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Kı ̃miiri[‘Crusher’ – in contemporary Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ a euphemism for HIV/AIDS], Kamaru ̃ conceptualizes his responsibility as a singer as similar to the spiritual role played by the Biblical prophet Samuel, in the life of Israel; having been summoned from the pastures, he is now charged with guiding the nation. Fellow Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ musician John De Mathew has used the HIV metaphor extensively in his compositions to refer to the ODM, also referred to as ‘the enemy’.In an apparent extension of the idea of calamity that is invoked by the reference to Kı ̃miiri,Kamaru ̃ contends that the be headings that occurred in various parts of Nairobi and Central provinces in early 2007 that were blamed on the Mu ̃ngı ̃kı ̃2cannot have been executed by anyone who is familiar with Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ traditions.

According to the singer, outsiders/enemy/devil instigated theJournal of African Cultural Studies65Downloaded by [Kenyatta University] at 05:15 27 May 2016
killings so that the state would turn against the Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ male youth who the singer deems to be animportant reserve army that can be deployed, when necessary, for the defence of ethnic interests.The minister for security – himself a Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ – under whom the organs of state violence such asthe police fall, is portrayed in the video as having played into opposition’s tricks. Again, the‘prophet’ repeats the injunction that the house of Mu ̃mbi has defied God’s will and hence theircurrent travails. The message about the Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ nation’s sins is reiterated inNgai Tuohere‘Forgive us God’ but an intercessory request is made on behalf of the nation; ‘command thedevil to leave us alone.’ The seer warns that after this last chance – supposedly to get anotherterm for Kibaki as president – God might lose patience with the Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃.

The land question is revisited in the succeeding track, ‘Ngai nı ̃ Ngai’ which might be renderedas ‘God is God’ or, even more pointedly, as ‘God is the divider’. The latter rendition has anespecially profound significance around the hot topic in contemporary Kenyan politics, aboutmajimboor regionalism, and land redistribution all advocated by the oppositionists. Thesinger states: ‘God knew why he allocated particular people to specific locations and he doesnot need any help.’ This is in apparent reference to the fear that majimboism would not onlylead to the balkanization of the country but also, more critically, lead to the expulsion ofpeople, especially the Agı ̃ku ̃yu ̃, from non-native regions into which they have settled. Thuswhereas Kamaru ̃ does not repudiate the idea of the larger Kenyan nation, he is emphatic thatthe place of the Agı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ within that construct is firmly inscribed upon the country’s map andany attempts to redesign it throughmajimbowould be tantamount to tampering with God’swill. There is a conspicuous attempt here to mark Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ land in terms of an idyllic Gardenof Eden; tampering with it can only portend disaster. This message dovetails with the themeof the songNgwa na marurumı ̃‘Lightning and thunder’ which warns the Agı ̃ku ̃yu ̃,andu ̃aMwathani‘God’s people’, that a time will come when they must run away from the devil andascend to heaven. It is noticeable here that the idea of ‘chosenness’ is emphasized as amarker of Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ identity, a notion that is important in two senses. First the idea is raisedthat God’s elect have particular claims upon the world that come to them by means of that pri-vileged position. In this way, the Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ assume a natural claim to leadership of Kenya. It marksthem as the chosen ones, different from other nations,Akalidei[Chaldeans] as they are oftenreferred to in conversation. This enables us to understand the often-stated Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ aversion tovoting for people from ethnic groups such as the Luo (perceived to predominate in the opposi-tion) and whose difference is constructed principally on the fact that they don’t traditionallypractice circumcision as the Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ do.Unlike preceding songs,Thayu ̃ wa Ngai‘God’s peace’ is a chanted peace prayer composed ina blend of slow reggae beat andbengarhythms. The code-switching from Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ to Kiswahiliand English makes it appear like a truly nationalist prayer. However, the fact that he is interestedfirst in the Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ nation before looking outwards to pray for Kenya and subsequently Africasuggests that while Kamaru ̃ might appreciate the ideal of pan-Africanism, he choses toproceed from an awareness of the ethnic nation as the primary site of identity alongsidewhich relationships with others (in the nation and on the continent) are negotiated. Thesinger’s understanding that identity must begin from an essential particularity (the ethnic andthen the broader nationality) is extended to his reading of the relationship between Kenya andAfrica in the last song,Kenya ni yetu‘Kenya belongs to us all’ when he asserts that ‘Kenyais the heart of Africa...the pride of Africa.’ This might be a good way of accounting for thepersistent code-shifting in this song. The shift from Gı ̃ku ̃yu ̃ to Kiswahili and then Englishreflects the idea of the greater nation built upon ethnic states.

Read more about this record from this research paper:

Excerpt from : Mbugua wa Mungai
Journal of African Cultural Studies
Vol. 20, No. 1, East African Culture, Language and Society (Jun., 2008), pp. 57-70


released June 22, 2020

Remaster: Joseph Kamaru (KMRU)


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Joseph Kamaru (1939 – 2018)
Little known outside of Africa, Joseph Kamaru has been influencing the music scene in his homeland of Kenya since 1967. While his earliest hits, " Celina", "Thina wa Kamaru" were rhythmic dance tunes, recorded with his sister.
Kamaru was a Kenyan Benga and gospel musician and political activist, an an icon, a hero, and a leading Kikuyu musician.
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