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Animal horns keep culture and folk music beats alive

 Edward Kipsum, 52, and Elijah Rono showcasing the use of horn blowing at Kapnyeberai, Nnadi County on April 5, 2022. [Edward Kosut, Standard]

Without blowing the horn to blend the Kalenjin cultural songs and to move the rhythm of dancers, the music will not be captivating and relay the message of the occasion.

A soloist and performer, who synchronise the lyrics with the horn blowing, drum-beating and unified movement, offer alluring entertainment.

It is bound to melt your heart.

For Mr Edward Kipsum, the ease with which he blows the horn is captivating.

He has perfected the art and reveals it is a talent, that he inherited from his family.

Mr Kipsum, 52, owns a rare antelope horn, which he claims is a family coveted item that has exchanged hands through four generations.

He narrated to The Standard after a folk song performance at a political rally in Kapnyeberai village, Nandi County recently, that his great-grandfather was passionate about music.

He says through stories in the family lineage, that his great, great grandfather was a traditional songs enthusiast in the early 1900s, and a community messenger during the resistance to British inversion of  Nandi territory.

“As a family, we have preserved the horn for a long time. We have passed it down to generations of family members interested in music. I am taking care of it and using it in various entertainment occasions in the community,” he stated.

Since the musical instrument cannot be used in any other events other than on social and political occasions, Mr Kipsum, who has practised cultural music for over 38 years, formed Kapnyeberai Cultural dancers, an entertainment group that grace various functions.

 His spiralled gazelle horn, known as Kikondit, is a trumpet-like instrument that has a small hole at the narrow end. When air is blown in, it produces hooting vibrations.

“Cultural music cannot be performed without Kikondit. Few people can play the horn. I have been hiring it out at a negotiable cost and to only persons that I trust,” said Mr Kipsum said.

Mr Silvestre Kibet, a Kalenjin cultural conservative, who doubles up as Kaptel Cultural dancers’ patron, said that the horn is an irresistible indigenous instrument used by cultural dancers to evoke moranism.

“Horns were blown to signal the arrival of men from raids and this was to alert women to get ready to welcome them back with songs and dances,” he said.

 The horns were obtained from gazelles and buffalos, but upon Kenya attaining its independence, Kibet said, the government banned poaching, which dealt a blow to horns harvesting.

Mr Elijah Rono, 28, a cultural musician under Kapnyeberai Cultural dancers, cherishes his family horn that is under his custody.

Despite being young, he fell in love with the instrument since he comes from a family where his forefathers were great cultural musicians.

“Since most people are not skilled in how to use a horn, I help various groups by blowing the horn. It’s regarded as an old trumpet,” he said.

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