus’ first major tune, read here


And here’s a their latest video:

CAPITAL FLUXUS – NOL & SOL from Jacob Schill on Vimeo.

The Kenyan Coast, December 2016

This is a journey back to the country I grew up in — this time round in the company of my girlfriend. I find myself guilty, each and every single day, of forgetting just how beautiful a country it was and still is.

Most people relate to Kenya through the glossy images and videos that travel boards market — or through the stories of children in need of food and a penny or two of your donations during prime time broadcasting. Both scenarios present an exaggerated view of a nation of so many facades.

Our journey begins in Mombasa — Kenya’s second city, which is a loud, polluted mess. Many of its hotels of yesteryear are now a distant flicker of the glorious tourism heyday and now stand crumbling — behemoths under the African sun.

But this is Africa though (TIA), so for every crumbling hotel, there is a fighting soul forking out a living for themselves — making ends meet. There is hope, everywhere — a force that is as constant as the lingering heat and the blue of the ocean.



I am no fan of Mombassa but tuk-tuk rides can be fun. This one was


Mombassa’s Nyali beach is not exactly paradise lost but some of it can be appealing it its own way


Here, you will find overpriced, half- starved camels that suffer in the hot sun to cure your selfie fetishes. I need not add that these mighty beasts are not native to these parts


Nonetheless, perched on their back, as in the Lawrence of Arabia days – you will find one tourist after another who thinks it’s cool to plod along the beach in tow


If you want something a bit more real – wander north to Kilifi – 65 kilometres north of Mombassa. This was taken from the road on the way to my godmother’s house as we ventured inland, past the glittering Kilifi creek


The real magic starts when you venture south though – to Diani and further on, Galu beach- 33 kilometers  south of Mombassa


Daybreak  in these parts is an overture, masterfully woven – the water was still enough to paint on that particular morning


Rupturing the peace ever so slightly, a fishing boat coasted gently along, leaving weak ripples in its wake


Noon, and the overhead sky never looked more divine. There is something pacifying in the shade of a coconut tree


Nothing beats the water though


I am humbled, time and again by these mystical creatures – masters of the seas


We found this sandbank in the middle of the Ocean, a barrier between the reef and the shore that rears its sandy head at low-tide


Come dawn, back at shore and the distant clouds are aflame once again


Clumsy creatures descend from the heavens, strangers in the early night whose arrival on the beach is marked by a short burst of rushing air followed by a thud and the occasional scream.


Dusk turns symphonic just before the curtain call. I will miss these emphatic colours and the coruscating waters of the Indian Ocean. I will miss the smiling people – my people and their ways under the sun

In Search of The Human Scale: Cities That Move at 5 km/h, instead of at 60 km/h

Original article published for The Danish Architecture Centre, available here.

September 22, 2016 /

By Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk

The history of global architecture is replete with examples of monumental constructions. As a civilisation, we often tend to be endeared by that which is mammoth, gargantuan and high-rise; we are a society driven by affection towards that which manifests itself on a grand scale. This is true of the Pyramids of Giza as it is for today’s vast, unending skyscraper skylines of Dubai, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

However, whilst the architectural feats required to raise grand structures such as skyscrapers several hundred feet above ground warrant adulation, there are many who argue that there is an essential element that is often omitted from narratives of this sort.  In hisTED talk held at Copenhagen’s Black Diamond Library in November last year, Danish architect Jan Gehl discussed the need for pedestrian-driven cities that put people at the centre of the town planning narrative. The TED talk reflects some of the construction philosophies that have been at the heart of Jan Gehl’s work over the last forty years.


Jan Gehl at TEDxKEA. TEDxKEA Credit: Daniela De Lorenzo 2015

The Human Scale

According to Gehl, one of the most important elements in the construction of habitats for humanity is what he calls, the human scale – the construction of structures and habitats with humans at the centre of the narrative. Now, whilst this may seem like a given, Gehl argues that modernist (post 1960) architecture and town planning has in fact, eliminated the human scale from the equation, in its bid to build for the modern man.

If we look at the cities before 1960, they were built in small instalments – typically around two building blocks- the street and the square.”/Jan Gehl

These buildings blocks were based on the movement of the feet in the case of the street and the eye in the case of the square.  In other words, the old cities were built for and took their departure in, the body. However, with the expansion of the world and the compatibility between mass production and modernism, the human, scale and in essence the way in which people moved on streets and within squares was forgotten.

For Gehl, what followed was a series of cities and construction projects that looked spectacular from the air but lacked essential functionality at the street level. Combined with the increasing role of the car in society, what followed was a prioritization of vehicle transport over people and pedestrians. Gehl had other plans for his city planning endeavours, however.


It is needless to say that Gehl is most well known for his groundbreaking work on Copenhagen’s pedestrian street, Strøget. At 1.1 km in length, this is Europe’s second longest pedestrian streets after Bordeaux’s Rue Sainte-Catherine and a major tourist attraction. Strøget’s development was also a cornerstone for Copenhagen’s prioritization of bike and pedestrian traffic. However, whilst the street is revered today, this wasn’t always the case. Rioting motorists and death threats to the mayor of Copenhagen in 1962, Alfred Wassard, at the time the idea of a pedestrian-free street was conceived, threatened to derail the project entirely.


None of the cities had any knowledge about how their cities were being used by people but they knew everything about how the traffic used the city…. This gave a fantastic imbalance”

/Jan Gehl, TEDxKEA


Copenhagen’s pedestrian street in the early 1960´s. Credit: Københavns Stadsarkiv 

Gehl was responsible for making recommendations to the mayor at the time, and started studying Strøget in 1962. Upon his recommendations, the street was pedestrianized the very same year on a trial basis. In 1964, this was made permanent. Removing car traffic from this area of the city was a priority in Gehl’s planning narrative at the time. However, Gehl’s subsequent policies and practicies have also had other focus areas embedded within their narratives (such as encouraging the use of bikes)



Copenhagen’s pedestrian street, Strøget, today. Credit: Visit Denmark 2015

Gehl’s Influence Globally

Strøget founded the basis of Copenhagen’s pedestrian-friendly city planning policies, as we know them today. However, Gehl’s influence on humanistic planning also extends to the planning policies of other nations.

For instance, in 2007, Gehl was influential in re-mapping New York’s streets in a more pedestrian-friendly manner. Through his advice to the department of transportation, numerous city planning policies in the area have been made in in the interest of pedestrian-friendly urban architecture. Similarly, Gehl’s work has also been influential in Australia and New Zealand, where he has prepared public life studies for the city centres of Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hobart.

Times Square, pedestrian plaza pre Gehl intervention. Credit: Gehl Architechts, 2010 


Times Square, pedestrian plaza postGehl intervention. Credit Gehl Architechts, 2013
Today, the town planning policies of numerous cities the world over are increasingly concerned with placing pedestrians at the centre of the architectural narrative. This is nothing new in the history of construction, as pre 60´s architectural traditions dictate, so essentially, what is needed, according to Gehl, is a return to some of the architectural paradigms that defined the way we built cities in the past.  This, he argues, creates intimacy and interaction; it creates a human scale that places people at the epicentre of the city and the life around it.


My DNA Journey

A few months ago, I embarked on a special journey with momondo – a simple DNA test. As part of the travel search engine’s The DNA Journey campaign, thousands the world over have taken DNA tests to ascertain their heritage.

And whilst it is important to point out that one’s DNA results are based on a database of people that the company that conducts the tests, Ancestry DNA, has built up, there is a high degree of certainty that the results show are accurate.

Prior to taking the test, I imagined that my results would contain DNA strands from numerous African and European countries (I was born in Kenya, to a Kenyan father and a Danish mother). My results (shown at the bottom of this post), not only confirmed my expectations, they also revealed that 9% of my DNA hails from the Middle East. This was a surprise, albeit a welcome one, particularly at a time when the world is at loggerheads with The Middle East, its religious practices and ways of life. The term “mixed race,” which is the manner in which I choose to describe myself gained even more meaning, in a world that is still very linear in its depiction of culture.

Let me illustrate: popular media continues to describe Barack Obama as the first “black” president of the United States, yet I am sure that if he were to be described more objectively, for example with regard to his DNA, different, arguably more accurate terminology would be used. Then again, would it? Our world still fails to recognize the right of ethnic minorities to define themselves and countries the world over, staring with the “United” States of America are split along racial and ethnic lines.


Black, White, Mixed Race, Arab? What’s in a picture? 


More often than not, we are all described from the cultural relativism of the dominant hegemonic groups that rule the world, which, in our modern day consists primarily of fattened middle aged white men in suits. This hegemonic group is the very same clique of collaborators that refuses to pass legislation to curb weapon ownership. By and large it also keeps women, ethnic and sexual minorities out of its hegemonic influence.

This is a truth that saddens me, as a true citizen of the world. However, I believe that the world is moving forward and that the status quo is being challenged, every single day. Brands such as momondo, like United Colours of Benetton before them (see my essay on UCB’s advertising campaign and my take on why Benetton, not Coca Cola actually gives a damn about the world) are challenging the power balance each and every day with examples of purpose based marketing such as The DNA Journey (see below), and governments the world over, that continue to take strides in the right direction, on a legislative level at least. (well, maybe not in Putin’s Russia).

The true step towards bridging the gaps that divide us globally lies in a basic and fundamental recognition of the fact that our differences are source of all of our strengths. I believe that understanding how to embrace differences, cultural or otherwise, represents a genuine solution to addressing the challenges of the future.

Here are my DNA results in full:

European: 48%

Scandinavia: 30%
Great Britain: 14%
Iberian Peninsula: 2 %
Western Europe < 1%
Finland / Northwest Russia: <1%

African: 43%

Africa Southeastern Bantu: 23%
Mali: 5%
Nigeria: 3%
North Africa: 3%
Cameroon / Congo: 3%
Central Africa: 2%
Benin / Togo: 2%
Senegal: <1%

Middle Eastern: 9%


Join momondo’s The DNA Journey here and read more about corporate video production in big brands here.

The W.H.Y Community

The W.H.Y community webpage was designed with a mid to top-tier management clientele in mind, under the auspices of the consultancy firm, Core and Company, who I interned with at the time.

As creative director and copywriter for this project, I was tasked with building the webpage, setting a tone of voic, finding imagery and creating content relevant for the aforementioned target group. The screenshots below are examples of the finished product


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How to Make Sense of The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Original article written for The W.H.Y Community, available here

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Keeping up with The Pace of Change

We live in a world in which the pace of change is unprecedented, thanks to exponential shifts triggered by contemporary automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. What is the fourth industrial revolution and why is it crucial for us to understand its implications on our lives?

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We truly live in a spectacular era. Yes, we are constantly reminded of the perils of our world – terrorism, threats of economic crisis, unprecedented immigration patterns and tense superpower relations. Whichever way you lean politically, the chances are that these are issues that will feature prominently in your life over the next few years. Yet, there are equally favourable chances that companies such as Bitcoin, Boom Financial, CommonBond, DriveNow, Prosper, Airbnb, Tesla, Oculus Rift,DriveNow, Google and Uber may also shake things up in your life in the not too distant future if they are not doing so already. True to the age old adage, there is no opportunity without a gamble.

Whilst action is indeed needed when it comes to addressing the aforementioned challenges, we, as a human race today, stand on the cusp of changes in our history that are so profound that ”there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of The World Economic Forum.

 What is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?

You may be wondering where such an assertion, as spectacular as the very changes it describes, takes its point of departure. Well, let’s start with the device that you’re using to read this article. Within the next 20 years, this device, be it a computer, tablet or Smartphone, is going to be at the heart and soul of the shift in the manner in which we interact with the world around us. As concepts such as the Internet of things, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, quantum computing, energy storage and others flare up from being prospects in their infancy to being the driving forces of our world, we can well and truly talk of what has come to be dubbed, the fourth industrial revolution.

Yet this is not a revolution of steam and industry – of years of experimentation and incremental change. It is not a revolution of grease, tar and concrete – this is an explosion, a stylish matrix of happenings that can and will change the status quo, if it is managed properly.

Like its predecessors, the fourth industrial revolution looks set to bring a wave on unprecedented changes in its wake. However it differs in its scope and scale in that when the technologies described previously work together, the results that they will produce are exponential as opposed to linear, creating effects that will alter what, how and who we are. Moreover, this fusion of technologies will, for the first time in history, blur the lines between physical, digital and biological spheres. But what does all this mean for you?

 Making Sense of The Fourth Industrial Revolution

As spectacular as the promises and the potential that the fourth industrial revolution are, we are, as it stands, at a point in history where we have yet to comprehend what exactly the revolution is and what it means for us. Our rudimental knowledge of how to respond to the technological forces driving the world forward is therein a limitation to the impact that these very forces can have on our governments, companies, and life, as we know it.

The sheer scope, scale and pace of change orchestrated by the technological changes inherent to the fourth industrial revolution are vast and difficult to grasp. Therefore, the key to implementing them successfully lies in LEADING THE CHANGE in a strategic and holistic manner. Those with the drive and the means to push for change need to:

  • Understand the scope of the technology driving the fourth industrial revolution
  • Grasp the pace of change that this revolution promises and scale it down to context-specific understandings
  • Generate a dialogue around this revolution that allows for knowledge sharing, game-changing conversation and immersive experiences that create and nurture an understanding of how to move forward

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The W.H.Y. aims to gather the talents and forces that can execute this paradigm shift and give them a framework within which they can craft their potential, channel their creativity, interact with like-minded people than can and ultimately, change the world. Our ability to do so ultimately depends on how well we keep up with the blistering pace of change. It is this ability to manage and respond to change that must lead the case for exponential change, which needs to be holistic and digested into context-specific scenarios if we hope to address the perennial alienation of the underprivileged.