STR 8 UP – Six Million Viewers

May 24, 2007 at 11:47 pm (Karen, Trip 2007)

Yesterday, we appeared live on Kenya’s biggest television youth talk show – STR 8 UP – The Kenyan Television Network (KTN) became famous for Activism Journalism in the 1990’s and continues to serve a wide viewing audience throughout Kenya. Yesterday was quite surrealistic – the morning we were watching herds of elephants in Amboseli and 4 hours later, we’re in downtown Nairobi in a 16-story high rise, under the glaring lights of a television studio…and it was music therapy and the work that we are doing in the orphanages that brought us there….

Don Rawzi, Music Director at Nyumbani, has paved the way for us to take our work to new levels and visibility. Through his contacts in the music industry, not only are we raising awareness of the benefits of music in health and healing through local media, but we have also been given opportunities to perform and record our original compositions with the children and Eric Wainaina at the Splash Music Festival on Saturday. We will be performing, “Asante Sana”, a song composed by the group and dedicated to, and inspired by Samite Mulondo, Director of Musicians for World Harmony

“We have been blessed with your gracious soul,
Which never stops giving and makes others whole,
Your music is healing and touches the heart,
And though you’ve reached many,
It’s only the start…. Asante sana…” (and it goes on)

The songs that the students are writing flow, freely and with ease – each song has its own history and meaning and is inspired by this beautiful countryside of Africa and the people we are meeting.

Two days ago, some of us visited a manyatta, a Masaai homestead and were given a guided tour by Joel Tumuke, the son of the Chief Elder. Joel who serves as the Principal, Teacher and Headmaster of the Inchurra school invited us to view a lesson in the one-room school house for about 25 children of all ages. We listened to the children’s music and then Claudia taught her “frog” song that has become quite popular with all the children we are working with – this really is about sharing music – the men and the women of the village sang for us and then we sang for them and then we sang together – The Maasai have their distinctive customs and dress quite different from ours, yet we connected on a personal level – jumping, humming and swaying in unison together – people are people no matter where you go.

And musicians are musicians – today at Shangalia, we met members of the Kenyan accapella group, Petamony who sang with us and the children. 3 members of the group have just been accepted to Berklee and they came to the orphanage to meet us. New friends with much to offer… and then there is Isaac Kaguri Kavehere, Vocal Director at Shangalia. He is a composer, arranger and gifted teacher and performer. His original compositions incorporate traditional african melodies with western classical elements. He has graciously shared the scores and has offered to work with us as a group next week before we leave and teach us a Luo Medley in 4 part harmony – “Atiyo Ni Ruodha”. I am awed by each day keeps getting better and better yet harder and harder….

As we drop deeper down in authentic connections with the children, there is great emotional costs. As music therapists, we learn how to build trusting relationships through the music we use and how to set boundaries for ourselves and others. But this is hard – these children are in great need and the natural tendency is to want to ‘save’ them.. but we can’t… and we won’t… all we can do is share the gift of music in the moment. Are we making a difference? We have been transformed, but have they? This is where faith, trust and hope steps in…we do believe…

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2 Comments

  1. Donna Chadwick said,

    Hi Chuckie,

    It is in the peak experience of the moments in shared music that the best is transmitted. You have led and been led into amazing experiences and connections. Trust, gratitude, clarity.

    Love, Donna

  2. Katherine Walters said,

    Karen,

    Your writing gets deeper and deeper and so filled with clarity and vision. I am brought to tears. I too am humbled by all of your seperate journeys. The children, the students, the musicians…… all of you are weaving a thread of love, faith and sharing that encompasses all of us that read and experience this beautiful collaboration of music, culture and the human spirit. It brings us all to a place of wonder and makes us question all the other events that could possibly be happening in this world that aren’t part of this soulful connection. You convey such a sense of peace and hope yet realistic attitudes about what this all means for the children and yourselves. It truly lets me see how connected we all are even though we are more than a half a world apart. Such a tiny little world this is. Makes some things seem so very trival indeed.

    Bring as much of all these sights and sounds home as you can.Keep remembering and sharing and don’t let it fade with the distance. Hear the childrens voices in song and laughter, feel their hands in yours. The images are with you always. Such good work you do.

    Love,
    Katherine

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