Reflections on the pilot phase by Willie Bembe


 DAY 1

  • The guys form Abubilla have just flown in and a small party is being held for them at Sippers Restaurant in Hurllingham with performances from among others Samba Mapangala, Winyo and Ayub Ogada.
  • I say hi to Andy who is at the control desk recording the event with the new equipment.
  • I meet Jimmy a bit later when the event is over.
  • Gosh he’s tall….and very hands on since he was helping take down the mics.


  • We gather at the studio so we can set of on the road trip to Malindi
  • The tall guy jokes on Jimmy start.
  • He is a little taken a back.
  • He comes back full swing with jokes of he’s own and I say “Good One”.

 In The Car To Malindi

  •  Jimmy the boss checks in and Andy has to orientate me on protocols ASAP.
  • I get the hang of it and I like it.
  • Andy falls asleep a little later.
  • My goodness…..he snores at +3db…”does he have a girlfriend?” I wonder.
  • We get to talk a lot in the car and I realize that Jimmy is not such a stuck up guy after all….he’s alright.
  • Journey is long and on getting there everyone is tired and a round of tuskers is greatly appreciated.
  • Alas….the restaurant is closed and we have to go out and get some food.

 DAY 3

  •  We get into the car to go and find the first group we are to record Mwanzere Nyere wa Konde.
  • Everyone is in high spirits as we get into the compound with old hats and set up the equipment.
  • We get to see Andy in he’s real professional self.
  • We learn a lot from him since now we can see how it is done in real time.
  • The group is amazing.
  • The father and son are very talented.

 DAY 3

  • I start to realize that most of the groups we are recording have members who are very old which means that they have been storing this music for a very long time.
  • All this then translates to the project being very important for my generation, the rest of my countrymen and the whole world.
  • This is history… history.
  • The history of African communities is in the stories our grandfathers told us which got distorted over time.
  • The safest way to store them was in the music which was passed down from generation to generation.
  • Another five years and all this would be gone since the present generation is not really interested in learning there music.
  • This is because it’s not packaged in a way that would interest them.

 DAY 4

  •  Have caught on on how to set up the equipment and under the Andy’s guidance do the recording.
  • The sound quality coming from the recording is amazing considering we are recording outdoors
  • Recording Winyo by the sea shore is a particular favorite.
  • Alas…Jimmy is suddenly the guy with the funniest jokes and everyone is laughing their hearts out.
  • I still think Andy belongs to a cult where they keep beards like the one jesus did.
  • I ask him about it and he growls at me to back off….says he’s got powers and can bite my head off.
  • In the African culture, having magical powers is very possible….so I retreat to think about what he said from a distance.

 DAY 5

  • The drive back to Nairobi seems shorter than the one to Malindi.
  • Get to Nairobi and enjoy a nice Ethiopian dinner at the Habesha restaurant.
  • Everyone is very tired so we let the big boys have their meeting at the Fairview Hotel.

 DAY 6

  • It’s our guest’s last day and we enjoy having last recording sessions with them at the studio.
  • The “seventeen hour” song is very catchy and Jimmy is dancing all over the place as an African touch is added by Makadem, Winyo and Ayub Ogada.
  • Andy is at the control desk being a magician after tearing down our studio so we can use the new equipment.
  • Jimmy is an amazing song writer I realise.

We say farewell and they are off to the airport with a promise to return.

Willie Bembe

11 April 2011


Published on