We often get asked why we have called our project ‘Singing Wells’. The inspiration for the name came when Jimmy witnessed an extraordinary sight while travelling in Kenya – the real-life singing wells of the Samburu tribes people.
The singing wells of the Samburu
During the dry season, Samburu herdsmen (and boys) draw much needed water for their cattle from deep wells which they have dug in the parched river bed. As they pull water from these wells they begin to sing, a different song eminating from each well. The animals appear from the bush, seeming to recognise the unique song of their master. Once the animals have had their fill the herdsmen climb from their wells and disappear into the bush.
The songs tell stories of Samburu traditions and help the herdsmen keep a steady rhythm while they lower and raise their buckets. The singing wells illustrate the importance of traditional songs in the life of the Samburu tribes people.
We think that ‘Singing Wells’ is a very good name for our project which aims to preserve, celebrate and share the unique music traditions and heritage of East Africa.
More on Kenya’s singing wells
BBC World Service video on how the singing wells in the village of Daaba have changed the life of the local community: