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Music can help shape the culture of a country. By researching the history of music from Kenya, I plan to show its importance to the culture. Music is a form of expression, entertainment as well as communication. Sounds we hear can control the frame of mind we are in as well as the tension in our bodies.
Through collaboration with a team of fellow teachers, I plan to introduce my students to the culture and music of Kenya, while exploring the science of sound. We will learn the importance of music to a culture. We will make instruments and learn how the different shapes and sizes of the same material, creates a variety of sound. After the instruments are made we will learn how to play them.
At the end of this unit, I plan to participate in a collaborative effort to present a culminating activity: an assembly called the “Festival of Sound” to be performed at an PTSO meeting for parents and students in the spring of next school year and during our annual International Festival.
Many Africans left Egypt as Arab culture and language made its total conquest of the indigenous people. Almost all Africans share cultural similarities with the ancient Egyptians.
Europeans came to Africa after hearing Arab travelers report of the gold and diamonds to be found there. Europeans were in search for a secure economic life after the devastation caused by the bubonic plague. Europe’s merchants took full advantage of the separated kingdoms and traded in both gold and human beings. Initiating the most intense period of human slavery in history.
Africa’s culture is therefore determined by a unity of origin as well as a common struggle. Also present in Africa’s culture is a nonmaterial element of resistance to the assault upon traditional values caused by the intrusion of European legal procedures, medicines, political processes, and religion into African culture.
Africa’s population mixed with the Arabs, caused the two cultures to blend creating a new language and culture. They became known as Kiswahili or Swahili. The culture is prominent today in the coastal towns. Kiswahili and English are the official languages of modern Kenya.
In 1895 Kenya was ruled by the British government. It became a “royal colony” in 1920. British settlers took over the best lands for plantations, growing tea, coffee, cotton and sugar cane.
The many tribes of Kenya were to weak to fight the British and keep them from taking over their land. Their spears were no match for their powerful guns. Because of the many different ethnic groups of tribes made it impossible for them to unite and become a substantial force.
Kenyans were forced to work on British plantations or become servants in their large beautiful homes. Kenya grew fast with Narobi becoming a modern city with all that one would expect, large homes, restaurants, theaters and clubs. Even with all this modernization, native Kenyans were not allowed in any of these places except as servants. These 8 million natives were being ruled by about 30,000 British.
People of Kenya began to find ways to unite. After World War II a powerful man named Jomo Kenyatta returned home. In no time he began to lead a movement for independence. British opposed this move which lead to violence. Kenyans formed an organization called the Mau Mau. This group use harsh terrorist tactics in their flight for independence. Kenyatta did not agree with the violence but British rule blamed him for it. He was arrested in 1952 and sent to prison in 1953.
Although the British ended the Mau Mau uprising, they were convinced that Kenya could no longer be a British colony. Kenyatta was released from prison in 1961. Kenya received its independence in 1963. Kenyans shouted Uhuru! Uhuru! (ooh-hoo-roo) as their flag was being raised. Freedom! Freedom!
In 1964 Jomo Kenyatta was Kenya’s first president. He encouraged the British to stay and many did. He created one political party, including many different tribal groups, the Kenya African National Unity or KANU in hopes for National Unity. Kenya experienced much economic growth under Kenyatta’s leadership
. Kenyatta died in 1978, leaving a void of his powerful personality. Daniel arap Moi became the next president, who proved to be even more powerful. There has been great opposition to his government but he was reelected in 1992. Most Kenyans hope that one day soon it will be a democracy.
Because of it’s location its climate is sunny and hot. Oddly enough because of the variation in altitude a person can be very hot on the grassland or build a snowman on Africa’s second highest mountain, Mount Kirinyaga ( Mount Kenya). This mountain is covered with snow all year.
An ancient trench of land cuts from north to south. This is called the Great Rift Valley. It cuts through the highlands of central and southwestern Kenya, one quarter of the country. The highlands have a mild climate, plenty of rainfall making soil good for farming. This is the most populated region with 80% of Kenya’s people living there.
Kenya’s large savanna has a great population and concentration of wild animals. They include large herds of elephants, some rhinoceros and hippopotamus. Shallow waters are home to crocodiles and shore birds and a variety of snakes including cobras and pythons.
The relationship between people and animals is strong. The wildlife is important to their heritage. Therefore no hunting is allowed in Kenya. People who hunt, kill or steal animals illegally are severely punished if caught.
There are more than forty natural parks and game reserves. They cover almost 10% of the country. The largest Tsavo National Park covers an area the size of Massachusetts.
|Most Africans of Modern Kenya are descended from groups speaking Bantu language, Cushite and the Nilotic. These people settled there over 2000 years ago for the rich soil for farming and the pleasant climate.|
Out of Kenya 28 million people almost 89% of them are native Africans. The rest are Arab, Asian, and European decent. The Kikuyo (Key-koo-yo) are the largest native group with more than six million making up at least 22% of total population. They live as farmers in the southwestern highlands. Luo (Loo-oh) another group make up about 15% of the nations population. They are fisherman and farmers on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Today, Kenya cities are modern with beautiful high-rise hotels, offices complexes and apartment buildings. The people who shop in the stores and dine in the restaurants are dressed in styles out of New York, Paris or London. Modern transportation crowd the streets. Many tribal groups are represented in Nairobi the best jobs and government positions are occupied with the Kikuyu and Luo.
As every cities have their slums, on the outskirts of Nairobi people struggle against poverty. This part of Nairobi is made up of shantytowns, shacks made of wood scraps, cardboard and tin. These shantytowns grew as people came to the city in hopes to find jobs and a better way of life. The government has not been able to supply enough low - cost housing because the population grows to fast.
This second largest city and seaport is Mombass. It is one of Kenya’s oldest communities. Mombass began with the first Arab trades. Arab influence is still evident while many Mombassons are Muslims.
Elders in the tribe usually meet to solve disagreements within. All help each other weather it is to help finish a job physically or help send someone to school financially. When villagers move to Nairobi or another fast moving town it puts a strain on tribal and family strong ties. The advantage is when people move to the city to find work, they give financial support to those back home.
These instrument’s use is not confined to purely musical functions. Some are used as signals for attracting attention, assembling people, or creating an atmosphere. They may also be used for transmitting verbal messages or for reinforcing verbal communication.
They are the most common instrument found in Africa; they include the simplest as well as the most easily improvised sound producing objects. An Idiophone can be defined as an instrument upon which a sound may be produced without addition of stretched membrane or vibrating reed.
Shaken - Idiophones
Wicker rattles, reed - box rattles as well seed shell rattles are found mainly in eastern Africa. May be strung together by rope or held together by means of a stick serving as a handle. There are also baobab - seed rattles, made by threading a number of calabash disc’s on a stick. (Nketia, 1990)
The sansa( hand piano), the melodic type, consists of a graduated series of wooden or metal strips arranged on a flat sounding board and mounted on a resonator such as a box, a gourd, or even a tin.
The type played in eastern Africa has keys mounted over a wooden frame, below which a number of gourd resonators are suspended, graduated in size in relation to the pitches of the wooden slabs.
@Text:Percussive instruments find highest expression in the use of membranophones (drums with parchment heads). They range from simple types played by women in ritual context, like a skin apron pulled over pots or ox-hide stretched on poles. ____ Drums appear in many shapes. Conical, cylindrical, or semicylindrical, with a bulge in the middle or a bowl - shaped top, cup - shaped, bottle shape like a goblet or vase, or in the shape of an hour glass. The frame may be round or square. Drums are usually carved out of solid log wood. The use of tins, light oil drums, and other such material has been noted in Kenya.Toy drums for little children use to be made out of hard fruit shells or other hollow items. Now, sometimes they are made out of discarded tin.
Although there is a variety of drums that exist in Africa, they seem to be localized. East Africa has the hour - glass shaped drum usually single headed. The Ugandan drum is also peculiar to east Africa. (Waterman, 1996)
Reed pipes are not as widespread or significant as the flute. The double reed pipe is found in eastern Africa, along the coast of Kenya. It is usually made out of the stalk of a millet or similar plant. The embrouchure consist of a short flap about a inch in length and a quarter of an inch in diameter, made by cutting two parallel slits about two inches from one end of the stalk. The flap is not severed but cut at one end so that it can be lifted with the hand, and is allowed to lie loosely over the embrouchure; it can be held down by a loose string. A reedy sound is made by exhaling and inhaling through the slits around the flaps. One hand may cup the other end of the instrument to change the pitch. (Nketia, 1974)
The lute, an instrument whose strings run parallel to its neck is found in African societies. A one string fiddle the sese or zeze tuble fiddle resonator may be made out of gourd or a hollow piece of wood or bamboo, and covered skin. The string may be made out of sisal fiber and may be played with a bow of similar material.
Arched (or bow) harps, the neck of the instrument is arched, and the strings run from the neck to the sound box at an angle. Harps of five, six, seven and eight strings are found in Kenya
The lyre instrument whose string runs from a yoke to a resonator seems to be concentrated in east Africa. There appear to be similar graduation in size in the Kenya lyres. The obukamo, a large varient, has been described as the double bass of east Africa. It is three and a half feet long, the resonating drum is eighteen inches in the diameter, and a frame for the strings is thirty one inches wide at the top. There are other lyres that vary in size such as the eight - string litungu of the kuna of Kenya and the five - string kibugander of the kipsigis of Kenya. (Bebey, 1975)
____ Does The Music Carry A Message?
Some songs serve a purpose and carry a very direct message. There is usually a background information about a great warrior or chief. Praise songs are dedicated to the living, although the memory of a dead person might be brought back to one's remembrance. In songs many emotions arise, especially when women use their high shrieks. In Kenya these is hardly any song without dance. Dance is another form of communication with body language that consists of rhythmic movements of the legs, head, shoulders and in some groups the hips.
The melody is restricted by the use of pentatonic scale and the fact that the language is tonal. When the intonation changes from high to low, the singing change with it. Every syllable within a word should receive its correct pitch, which will imprint meaning on the word and the phase. This causes a tone from one ethnic group to not easily lend itself to words from another language. Inaccurate tone sequence make words meaningless.
Births When a baby is born women say: ‘Njahi ni njuku, ukai tukoone mugeni’. This means, you are invited to a peas party, so come and see the visitor. This message is joined by songs and chants related to the occasion from relatives and close friend bearing gifts.
Circumcision is a civic and religious rite. There are several different stages for this.
About for months before the initiation period boys only sing and dance the mumburo. This dance is a pushing contest with boys from other villages. They have long strips of wood tied to their arms. Some are hurt and cowards run away. During this dance the leader sings and the group responds.
Sometime before the circumcision boys sing to the old folks to show that they are ready.
Two weeks before circumcision there are songs and dances for boys and girls, while the adults watch. Boys that are to be circumcised visit their friends and sing and dance. This continues until one and a half days before the circumcision day.
During preparation for girls, there is singing along with whistles blown by women and the dance continues the night before. Drinking also happens at this time.
The song that is sung when the women come to prepare the food and no men are allowed.
Urigu wa airitu
Singing this song meaning the uncircumcised state of the girls women sing wearing leg rattles.
Before dawn, the day of circumcision, songs and dances continue the whole day.
This is song by boys and adult males if they care to join in. This is song during the eight day period to the initiates as they are being fed soup to regain strength.
For period of three months these boys do not do any work. Instead they spend most of their time going from place to place singing their initiation song.
Young men who were circumcised a year ago, present themselves for battle with singing and dancing.
This dance is for both sexes, young men form a circle and girls stand in a smaller inner circle facing them. The boys perform their dancing skills.
This dance is also for boys and girls, and is performed at night by the firelight, during the months of July and August. Any dancer who does not perform correctly is touched with a live torch.
Boys and girls participate. It consist of a series of dance songs that carry the same feelings. They dance in two lines facing each other. Boys wear leg rattles.
This is the last dance after the mucung’wa. It is more like a finale and after it, people start leaving.
A women’s dance performed after a wedding has taken place. After the marriage and the couple is at the home of the husband. Two trays are put in front of them where gifts are put, usually money. The middle and old age women come with all their bodies covered in leaves, and they start to sing and dance.
A common meal in Luo country might include a fish dish called tilapia perch in a spicy tomato sauce. A side dish might be githeri, a mixture of red beans and corned.
The Kikuyo might serve barbecue beef, Lirio a dish made potatoes, peas and corn mashed together.
In Narobi and along the coast, Kiswahili cooking is popular. It is quite different from foods in other regions. A female is a meat stew made shredded coconut and coconut milk. A side dish might be matoke- corn mashed with banana or plantain, a banana like fruit.
Cattle, goats and sheep provide meat and milk. Leafy, green kale is cheap and very popular vegetable. Carrots and other vegetables are very colorful on market stands. Cornmeal can be used to make ugali and millet is used for porridge. Simsim ae sometimes used to make cookies. Peanuts and cashew nuts one important ingredients in Kenyan food. Everyone in Kenya drink tea, and a great deal of tea is sold to other countries. Bananas, mangoes and pineapples are just some of the many fruits that grow well in Kenya.
Nomadic tribes wear traditional clothing. They wear a gorfa, it is wrapped around the body one and a half times and secured with a leather thong and a rope belt. A gorfa is made from several panels of goatskin or sheepskin that have been sewn together and dyed red and black. These garments are now made of cotton cloth his become more available red and black cotton.
Both men and women are fond of jewelry. Necklace made of rows of beads. Bracelets and earrings are community worn also
School is not compulsory in Kenya, but more than 80 percent of the children now spend at least 3 years in primary school. Primary school begins at age six continues for seven years.
There is a small tuition for school except for the first three years which are free. Only about one teenager out of seven manage to go on to high school. Many of those who complete four years of high school go on to college.
Students that attend college usually attend the University of Nairobi, or smaller college that train for jobs in teaching, health care and business.
Private groups have funded schools. These schools are called self-help or harambee, schools. This originated because the government could not provide enough schools or teachers. Volunteers from Europe and the United States help bring schools to remote regions of the country.
Harambee High Schools out number the government - operated high schools. Students are taught similar to those taught all over the world: reading, writing, geography, math, history and science.
Kenya has a high percentage of literate people about 70 percent. This is high for a newly independent nation.
____@Text:Many children join the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides. These clubs teach children how to preserve Kenya’s wildlife. Soccer is Kenya’s most popular team sport. They have won gold medals in the 800-meter, 1,500-meter, and 3,000-meter steeple chase, and the 5,000-meter run, in the Olympics.
People in larger towns enjoy movies, concerts, plays and dance performances. Television is limited to urban areas but radio is all over
The festival have four main objectives:
Throughout the festival their are different areas of competition with a semi - professional requirement.
- To study the art of Music in all forms including Elocution and Dance.
- To guide students and those teaching with helpful criticism by qualified persons
- To produce promising performers before the audience.
- To promote the preservation of Kenya cultural heritage.
Open Choral Class
This class was with out age limit, creating competition between students and teachers. Once the students beat the teachers causing social embarrassment for the teachers. This incident led to two sections be created, one for teachers and one for the students.
The Set Piece
This inspired some musicians to compose pieces in the style of these set pieces. This group has been called patriotic songs. They are encouraged through the sponsorship of groups which commissioned the festival organizers to choose a winning choir based on a given theme. The winning song is adopted by the organization and the choir is sometimes paid.
The government promote these songs especially those written in Swahili. Dealing with city themes and current affairs. These songs can be classified as urban folk songs when accompanied by electronic instruments, because they were simple and easy to learn.
The Folk Song
This style seeks to portray dramatization of life in the village where all the expressions of their music are integrated; the song, the dance, and the instrument. Folk songs also serve as a foundation for traditional songs that are now used by the new African musician and composer as composition models.
Most of the folk songs retain their original language making them traceable to their original function. Sometimes the text of songs are changed, making them appropriate to be used in political situations or religious meetings.
This section has added all kinds of European vocal and instrumental solo and ensemble sections, including orchestra and Western dances. In the beginning the main competitors in this section were professional singers. Once students begin to participate in large numbers the festival was forced to begin an age group limit.
British ran schools used to have a monopoly in this competition. As the government became more involved in the festival, students from these British schools began to teach in other centers. The festival provided educational opportunities for students to learn what was inspected of participants.
The piano has been the most popular Western instruments at the festival. There was a wide range of ages that participated, age six to fourteen, making it necessary to adopt age limit groups.
The festival had to assign set pieces for these classes, because the level of the groups was various.
The African Section
African vocal and instrumental solo and ensemble sections are counterparts with the European section. This section is hard to monitor because of the creativity of the teachers who found ways to integrate or synthesize instruments that did not belong to the same culture.
Musicians are encouraged to attempt to play African instruments as solo instruments. In this class participants always accompany themselves with songs and or other instruments. The official have a hard time in this section, because solo are accompanied by dance as well, which is from a different class.
This section is reinforced through competitions away from the Music Festival. A dance section was incorporated by the School’s Drama Festival. The Festival planners decided to add African dance because it is a type of dramatic action.
The Festival serve as an artistic, creative, lyric and dramatic institution, that has revived folk and culture values as well as provide a sense of History.
- The students will be asked to list as many non - verbal sounds as they could, ex: horn, bell, cough, clap, sneeze, etc..
- We would then discuss in what situations could those sounds be heard, and what different meanings could they have in each situation depending on who was hearing them.
- I would then show the movie “ The Miracle Worker “ ( Helen Keller) to show the struggle one faces without the use of all their senses, but that nothing is impossible.
Objective To gain an awareness of Kenya’s culture and to see how people and things can be different and similar at the same time.
- The teacher will start a culture box with items that are related to Kenya. The students will be asked to participate if they have any items at home.
- We will then examine each object and ask the questions: (1) What is it ? (2) How is it used ? and (3) What do our culture have like it ?
- The students will create a pictograph of objects from each culture that are used in similar ways.
The students will be given a list of a few pronunciation tips:
The students will make a dictionary of Swahili word and their meaning in the area of :
- a = ah ( father )
- e = ( two sounds: a as in say and e as in pet )
- I = ee ( feet )
- o = o ( hoe or bold )
- u = ( zoo )
- g = hard as in go
- r = rolled
- g = always hard as in guard
- m = at the beginning of word, m sound is followed by a subtle u as in a hum
- ch = charm
- dh = father
- ng = hang
- gh = a rough “g” produced by slight friction between back of tongue and palate.
- double vowels are pronounced seperately: yai = ya-I
- alphabet does not have c, q, or x sound
Friendship and Courtesy Days of the Week
yes ndiyo Monday Jumatatu no hapana Tuesday Jumanne please tafadhali Wednesday Jumatano friend rafiki Thursday Alhamisi child mtoto Friday Ijumaa children watoto Saturday Jumamosi hello hujambo Sunday Jumapili good-bye kwaheri How are things with you? habari yako thank you ahsante You’re welcome. Karibu
|Color Words||Parts of the Body|
|red||nyekundu||ankle||kifundo cha mguu|
grandmother bibi shoulder bega
|Number Words||Animal Names|
|Everyday Words snake||nyoka|
- Each student will choose a celebration and research it in both cultures.
- The students will use the Big Six, introduced by the library media specialist. They will complete a rubric that the teacher has written in collaboration with the library media specialist.
- The students will research, write a report, and present findings to teacher and classmates visually and orally.
- We will take a tour of Kenya through pictures in books, magazines, and videos, to observe the land features and architectural structures.
- The students will than choose an area of the country to portray in a shoe box habitats.
- The students will read a variety of short stories and folk tales.
- Answer comprehension questions.
- Write book reports or summaries to each.
- Re write stories by changing the ending.
Activities: These lesson will be integrated into unit with collaboration and taught by Mr. Lewis, East Rock’s Magnet School Curriculum Teacher and his curriculum unit “ The Science of Sound and Musical Instruments”, YNHTI - 2000.
Activities: These lessons will be integrated into the unit with collaboration and taught by East Rock’s K- 4 music teacher and her unit “ Exploring the Folk Instruments and Sound of Kenya and Brazil ”, YNHTI - 2000.
This book attempts to express, that when one speaks of unity in Africa, they are speaking of the commonalties among the people. To the degree that the maternal conditions influence the choices people make and that Africans share similarities in behavior, perception and technologies.
Bebey, Francis. African Music: A People Art. 1st U.S. ed. New York: L. Hill, 1975.
The intentions of this book is to introduce the reader to the world of traditional African Music.
Chernoff, John Miller. African Rhythm and African Sensibility: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.
“Kenya”, African Online: Music, http://www.africaonline.com/Africa Online/music/kenya.html,(1997)
This book discusses the diverse musical style that range from Swahili tarabu music of the to Luo benga music from the lake region.
Nketia, J. H. Kwabena. The Music of Africa. New York: W.W. Norton, 1974.
The Music of Kenya is an introduction to the music of Africa for the general reader and the college student. It attempts to provide a broad survey of the musical tradition of Africa with respect to their historical, social, and cultural backgrounds as well as an approach to musical organization, musical practice, and significant aspects of style.
Paterson, Robert. Kenya: Cultures of the World. California: Benchmark Books, 1995.
This book describes the geography, history, government, economy, and the culture of Kenya.
Senoga - Zake, George W. Folk Music of Kenya. Kenya: Uzima Press, 1986.
This is an introduction to Kenya Music and the importance it plays in the every day lives of the people.
“TheCulturalBackground”,AfricaOnline- Kenya: Travel,
This online article discusses the different ways that Kenya culture is exposed through its people.
Waterman, Christopher Alan, 1993 -1995, “African Music”, Microsoft® Encarta® 96 Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation.
This reference contains musical information on different regions in Africa, including, musical style, instruments, African music in society, and popular music. Samples of each can also be heard.
This book provides historical and geographical information on Kenya, as well as engaging information on the country’s people and culture.
Kairi, Wambui. Kenya. Austin: Raintree Steck - Vaughn, 2000
This book attempts to make your mouth water and your taste buds tingle as you find out all about Kenya foods and festivals.
Mbure, Sam and et.al. Beneath the Rainbow: A Collection of Children’s Stories and Poems from Kenya. Jacaranda Designs, 1995.
Drawings on images and characters from traditional African myths, legends and folklore, this colorful anthology features three short stories and three poems from Kenya.
Paterson, Robert. Kenya: Cultures of the World. California: Benchmark Books,1995.
This book describes the geography, history, government, economy, and the culture of Kenya.
Ruben, Joel. Kenya in Pictures: Visual Geography Series. Lerner Publishing Company, 1988.
The text and photographs introduce the geography, history, government, people and economy of the thirty fourth African nation to gain independence.
Wa, Vincent Mull. East African Folktales: From the Voice of Mukamba (World Storytelling). August House Publishing, 1997.
This book contains eighteen folk stories derived from Kituku’s Kenya childhood are presented in both english and in the Kikamba language, creating a unique bilingual experience of short stories imbedded with East African culture.
Includes background informaiton, hands - on - activities, literature and music resource lists and color map.
D.M.A. Mathieson Fisher Carol, Fine Arts Activity Book: Music of Many Cultures, Mark Twain Media/ Carson - Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc. 1996.
Edwards, Phyllis, Social Studies Series World Geography, CA: Evan - Moor Corp., 1995.
This book contain materials to support learning, remembering about basic geography facts.
Nancy Tolson, Tales of Africa, Iowa: Perfection Learning, 1999.
Timeless tales explore the rich folklore of Africa.
Contents of 2000 Volume V | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute