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Titanic in 3D experience

EXPLAINERS
By | March 30th 2012

As the world marks a centenary since the sinking of the world’s most famous ship, Hollywood re-releases the 1997 movie in new tech, write PETER NDORIA and REUTERS

BY KIUNDU WAWERU

Tamasha Beats band is rewriting and rearranging old folk songs, and then performing them in vocally rich four part harmonies.

Like an angel, the song Malaika continues to spread its wings, and enveloping souls of many around the world.

The Swahili song is said to have been composed by Fadhili Williams, and recorded in 1960. But over the decades, other popular musicians have retweeked the song, making it more famous. Notable is the late Miriam Makeba, the German Band, Boney M, Harry Belafonte and Angelique Kidjo among others.

And now, a Kenyan band that is making inroads in town has joined the acclaimed world artistes, and put a stake on Malaika, for after all, it originated here.

In their debut album, Unveiled, Tamasha Beats Band has re-arranged Malaika giving it a new sound but still retaining it’s authenticity.

But then again, this is what this 15 band member set out to do from 2008; rewriting and re-arranging old folk songs, and then performing them "in vocally rich four part harmonies." They term this as neo-afro- traditional genre.

The album Unveiled features re-arrangement of other songs like Tetete, a Luo traditional sacred song, and Ndia Yolile, a nostalgic Kamba folk tune. They seem patriotic, as they have songs from the different Kenyan ethnic groups including a Luhya folk song, Soree and a Gikuyu popular sacred song, Rungu rwa Ihiga.

They also have written own songs, and rendered them to an Afro Fusion beat. One of this is the beautiful Miatu ya Njuki, an Embu song written and composed by Justin Mirichii. The other original number is Linda Kenya, written and composed by Odek Ochung’.

A capella group

Tamasha Beats Started out as an all-boy A capella Band but the director Odek Ochung’ says that due to the changing entertainment industry, they now use instruments. "The fans also demand that we use instruments. However. We still largely do A cappella".

Their performance can be described as electrifying, and engaging. Though Tamasha performs all over the place, including for corporates, it’s not all about making money. Like the song Malaika (angel), the boy band is spreading its wings towards the empowerment of the boy child.

The Friday Entertainment caught up with them in a unique event December last year. This was at Dass, the Ethiopian Restaurant in Westlands. The invitation read that this was a fundraising event to offset school fees for Jeff, a bi-racial boy abandoned by dad, and left under the care of a jobless mother. At the event dubbed This Boy, This Man a popular news anchor was being auctioned, where the last bidder would have occasion to dine with her.

It was a colourful occasion, made so by the beats of Tamasha. Kingwa Kamencu, the guest of honour had been inspired to pen a poem on the spot, and reading it in her speech. Someone in the audience whispered, "Wow, a poetic president!"

This Boy, This Man, is the brainchild of Cindy Ogana, who wonders what on earth happened to the boy child, that he stays idle, and leads a reckless life. This has been a vicious circle that sees the boy, as he becomes a man, neglect responsibilities. His son, if he gets any, grows up lacking a role model.

"When Cindy shared this with us, we decided to come up with an initiative that will not only address Cindy’s immediate fundraising plan but also offer a platform for ‘taking the conversation back to the boy child and his future as the man,’" says Odek.

Boy child case

Though the main objective is to empower the Boy Child so that he develops into a responsible Man, Odek adds that the boy’s future, the man, is also their focus since man faces many challenges in the society. "We intend to create role models out of the men for the boys to look up to".

With This Boy, This Man, Ondek says that they intend to show that perfoming artists have a big role to play in outlining social issues besides creating awareness.

This Boy, This Man is now a bi-monthly event. Cindy says that they invite speakers to talk on relevant ‘male-centric’ topics to a mostly male audience in an ‘easy’ environment. Tamasha Beats performs at the event for free and the attendance cover charge goes to a prior identified charity which must be boy or man centred.

For the next This Boy, This Man event, you have a chance to take Janet Mbugua out for dinner, that is, if you are the highest bidder at the event’s "celebrity auction."

This will be on April 5, at the Dass Restaurant, Westlands, from 6pm. Mr Peter Kenneth will be the guest speaker, and the event is courtesy of the boy who was allegedly assaulted by City Council askaris early this year.

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