Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kipchamba Arap Tapotuk: King of kalenjin Music

Opinion Article By Sollo Kiragu

Renowned musician Raphael Kipchamba arap Tapotuk who was given a hero's send-off at his Nyatembe village in Bomet district, was a household name in not only Kenya, but also the neighbouring countries.

He will be remembered especially for his songs which were occasionally harsh commentaries on culture, politics, the environment and the economy.

In his close to 1,000 songs, he sang about HIV and the disease it causes - Aids - as well as the floundering constitution review.

"Not even the children were left out; silence was not golden, nor talking silver," one of the songs runs.

Kipchamba's music soothes, provokes and deliberately charms the listener, and his wheedling voice endeared him to many.

Humour is abundant in his works, and he effortlessly wove it into his songs as he poked fun at the man nature.

Always clean-shaven and smartly dressed, he was not the typical village musician. And although a celebrated Kalenjin singer until his death last week, his music traversed the ethnic boundaries.

He was not vainglorious nor the self-seeking type across the street. And although he was not honoured in any meaningful way, this did little to dampen his spirits - most probably because he sang not for money, but to entertain and educate.

Music was an art and a medium by which he put his messages across in an articulate way. "I was not driven by commercial interests and I did not pursue payments for most of my popular songs recorded in the earlier days," the musician once said.

Kipchamba's last public show was at Kericho's Mid-West Hotel during a function in which local Marathon Centre performed well in the Standard Chartered road race, one of the greatest road in the world.

He was a conservative and religious man and strictly observed the Kalenjin customs and traditional beliefs.

The musician was selfless man who sacrificed a lot for the community, and believed in passing on knowledge and wisdom to the young. For instance, he once reportedly converted one of his houses into a classroom in which he taught the youth to play the guitar and other musical instruments.

Born in Bomet district in 1937, Kipchamba dropped out of school early for lack of fees and started singing at the tender age of 10.

His teacher at Segemik primary school, Linus Sitienei, discovered his music talent in 1950. "I owe much of my success to Mr Sitienei," he once told journalists in an interview.

At school, Kipchamba was a bright pupil and active athlete, but his parents could not afford the Sh105 yearly fee required by the Catholic-sponsored Kaplong intermediate school, now Kaplong boys secondary, in Bureti district.

Breaking up with his first music partnership after four years in 1959 was not a setback. He played the traditional guitar, or chemonges, but and picked up the modern one later in a career that spanned half a century.

His band, Koilng'et, comprised Oriango arap Chepkwony, Francis Langat, Moris Mainek and Sekeri Tallam, and their first recording happened in Kisumu. They then moved to Kericho to start recording with Chandarana Music Stores.

Kipchamba can be said to be the father figure of music in the Kalenjin land as he was a genius in the composition of high-quality, undiluted and inspirational songs.

Among his best are Kibiritit, Teret tab Kogo, Kimulogong, Mukeni and Mokori. But most probably due to low earnings at the earlier stages, Kipchamba did not at any one time live the life of a celebrity.

Former President Daniel arap Moi once described him as "a real and authentic singer" and recognised his role in the unification of cultures of all the Rift Valley communities.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Who needs a wife anymore?

By Shirley Genga

Women have changed. That is a fact. They have evolved over time, and the modern woman is identifiable by some characteristics such as financial independence, successful career and ideological liberty.

But they are not the only ones who have evolved. Men too have changed. Today’s man is especially an enigma to the woman and many women are left scratching their heads, no longer sure of the role they play in men’s lives. Some of the baffling trends of modern men, to which women will have to adapt, are:

He cares much about his appearance

He looks perfectly put together, with his hair closely cut or meticulously combed and knows how to match his clothes.

His nails are regularly manicured, in a salon to make it worse. It is there that he gets his pedicures and facial treatment as well.

His presentable image goes further; his house is tastefully furnished and always clean, while the sofas, curtains and carpet are not just thrown together. This man, clearly, does not need a woman to arrange his crib or his wardrobe.

He has one or more baby mamas’

It does not matter what you do, all he just wants to do is have fun. He can date you for two years and not once mention marriage.

Even the idea of you moving in with him is repugnant, and he will often do everything in his power not to discuss commitment at that level, citing his need for freedom and personal space.

Today’s men don’t need to marry in order to have children — and so there is not enough incentive for him to sign on the dotted line.

This is exacerbated by the possibility of him having been in other long-term relationships or even marriage. So all he wants from his girlfriend is sex and companionship. Ladies, silence your maternal instincts.

Further, be ready to deal with incessant calls from his baby’s mother and to cancel many a date because he is taking his children out.

He has loyal house help

He treats her like his mother, she means the world him and he will not tolerate any talking back when it comes to her. She can do what no wife can ever do — she will cook him whatever dish he asks for, keeps his house clean and washes and press his clothes and not once does she nag him or complain about how much work she has done.

She works round his schedule, and when he is tired of her, he can easily replace her. So she comes at a cheaper cost and with peace of mind.

His time with the boys is sacred

His time is meticulously planned; you cannot just pop in and surprise him. If you want to come over you must call in advance and let him decide whether or not to admit you.

Most of the time, he is with his ‘boyz’. You always meet him on his terms— he calls when he needs you and when he doesn’t call, he claims to be busy.

He jealously guards his time with his male friends like his life depended on it. In his hierarchy of important things, you probably come last — after his children, buddies, baby mama and house help.

His commitment is half-hearted

According to him, his life is perfect, he has money, a good job, friends to keep him busy, children to carry on his legacy, someone to take care of him — who is not his wife or mother.

When entering a relationship he is only after what all the above do not give him. So he gives of himself half-heartedly and stringing his woman along because he has no need for a wife. His life is complete without a wife