Dan Onyango: Bringing indigenous expression to the future

Daniel Onyango wields the nyatiti

The nyatiti is used in spiritual practice and to sing historical praise songs. But it can also accompany humorous songs, peppered with puns and proverbs, as well as songs delving into social realities. – Real World Records

You may recall Ayub Ogada ‘one of the greatest Kenyan artists of all time,’ the who brought the nyatiti to the world. Or you might remember Kothbiro, one of Ogada’s early compositions that was in the soundtrack of numerous films, including Constant Gardener (2004) and epic documentary Samsara (2011).

The nyatiti ninja inspires a young Dan Onyango to carry on his mission to take the instrument to greater heights.

The perspective on our own indigenous music and instruments is askew, quite visibly in East African contemporary spaces. We go to lengths to expand our minds with and to study forms of exotic expression; yet we know little of our own.

“One of the biggest challenges that comes with indigenous knowledge is that you have to search it from people who are already practicing to get this knowledge,” says Onyango.

Only a background in ethno-musicology or physical closeness to a community would warrant one’s knowledge of these cultural objects. As far as we know, the nyatiti is an instrument reserved for rural folk.

He wields the nyatiti, complex a weapon in the noble fight to keep ethnic expressions and indigenous narratives alive. His mission – to bridge the gap between the urban perspective held of the nyatiti and real narrative of the instrument, by adapting a rural instrument in a contemporary space.

“I’d like to bring the nyatiti to an urban setting, because it is possible for the young generation to embrace this instrument,” he adds that music is universal and has the ability reach to greater audiences.

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Whether covering a Kenyan folk song, or singing an original tune, Onyango maintains an element of playful storytelling, heavy with undertones of strong community values, African virtue and positive vibes.

WiBO Culture had the pleasure of hosting the singer, songwriter, nyatiti player and rising star in Nairobi’s creative hub, The Alchemist (Art@TheBusWkend 3).

Onyango works with youth in the informal settlements of Eastlands, Nairobi to share knowledge, experience and open up possibilities and hope for the disenfranchised.

“We are responsible for our own future; I believe in the power of a creative community that is deeply rooted with humanity.”

Tune in to Stories From WiBO Culture for an close-up with Dan Onyango’s Nyatiti Stories.

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WiBO Culture T-Shirt Design Competition 2016

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WiBO Culture is looking for an illustrator!

In celebration of the immense talent of our diverse Nairobi communities, WiBO culture is looking for an illustrator to contextualize and visualize “otherwise” a phrase common in Kenyan conversations. The winning design will become the signature print for a memorable limited edition T-Shirt design.

STAND THE CHANCE TO WIN !!

Competition entry is free.

THE BRIEF

“OTHERWISE?”

“Otherwise?” is a phrase that is common in many kenyan conversations. It often comes after a greeting, but it mostly means nothing. Sometimes it means something, which no one can interpret to anything. Statistically, 80% of kenyans use it!

We are looking for an illustrator who can visualize this phrase in the most creative, cunning, cool way!

DEADLINE

12 Midnight Wednesday 18th May 2016. Late submissions will not be accepted.

THE REWARD

  • Four festival passes to Art@The Bus Weekend (3 – 5 June 2016)
  • Your design officially recognized as the winner of the WiBO Culture 2016 T-Shirt Design Competition and printed as official limited-edition merchandise!
  • Exclusive contract with WiBO Culture, to design all WiBO Culture merchandise for 6 months.

BE CREATIVE, HAVE FUN AND KEEP IT ORIGINAL. The design should be appropriate for replication on a T-Shirt, so create something you would like to wear!

Artists and designers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to enter.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS / SPECIFICATIONS

Competition entry is via email to wiboculture@gmail.com

Entries close 12 Midnight, Wednesday 18th May 2016.

Artwork must must be provided as an email attachment, in JPG or PDF format ONLY.

Please also include the following information in your email:

  • Full Name
  • ID number
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Date Of Birth
  • OPTIONAL: Include ONE relevant link to your website OR blog as appropriate so we can show off your other work!

DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS

  • Design must be supplied for a two (2) colour screen printed T-Shirt (2 colour spot print). For example – red & yellow, white & blue, black & green
  • Design should be considered for use against a plain white, grey, brown or black background
  • Design must include the phrase “Otherwise?”.
  • Design should fit within A4 ratio dimensions, portrait or landscape.

COMPETITION TERMS & CONDITIONS

By submitting an entry to the WIBO Culture 2016 T-Shirt Design Competition you acknowledge that you are subject to the terms and conditions of the competition as outlined below.

Entries must be received by 12 Midnight, Wednesday 18th May 2016. Late entries will not be accepted.

Participants agree that the submitted design and images comprise their own original work and that they own all copyright in the image and/or parts that comprise the image.

Participants agree that the work has not been used for any prior promotional or commercial purpose in any capacity.

Any evidence of plagiarism in any work or efforts to manipulate the voting process will result in disqualification of the entrant from the competition.

WiBO Culture assumes no responsibility for late, delayed or disqualified entries.

Individual participants are able to submit multiple entries.

Entry is via email to wiboculture@gmail.com. Entries must be submitted as email attachments in JPG or PDF format and must not be more than 4MB in size. Accompanying email must include participant’s full name, mailing address, date-of-birth, email address and telephone contact number.

Winning participants must be able to provide print quality, high-resolution versions of their design, as layered PSD/AI files (minimum resolution 210 × 297 mm @ 300dpi) or scalable vector/EPS files.

WiBO Culture reserves the right to disqualify any entry considered offensive or out of line with festival ideals, culture and values.

Artwork will be judged according to the stated design brief and any submission that does not fit the competition brief and specifications will not be considered.

The First Prize and Runner Up  Winners will have their work produced as official WiBO Culture Merchandise that will be available for purchase at the Art@The Bus Wkend and through other WiBO Culture events.

Participants acknowledge that the winning design may be subject to modification, adaptation or interpretation by a WiBO Culture designer in order to prepare the design for printing purposes.

WiBO Culture will use best efforts where appropriate to credit artwork correctly to participants.

First Prize and Runner Up winners will be announced on Friday 3RD June 2016.

 

Shortlist for Community Management Trainee is out!

Hello friends,

We received quite a number of applications for the position of Community Management Trainee. Lets just say, we have quite a number of jobless people out there, people who are seeking every possible opportunity to advance.

Unfortunately we could not hire everyone, so we have narrowed down to 6 candidates, 3 men and 3 women, to maintain fairness and order of the constitution and society. They will be called for the interviews soon.

We also found some interesting things that often disqualify candidates from prospective positions and make them look stupid naive and often, stupid. We pulled out some of those and are willing to share with you, not to victimise the applicants but in order to share valuable lessons with everyone.

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We came up with a few tips to help you when applying for a job.

  1. Do not forward a CV you sent to a previous job – it doesn’t work, it doesn’t portray you as a serious human being. It makes you pass for a blindfolded hunter who expects to shoot a fat deer and bring home dinner.
  2. Check the context of the job you are applying for VERY keenly. You can’t be a cook  from Utalii College of Kenya and apply for a job at the senior security advisor to the president of the United Republic of Chase Bank, while you cant demonstrate experience in security.
  3. Submit an application that is within your level of experience. If you have a masters degree and apply for a cleaners job, you pass for being cheap, desperate and unfocused. Know your worth!
  4. Of the many applications we received, only one candidate submitted a proper motivations statement. There is a difference between a cover letter and motivation statement. Go do your homework.
  5. We know templates for CVs, cover letters and recipes exist online. First avoid copy pasting; and if you must, be careful not to sound too sophisticated without a backbone to support that level of sophistication. The best way to fire someone is by promoting them to a level of incompetency.
  6. Grammar, sentence construction and punctuation  tells a lot about a persons attention to detail. Starting a sentence without a capital letter tells much about your English teacher or yourself. Mixed fonts types and jumbled font sizes warns a prospective employer of the amount of time they have to spent teaching you what that computer college in Githurai didn’t.
  7. Coherence between academic and career progression as well as interests is a good sign of consistency. There is only a handful of people who can be a jack of all trades, but that’s after some level of specialisation. Whereas it is quite unfair, our society still requires you to demonstrate that you can do one thing and do it well – its called specialisation.
  8. If you have a degree in divinity and you are seeking for an arts management job, please read the verse in the bible which says “do not mix water with wine.”

Till the next time, good people.

WiBO Highlights: Art@The Bus Wkend Vol. 2

G-Cho Pevu Poet

The second edition of Art @ The Bus from April 1-3 was an afro-licious weekender. Fresh and electrifying acts took the stage and positive vibes reigned supreme in the collaborative space that is The Yard.

Here are some forward thinking artists who are taking their exploration to another level visually and musically. Listen to our podcast on here to get a taste of what stole our ears and hearts.

Awuor Onyango

Awuor is a writer, visual artist, photographer and budding film-maker. Her practice is concerned with claiming public space disallowed to people considered black, woman and other, whether the space is intellectual, physical, in memory or historical. Her work was included in Walking the Tightrope, Poetry and Prose from LGBTQ writers from Africa, published in 2016.

Her latest work, Give me Back my Black Dolls is the space from which Awuor launches an inquiry into blackness and the feminine. By using the work of a chemical engineer turned “archivist” Watson Kintner she questions the link between his supposedly objective white gaze into culture and history and our own view of the black and feminine. Through her imagery in she delves into self-perception and its influences.

 

Wahenya Wenyeji and G-Cho Pevu

On stage, Wahenga Wenyeji could pass for a typical band, a drummer, vocalist, a bass player, save for two unlikely additions – a young boy and girl. Esther sings and plays a guitar twice her size, and little Chris has the confidence of a star. They are redefining the art of performance within the family setup.

Have a listen to the WiBO Culture podcast with Mwl. Gregg Tendwa, as he explores their music on https://soundcloud.com/wiboculture

Esther and Chris, Wahenga Wenyeji Band

Chris and Esther of Wahenga Wenyeji Band

Their father Musa, is nurturing the two young ones to become professional performers. He believes that artistic talents should be encouraged amongst the young, because their gifts and interests are a way towards a good livelihood.

The band believes that their music can be a vehicle of social change, through using art to educate and inspire the youth.

Wahenga Wenyeji has been together for two years and has performed at a number of shows and festivals in Kenya. The band also collaborates with G-Cho Pevu, a spoken word artist.

Spoken word lyricism is on the rise in Nairobi, as young word slingers are finding new ways to blow your mind. G-Cho Pevu is one such poet and he is taking Nairobi by a storm.

G-Cho began experimenting with spoken work poetry in 2012 and felt inspired to become a voice for the voiceless. By speaking for the people who cannot speak for themselves, he is paving way for the dawn of sheng spoken word poetry.

G-Cho Pevu

G-Cho Pevu Poet

GCho Pevu and Wahenga

G-Cho Pevu and Wahenga Wenyeji Band

Through his social commentary, G-Cho wants to activate the youth to spread love and positivity. He calls out to fellow artists, telling them to shy away from creating art which derails the masses; instead to create art which inspires even the generations to come.

As a spoken word artist, G-Cho wants to “take spoken word poetry to the Grammy Awards”. He urges artists to make positive contributions to society.

“If you can change the society, you can change the universe.” – G Cho Pevu

G-Cho gives us a piece of his mind on https://soundcloud.com/wiboculture

Afro Simba Band

The Afro Simba Band represents a strong front of live African music. Their music goes beyond showing off musical or technical skill and flaunting the latest rhythms. It is music that tells a story.

The drums and bass guitar set the pace and you can immediately pick up a distinct Mijikenda melody and beat. As Kombo lays down a classic rock riff, it all comes together.  One can see that they are having fun up there, telling their story.

Kombo ASB

Kombo

Afro Simba Band

Afro Simba Band

 

Introducing the 2nd Edition of Art@TheBusWkend

Welcome back to the city, we hope you and a good Easter weekend. We know you are looking for something fresh, and so, this coming weekend,  1-2-3 April 2016, we have you covered.

We have curated this a-one-of-a-kind weekender for you – 3 days of pure #Afrogoodness, drawn from the culture of collaborative spaces. You don’t have to go out of town because we have a line up that reflects our commitment to unearth and present the authentic underground love and artistry from/around East Africa.

For the first time, we present #femmelectroniKE, an all female Dj ensemble from Kenya. We bring in a collaboration between two of most amazing contemporary Kenyan artists, Winyo and Nina Ogot to preview Yote Yote, a collaborative album they released in 2015. We host a farewell party for friends inside the festival. We bring in a sunday afternoon chill out for family and friends, listening to contemporary mijikenda folk from Afrosimba band.

The Sanaa market will be running all day. We throw in a free Apple clinic for all mac product users. An interactive Anamorphic expression photo booth will be running through out the weekend. A video installation about reclaiming the back doll will be in the running on repeat. We have your diet covered by Upendo Pizza and Mama Rocks, while The Alchemist Watering hole will be open to receive your thirst.

This festival is a first of its type in Nairobi and we seek to grow it with you. Thanks to Keroche Breweries Ltd and UP Nairobi for believing and supporting this idea. Through this partnership, 2 bands and 4 djs that auditioned at the February #call4artists get to perform on this stage, and connect to new audiences. through this partnership, we continue to brew and present what is authentically Kenyan in the urban space.

Tweet, Share, Tag and bring yourself, your friends and family.  Keep connected with us on
https://twitter.com/WiBOCULTURE
http://wiboculture.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/WiBO-Culture
http://www.youtube.com/WiBOCULTURE

Artcellerator is looking for a community management trainee

WiBO Culture Artcellerator is a community-based organization that accelerates the socio-economic potential of cultural and creative products in Kenya. Currently part of the The Bus Collective inside the Yard in the Westlands area of Nairobi, WiBO Culture Artcellerator is looking for an enthusiastic community management trainee to join our team of wild and weird creatives.

Currently, the WiBO Culture Artcellerator is running the following 3 initiatives.

  1. Art@TheBusWkend – in partnership with Summit Beer and Up Magazine, the bimonthly festival curates, showcases and connects emerging talent to new audiences. It serves as a hub where artists will connect, learn and share; a spotlight for artists to gain visibility and a market place for artists to connect their products to audiences.
  2. BengaLive @ Kenya National Theatre – is a monthly event that seeks to advance the Benga style of Kenyan dance music within the cultural and creative sector in Kenya and beyond.
  3. Sanaa Clinic, a peer-learning and development initiative that enables the transfer of knowledge, skills and practice through by connecting young, up and coming artists to mentors and established artists through master classes.

WiBO Culture Artcellerator believes in developing a generation of well-rounded leaders of tomorrow, leaders that will transform and sustain the cultural and creative ecosystem in East Africa.

We are looking for someone to grow and propel a start-up idea to global success. We are looking forward to giving this young person the opportunity to learn, apply, advance and become an all-round guru in developing a purpose driven creative community that becomes a force to recon with.

Therefore, we are not looking for a conventional adherent. We are looking for someone to experiment with future ways of working, to chart their own path, to develop their own style, to explore the new, and to look back and celebrate achievement.

Your duties and responsibilities will include : –

  1. Administration
    • Oversee the day-to-day running of the start-up, figuring out and troubleshooting problems, foreseen and unforeseen.
    • Keep records, including processing financial and administrative paperwork without getting bored.
    • Draft and adapt contracts for service providers, members and partners
    • Documentation of various organizational activities and initiatives through well-written minutes, reports and communiqués.
  2. Organizational Development
    • Conceptualize and maintain organizational systems including foolproof financial, human resource and membership schemes.
    • Develop, maintain and manage a database and mailing list for members, supporters, networks and partners.
    • Draft membership charters and oversee recruitment members to the organization
  3. Management
    • Draft and oversee the execution of quarterly work plans against a corresponding budget that optimizes the use of scarce resources.
    • Ensure that activities are conducted in accordance with work plans and budgets.
    • Ensure all activities follow laid down procedures and are appropriately reported
    • Keeping and maintain an inventory of organizational assets, tangible and intangible.
  4. Liaison, Retention and Engagement
    • Manage relationships with the organization publics – keep clients satisfied, smiling and coming back.
    • Be the contact and to-go-to person for the community of artists and mentors
    • Manage organizational image though constant communication over email and social media
    • Draft and upload articles for web/blog and press statements
    • Public relations and communication – Maintain a web profile by regularly developing or sourcing for content and making web updates
    • Positively represent the organization at networking forums, events and meetings
  5. Business Development
    • Secure and exploit opportunities for the growth and development of the organization and its members
    • Broker and secure partnerships that are useful for the organization and community members
    • Ensure that business processes utilize organizational resources in the most prudent and optimal manner
    • Earn bonus and commissions for establishing new revenue streams and properly managing revenue generated.

Qualifications

We don’t care if you have a diploma, certificate or degree, just be literate and able to communicate – just don’t be or aspiring to be a shallow socialite. We don’t care if you are Kenyan or not, we don’t care if you are male or female or genderless. We don’t care if you live in the ghetto or suburbia.

What we care about is your willingness to learn, develop and become the best that there can be. You need to prove to us that you are able to deliver the above portfolio while having fun. We need you to demonstrate initiative, enthusiasm, innovation and dedication to a cause, without burning out, becoming grumpy or whining at strangers to attract sympathy.

The rest will organically fall into place.

Whats in it for you?

You will get to work in a creatively charged environment with minimal supervision. You get to be mentored by the founder and one of the most experienced development strategist and highly networked resource persons in the cultural and creative sector in East Africa. A modest monthly stipend will be provided. A review of terms will be undertaken after 6 months of your engagement, and an upward review is guaranteed depending on your performance. You will earn commissions and bonus from revenue streams that you establish and secure.

Do you fit this profile? Send your letter of application, CV and motivation statement to wiboculture@gmail.com to reach before 31 March 2016. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Why the WiBO Culture ARTcellerator?

We believe that the psychological and socioeconomic well being of society is a direct outcome of the quality and quantity of performance art. Otherwise put, we have been struggling to answer the question – why are our toddlers twerking? We understand that this is a source of pride to many, but – why do we want to make twerking a boring affair? It should be a preserve of a few professionals.
As is characteristic of every philosophy, we spare some energy to share with you ours. We are well aware that it might not please you, but again the ARTcellerator was birthed by dissatisfaction and dissapointment in the under current order of our performance art. Are we bringing anything new? Perhaps yes, perhaps not – depending on how you look at it – half full or empty it’s up to you, because, we just want to sustain a coherent thrust against the bubble-gum tide. May be it works, may be we give up, may be we change something – we don’t know yet, we will just try.
So, honorable musicians, distinguished poets, lyricists, comedians, twerkers, audience and anything in between.
1. Do not call us simply because you need to make an extra buck from another gig, or you simply need a stage to be seen at the right place at the right time with the right people. We dont do celebrity, we dont pay well, we simply do art and the rest has a way of following. Show us your work, tell us your journey, struggles, ambitions, dreams and dissapointments, demonstrate your core following, even if a handful, and we will think through with you and put up the appropriate occasion for you.
2. Our performing artists, if you agree to put on a show on a stage we are curating, we have the pleasure of providing a production team to stretch the potential of your performance. We are tired of mediocre acts, with flashing china lights, guys scratching their crotch, girls swagging boobs and the struggle to twerk at every beat. Whereas that might be important to you, we dont consider it art. That is why we chose a curatorial path that improves the quality of performance, and differentiates us from well endowed event organizers.
3. Our dear djs, do not pester us to have you in our line up only for you to show up to play generic commercial tunes downloaded from charts and flash drives of friends and fellow djs. Scratching , nduru, nyongwa and the journey through synthetic effects, breaking bottles and sirens simply destroys music. They do not add an inch to your creative worth. Music already playing on radio doesnt need to be played twice. Every phone has a radio today, indeed, we could listen to that instead. In fact, we need to let radio know that  there is great music, fresh from the oven, that they ignore to play. So, please, take us on a journey through soundscapes, to places we have never been before. Show us your homework.
4. All ye comedians and spoken word lyricists, we are tired of tribal, political and religious stereotype and associated rhetoric. Please get done with it. We love to tackle the most serious of issues amidst laugther and light. Hip hop, we are tired of your anger. We dont need it. We need engagement and flow that takes us to spaces we have never been. We are done with the minimalist nature of these spoken art forms, we need to see something immersing and characteristically different.
5. Our esteemed audience, We understand that you are important to us, but allow us to think and be creative. Therefore, do not show up at our events and ask us to play you what you were listening to on your way to the event. Do not demand that our artists play for you riddims and covers of Adelle. She has made it, that’s why you know her, our artists havent made it. There are places you can find covers and unconscious music, we recommend you to Karaoke, it does exactly that. You see, you also have to go to the toilet to let  out yesterdays food so that you can have some more today.  Creators are constipating because you are not allowing bowel movement. We sweat to rehearse and put on live events. We have a reason why we vigorously promote Afro + Live + Electro & Experimental, and we know we are not boring.
Finally, If you want to attempt the path not easily followed, explore new dimensions, find new markets, be experimental, try out emerging technologies, take risks on behalf of the generation that comes after us, defend our ever eroding cultural identity, collaborate internationally, build an ethic around our art, make timeless art, advance the quality of productions and shows to new spaces that you don’t see clearly, be an artist and not a mere entertainer, enjoy trust and allow yourself and others around you to give you feedback, put the art before the stomach, then we would love to work with you.

From the desk of Mwalimu Mkuu,

Founder/Creative Director

WiBO Culture Artcellerator.