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Love-themed ‘zilizopendwa’ dominate schools festival

By - George Orido | August 18th 2012
Buru Buru Girls display trophy after winning in the adaptation class. [Photos: George Orido/Standard]

By George Orido

The adaptation and arrangement of African pop music remains the most popular class in the just concluded Kenya Music Festivals in Meru town.

The theme of love was apparent in the various choices made by the different groups that performed in this class that remains the biggest crowd puller at the fete.

Nairobi Girls School romped back to grab one of the most coveted trophies in the festival after a five-year spell with a super rendition of South Africa’s diva Yvonne Chakachaka’s Mama Land.

In this song arranged by Abbey Chokera, the girls ask why they are being called strangers in their own land.

Accompanied with captivating chorography, the mellow voices seek answers:

“Who’s that man calling me stranger? In my land, my mama land, who’s that man, telling me go from my land, my mama land.”

The song was composed at the height of Apartheid in South Africa.

This performance is an indication of the high standards and sheer entertainment value attached to the Zilizopendwa class and especially the ones from out of the country.

Cultural values

At the time of this class the Meru Hall was jam-packed, additional seats were sourced from other halls to accommodate the swelling numbers.

“The reason for the popularity of this class is not just in the message on social and cultural values, the workmanship in terms of vocal variety and harmony, sheer choreography and being popular music makes it a delight for many a music lover, says Moses Wafula a regular attendee at the festival.

And he couldn’t have been more right.

A performance by Otieno Oyoo left the audience asking for more especially at the climax of Tabu Ley Rochereau’s Muzina with tantalising dance style that would make Congolese dancers.

Sigalame Boys from Western thrilled the audience with their rendition of Kofi Olomide’s Ultimatum.

Here Olomide is a lonely man beseeching his lover to come back to him.

He says mistakes have happened but his love for her is undeterred despite all that.

Kofi’s other song Riziki from his album Monde Arabe was rendered by Kaimosi Secondary School in dramatic antics that wowed the audience.

The master of Zilizopendwa arrangement Humphrey Kisia found himself on stage with his team Chavakali rendering Ndonah by Verkys Kiamwangwana.

In the song Verkys is seeking his life back and during the Chavakali presentation a number of teachers were seen getting the help of their hankies.

Michael Ahendere, the MC at the fete, consoled those who had broken into tears: “In our days we did cry and I can feel you.”

And the evening belonged to love birds or those who opened their hearts to passion and emotional placations.

Molo Academy from Rift Valley rocked with their arrangement and adaptation of Asinata by Popolipo. The evergreen Lingala song spiced with Kiswahili translation was the toast of the day as the boys reverberated the lyrics in cool harmony.

Kagwe girls took it further. In their song Karibu Yangu by Tshala Mwana the love theme is deeper with a higher commitment to marriage.

Madilu System in Aguna praises the sheer beauty of this woman she has met. Pumwani Boys from Nairobi took credit for this presentation.

Brass instruments

He tells her that since the world began, Madilu has never seen as beautifully endowed as Aguna.

Pumwani maintained their style of accompanying their vocals with brass instruments making it a spectacle to watch.

According to Ahendere the music resonated with many Kenyans in the ’70s and ’80s because there was a huge rise of post-independence teenage population who were socially getting to have some relations with the opposite sex.

“The economic hardships brought about by rural-urban population had also destroyed the hitherto traditional ways of courting,” he says.

As a result, there was much heartbreak caused by urban ways that did not guarantee man-woman relations especially with respect to the ability of the man to provide.

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