We met for breakfast at 7am, departed from Kitale Club, Kitale at 8.30 and arrived at our first shoot of the trip – Kapsokwony Kenya, 56 kilometers from Kitale. We drove onto the athletic grounds of Chesamis High School to record four groups. Our fixer was ’50 Cows’ – clearly taken from 50 Cent, but taking the Kalenjin love of cattle to a new level. 50 Cows is a local journalist and student at United States International University (USIU).
The Music Groups
First up for recording was Ben Kisinja, a wonderful guitarist in the typical Kalenjin style. Tabu describes this style as very traditional and the way of singing is very unique to the Sabaot clan of the Kalenjin. The guitar is called a burkandit, and is a homemade guitar somewhat resembling the Nyatiti of the Luo. He was joined by a percussionist who played the karachimek, which is essentially two sticks on the ground played by two sticks. Tabu first met Ben in 2007, when working on Spotlight on Kenya Music Vol.4. He sang a song called ‘Kiseete’ on the album. (Interestingly, our second group today, Chebonet, played Kiseete, which is clearly a communal song of this community).
Ben recorded 8 tracks with us, including a fantastic Influences track with Eddie Grey, a musician who joined Ketebul Music in 2011.
Please click here to read the meaning behind Ben’s songs: Song Translations of Ben Kisinja
Our second group was Chebonet, a traditional folk group with several percussionists and a wonderful young lead female vocalist. They were a great choral group with some wonderful dancing using shields and spears. Again, Eddie stepped in for an Influences session with a subgroup to record.
Please click here to read the meaning behind the songs of the Chebonet group: Song translations of Chebonet
We then recorded Teriet, a guitarist with a wonderful acoustic guitar with a lot of miles. His best song was ‘Sigerer’. Kathy interviewed him about all his songs and this is a classic (to go to Kathy’s Blog on Songs from Day 1, click here). Sigerer tells the story of two bulls in Teriet’s family that we were stolen and taken to Uganda. The family dog was able to follow the scent and led a posse of 20 armed men 75kms to a butchers where sadly one bull had been killed. The surviving bull, Sigerer, was re-taken and brought back to Kitale. In celebration, the owner slaughtered poor Sigerer to feed the posse. As Kathy pointed out to Teriet, the real hero of the song was the dog, not poor Sigerer, who’s sole role was really to walk to Uganda and back and die.
Finally, we recorded the ill-fated Masirtarit, a wonderful female folk choir with great songs. They had waited all day for their turn only to find the rain arrived to join them. We did record one wonderful take which will be part of Singing Wells, but they deserved far more.