[ This post comes from my #WierdButTrue Series, a journey through the juxtaposition and contradiction that life is. It could also pass for straight is relative ].
I have had a love hate relationship with music. As far as I can remember, I broke voice early so I was chased out of the school choir at class 6, since I couldn’t fit in soprano or alto, neither tenor nor bass. Through out primary school, I never sang in the school choir, but I composed a lot of music for the Child To Child Club Choir (alongside my then squeeze, Ikuyu aka Fish, story for another day).
Well no one else came close to when I recited poems or wrote compositions. In the then Mbooni division, when some titles were sounded in athletics and ball games, everyone knew that Mwendwa wa Joachim would take away the recitals. There is always this little gossip that exists in the village, so you know what to expect at whatever events. Never been much of a sporty, tried it with cycling, but I have done quite a bit in the creative and cultural space.
Interestingly, my Child to Child choir was a success, probably one of my friends Jayne could say a thing or two. we were good. I met her and another colleague who liked my work so much that he offered to secure me a place in Nairobi school, but he unfortunately died before I got to that point. Ours was a practical/hands on/rudimentary choir made with zero musical experience. But it was gem. We sang all manner of remixes, anything, including “Wakulima, Ongezeni Kilimo, wananchi wote wawe na afya bora – farmers, add more farming, so that citizens can get healthy“, any Kenyan would remember the song. Its not even on youtube…
With our Child To Child choir, we traveled the country Kenya for exchange with other youth. One memorable moment was when we went all the way to Ruika (some place in Embu, early 90’s) to sing music about eating balanced diet and washing hands after toilet. That should mark my first interaction with development work, but lets shelve that story for another #WierdButTrue session. Nevertheless, at church, I played drums and my dad (read church choir conductor) could often snatch them from me to punish me for never attending the mandatory choir practice.
Suffice to say that my dad is a renowned choir master with several trophies under his belt, my 4 sisters have all sang in the choir, all my 3 brothers play drums, my nephew it trying out the keys, but all these have been done in the confines of the church. Secular music and gospel music should not mix. It is wrong to play a secular tune in a gospel place, but gradually, it has become acceptable to play a gospel track in a secular place.
Well, I stepped out and ventured on the other side of things, what most of us would call secular music. But then, in as much as my dad chased me away from music for my lack of voice, aptitude, dedication, at high school he insisted on doing something different.
>> He took me to 2 different secondary schools and in each of those, he keenly ensured that I study music but I left both schools and dropped music as a subject <<
I took music for 2 years of my formative (high) school years and felt like it was not my thing. I went into journalism and drama then I quit playing drums. The next I remember getting my hands on music again was when I tried to DJ for the first time – when I turned 18, at the Christmas party that followed our clearing high school – just when you have become a young adult, its like when you get license to mess with the world – and for sure, we did it reel to reel – straight from the cassette.
Today, my hands are deeply in music, digging hard to discover, rework and publish the future sound of Benga. Spending every ounce of reserve energy into finding the intersection between Benga and Electronic Music. Studying keenly, self educating, researching, organizing, producing – and all that the old man does is – sit,watch, listen, read, smile and occasionally laugh out loud – at what became of the son.
[to be continued]