Our final day. We woke, drove our waitress nuts with sequential breakfast order and departed for Mukuuni:
We arrived on the site, the playing fields of the Mukuuni High School. We’re here to record one band, the Original Chuka Drummers, led by Eustace Mjuki Bundi. They are 30 males who all play drums except for their banner waver. They were formed in 1930 and have spawned so many imitations that they had to add the word ‘original’ to their name. They are Ameru, of Tharakanithi County. The group plays on all occasions, during harvests, births, weddings, marriages. The play the Mwinjira (Drums) and Biringi (Whistle).
This was a tricky set to record because they are such vibrant performers, racing all over the place. When we tried to contain them to get good vocals, we lost the explosive force of the drums. When we let them run wild it was pretty difficult to get a good vocal or audio take. Also, we were accidentally constraining them by asking them to go through their songs one by one, when in fact, what they loved to do was race through all the songs at once, in a single act. We finally sorted through all this though.
Ultimately we did four ‘takes’:
- Mucii: This is their introduction. The lead singer was Gitari Thura. This is a procession song and is used to energize the crowd and performers.
- Muntu agitura: Lead singer was Micheni Ndic. This song warns men about being too much loved by women because they end up becoming foolish and unable to manager their manly affairs. [Think back to the ‘circumcision lessons.’]
- Medley of Mware, Ukiona, Wenda: We then did a medley of their songs to keep the energy – Mware was led by Gitai Thura, and Wenda Kuthii by Eustace Njuki and Gitar Thura. Mware is about an uneducated woman who wants to be married to an educated man. This song challenges the woman to get an education in order to be at par with the prospective spouse.
- Wenda Kuthii: This song advises men to leave the woman at home and to take care of the wealth. So if a man has to go somewhere he should leave the woman in charge.
We then wrapped up and took lots of final pictures, including of three children, practically our only children from the trip! We packed for a final time and departed for Nairobi.
We made pretty good time to Ketebul music, where we unloaded our gear. Then we headed for the Fairview, a 20 minute drive that took about 90 minutes due to traffic! We all crashed early knowing we had almost a week in the studio starting tomorrow morning!