Reflections on the pilot phase by Pato

Here are the reflections of Patrick Ondiek, our Singing Wells videographer.  (He has camera envy!)




Pato’s reflections of Singing Wells – March 2011


Day 1: Meeting my new love [CANON 5D CAMERA]

It’s Sunday March 27th  2011 and I am taking my sweet time getting to the studio knowing that I will find the engineers from Ketebul Music being briefed by Jimmy and Andy from Abubilla Music on the recording equipment that would be used in the field. Unfortunately it was only Steve from Ketebul Music and our director Tabu who had arrived. I was introduced to Jimmy and honestly I was expecting him to be a much older guy. I had met Andy before.

Back to my first encounter with my new love. I had read about her on the internet and I met her before through a friend but he never introduced me to her but he gave me her name [CANON 5D CAMERA] Jimmy kept a close eye on her and he asked me to stop drooling all over the place because she belonged to him and only him.


The second car was delivered and Maddo, chairman for Ketebul Music would be the pilot for the V.I.P car. He had to leave because he had to drop the owner of the car and left me with his car, but not without detailed instructions on how to handle it and with a stern warning: don’t visit your girls friends with my car! We met them later that evening at a restaurant called Sippers in Hurlinghan, having drinks and enjoying live music by Samba Mapangala, Winyo  and Ayub Ogada. Jimmy was not aware that I kept on peeping to see the images my love was capturing.

Day 2: Off to Malindi

I was up by 5:00am in the morning, and was all showered and packed shortly after.I had breakfast and by 6:30 I was out of the house. Nairobi has serious traffic jams and to get somewhere on time one has to leave early.

When I arrived at the studio Steve was already there and the rest of the team joined us later and as per Steve’s itinerary we left at 12:00 sharp hihihi. We split in two groups, four people per car. The first car was being driven by our director Tabu and he had Jimmy, Andy,and  Willy Bembe as their radio and entertainment. The V.I.P car was driven by Maddo our chairman with Steve our project manager, and Winyo  our influences artist who also doubled up as photographer on this tour, and I as passengers. The singing wells project will include an artist in every recording project we undertake so as to expose them to different cultures and sounds. We hope this will inspire them come up with modern fusion to bridge the gap between old traditional music and modern African fusion.

Four hours after we left Nairobi and hunger had already crept in so we decided to stop for a quick lunch in Voi. We arrived in Mombasa a few minutes past 7pm and headed straight to Malindi. Our V.I.P car was equipped with a G.P.S courtesy of Maddo so we had no trouble in terms of directions. We got to Malindi at around 9:30pm. The restaurant at the hotel we were booked in was closed. I had been to Malindi a few times before so I had no trouble getting everyone dinner.

Day 3: Off to Gede

After a good night sleep we woke up to some lovely breakfast, I must say that, although some of the members of the team had an interesting night’s sleep, mine was good.

Later I heard stories of broken down bathrooms and leaking toilets to malfunctioning AC (tee hee). Feeling energetic and full of excitement heading out for our first day of recording….aaaaah…..a flat on the V.I.P car and being the muscle of the team I was in charge of changing the tyre. A few minutes later we were ready to go. Jesse one of the studio engineers from ketebul who did not manage to travel with us arrived just as we were about to leave. I quickly helped him check in and off we were to Watamu where we were picking our fixer for the project called Deche. We had sent him on the ground earlier so as to identify the groups we were going to record. After meeting up with Deche we stopped again to pick up Bado the son to Mzee  Nyerere wa Konde, singer and group leader of Mwanzele Nyere wa Konde Music Club. It was nice to see Bado we had met about five year’s earlier and became good friends. Every time I visit Malindi we always meet up. Bado took us to his village called Sita in Gede. On arrival we received a warm welcome and Bado’s family was really happy to see me again and like wise. We got down to business and set up quickly and the first group was Mwanzele Nyerere wa Konde Music Club. I was excited because this would be my first time to see Mzee Nyerere wa Konde perform live and they did not disappoint. Later they were joined by Winyo for a performance which in simple words was icing on the cake

The second group of the day was Zaire Ndidigwa led by Fundi bin Kalale. Their group had fewer members but their music was good and we enjoyed it. Just as we were winding up my friend Bado asked if he could do some of his own music. Backed by his dad and Winyo, the song they came up with was simply amazing.

We were later served madafu which is a juice from coconuts. After biding farewell to Mzee Nyere wa Konde  and his family we headed back to Malindi but we had to get the flat tire fixed. I could not wait and since Malindi is famous for tuk tuks (3 wheeled motorbike taxis) I jumped into one with Winyo and Jesse and headed back to Paradise Hotel.

Day 4: Off to Kilifi

Everyone was glad to checkout of Paradise Hotel but what was funny was the look Andy gave the receptionist at Paradise Hotel when he asked us to visit again. The day’s program was long because we had four groups to record, two in Kilifi and the two in Kaloleni, Mombasa. We left early picked Deche our fixer who had chosen to stay in Watamu with his relatives, tand proceeded to Kibarani village in Kilifi.

A point to note is that what was becoming common was that whenever we were setting up kids from the village would surround as with excitement and it was always a beautiful sight.

The first group of the day was Chechemeko Raha led by Bahri wa Katana. Their sound was so powerful and their energy was amazing, in their last performance one member of the group performed a dance similar to capo era which a dance from Brazil better than I had ever witnessed before. All the villages had unique beautiful scenery and my soon to be love [CANON 5D CAMERA] was capturing every moment with Jimmy keeping a close eye on her. But by this time I had discovered Jimmy’s weakness [diet coke] so he would occasionally let me spend time with her if I organized one for him. The next group was Mzinga, this groups lead singer, Aphonce Kazungu was my favorite. He had an amazing voice. I did not know we had search stars hidden in the villages. This was very interesting indeed.

Mombasa was our next stop so we packed quickly and left. Time was moving fast and we still had two more groups to record.

Fast forward to Mombasa. We got lost briefly but finally met up with Katana bin Kalama group leader of the third group of the day called Supaki Kalazi. He took us to the location that they use for their rehearsals. The scenery was the most interesting so far, a dried out seasonal river bed. Kids were already playing around our set, I could tell they were excited seeing the third group of the day dressing up for their performance. Bin Kalama gave a good performance but he was not as energetic on this day as I know him to be from previous shows I have seen him on. The last group of the day which was called Sengenya led by Munyaka Chimega took advantage of this and gave a brilliant performance with energy not witnessed in all the previous groups recorded before.

DAY 5: Kwale, South Coast

We woke up to a beautiful surrounding of the Indian Ocean Beach Resort, it turned to be as beautiful as we had seen on the internet, pictures can sometimes deceive you.

Breakfast was so good and we took our time especially Willy Bembe, I think by this time he had added like five kilos to his body.

The distance between the hotel which was in Diani, and our set in Kwale was about half an hour’s drive and within no time we were in Vuga a small village in Kwale.

The first group was called Zigidigi cultural troupe led by Matano Mmwachiti. The ladies in this group had very colorful and beautiful costumes and looked happy dancing to their lovely music together with the men in unity. They were later joined by Winyo and they performed a song together which moved me though I did not understand the words.

The last group of the tour was called Mungano kayamba and what was interesting with this group was the props they had on set, I must say I was a little scared because the tribe from this area are the Digo’s and it is alleged they practice witch craft. What made my fear worse was their dance which was really creepy. We did however enjoy their performance.

This being the last day of the tour we planned to finish earlier than the previous days so as to have some little time to relax. On our way back to the hotel we made a stop at the African Pot restaurant, Jimmy was so happy at this because on previous days we never had lunch breaks, and he even let me spend time with my new love [CANON 5D CAMERA]. I cant wait for her to be mine…

DAY 6: Drive back to Nairobi

Zzzzzzzz……that was how loud I was snoring and when I woke up Maddo told me if he had a choice he would throw me out of the car hihihi. Ooh forgot to mention Willy was in the V.I.P car on the return leg and his snoring was even heavier than mine hehehe. We arrived safely in Nairobi and headed straight to Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant in Hurlighan for dinner. Am not exactly a fun of Ethiopian food but I must say I enjoyed it especially as we shared our personal experiences of the trip to the coast.

DAY 7: Ketebul Music studios

It was around 1pm everyone was looking energetic from what am sure was a good night sleep, Jimmy and Andy  were in the studio with Winyo and Ayub Ogada who is a famous nyatiti player and Bbishop a guitarist who is a member of Winyo’s band working on some deadly tunes to be released in the near future. I did not know how talented a song writer Jimmy was. 71hours to Monday is the title of the song they are working on, am loving it. Makadem one of our celebrity artists signed to Ketebul Music also came through and laid a verse in the song. I was feeling sad knowing very well I would be beading my love [CANON 5D CAMERA] goodbye, so when the studio session was done I escorted her, and Jimmy and Andy too of course to the airport…

I would like to personally thank Abubilla for all the support and assure them of our commitment as Ketebul Music to the singing wells project. Our partnership is the beginning of good things to come.

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