Nick Abonyo (the ‘clapper-man’)

While on the road in Kitale, we interviewed Nick Abonyo who is working as an intern at Ketebul Music.  This is Nick’s second Singing Wells field recording trip where he is learning how to use the mobile recording equipment whilst also acting as photographer.  He is now officially in charge of the ‘clapperboard’ – a role he is relishing.



All about Nick

Nick was born in 1988 in the village of Mirogi at the Mirogi Mission Hospital.  He is Luo and unlike most of the younger engineers and artists at Ketebul, was raised in a rural village.  He grew up in Kanyamwa village. He has four aunts and seven uncles on his mother’s side. Her father, his grandfather, had six wives, two of whom died. His father only had one wife, his mother. His mother did not work outside the home, his father was a health worker.

The family’s hut was made out of mud walls and a thatched roof. The walls needed to be repaired every two weeks and replace every two months. They lit fires in the house to cook. When he went to primary school Nick had to live with his grandmother in Abasuba because there was a school there. He started going to school when he was eight. He would go home to his parents in August and December for a month. He preferred being in his parent’s village.

He liked village life because everything is free there. They grew their own food including maize, sweet potatoes, arrowroot and kale. They fished in the local lake and would sell some for pocket money and eat the rest. They also had chickens for eggs and meat. The water is pure so you don’t need to buy it. People are very friendly in the village and there is still honour and politeness. They respect their elders, always greet an older person and stand up when they walk nearby. Nick likes going back home to visit because it’s much simpler, clean and safe.

He graduated from High School in 2006 from Mirogi Boys High School and then went to University at the MOI Southern Nyanza Campus, graduating in 2010 in Information Technology.

In 2008, he moved down to Nairobi and therefore had to travel back and forth over next couple years to finish his degree in Information Technology.  While in Nairobi his first job was a three month internship with AirTel.  His goal was to get a white collar job in Nairobi but nothing materialised and he went back to Mirogi to live with his aunt.

Nick really loves music – his favourite was a reggae group called Lucky Dube and their song ‘Crazy World’.    He first thought of writing and recording his own music but ultimately decided that he loved the world of video, photography and computer animation.  He first heard of Ketebul Music in 2008 when they were working on their compilation Retracing the Benga Rhythm.   Ketebul were in southern Nyanza to record Benga music and Nick went to the sessions.  His primary school teacher Paul Wau was an artist (we recorded him on a Singing Wells visit to Nyanza).  Paul told him to check out Ketebul.  He applied for an internship and in May 2011 was hired.   He loves the professionalism, equipment and teamwork of Ketebul and its mission.  In the words of CNN, he says, “I like that we ‘go beyond borders’ to discover real music.”

Nick’s favourite Singing Wells moment was the welcome we received at the home of Ogoyo Nengo in Rang’ala, Nyanza province.  “She is a great artist and for her to welcome us to her home was a great honour.  I felt so proud.”

His worst moment was during the first day of recording on this trip to record the Kalenjin……when the rains came.  In his typical wordy style Nick reported, ‘I was wet.’

When asked who from the team bossed him around the most he replied, ‘Everybody’. I am the intern and everyone bosses me around.  But with the clapperboard I get to yell “All QUIET!” so now I can tell everyone to look at me and do what I say!’

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