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Country Kenya Genres roots traditional Website www.sarakasi.org Festival Sauti za Busara 2010 Recordings
Songa Yee, 2008
Utilising traditional rhythms and instruments, Mapacha Africa has brought forth another dimension to popular Kenyan music. The septet traces its beginnings to western Kenya in 1989 when these seven friends were in primary school. Inspired by the sounds they heard from street musicians in their small Kenyan village, Mapacha Africa has successfully adapted these rhythms into their own mix of contemporary and traditional sound.
One of the most notable elements of Mapacha Africa's unique style is the use of a curious instrument called an adeudeu. The adeudeu, which really has no western equivalent, can be said to resemble a large boat-shaped harp, and is made from cow skin, wood and shoe strings. As one masters the instrument more and more strings can be added. One observer states that the sound that it produces is “better than the guitar”. It was this instrument, and the sense of community that it brought, that first inspired the founding members of Mapacha Africa. As the members narrate, it was common to see old men sitting and singing at the village square, an adeudeu between each pair of feet, all sharing a pot of traditional liquor.
While Mapacha Africa continued to perform in western Kenya for several years, their big break came in 2005 when they performed for Gatina Primary School in Nairobi's Kawangware area. In attendance at the event was world renowned athlete, and ambassador to the World Food Programme, Paul Tergat, who later introduced the group to Sarakasi Trust, a performing arts development organisation working toward building capacity in the arts sector in Kenya.
Working with Sarakasi Trust, the group created their first album in January 2006, entitled Angalia (meaning “Look” in Swahili). The group then went on to work with Sarakasi, performing at several festivals including the North Sea Jazz concert at Kasarani (Nairobi) in February 2006.
In March 2008, the group was invited to Holland by Mundial Productions to record their second album, Songa Yee with the band New Cool Collective. In May 2008, the group was invited back to Holland to perform at the Mundial Festival.
Mapacha group members include: Kassim Munyanya Erima, Donald Witila Mulongo, Shadrack Onyango, Isaac Sidika, John Aziz, Solomon Mwanish Kaiga, and Maurice Mala Otieno. They are now looking forwards to exposing more listeners worldwide to the adeudeu and traditional Kenyan music.