Kenya: How Mbogi Konnection Is Spreading Their Cultural Message to the Youth

They say music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

When I first heard Mbogi Konnection playing the melodies it gave me an eclectic mix of energy.

Every Thursday afternoon the upcoming artistes meet at Kenya National Theatre for 'poetry after lunch'.

Here you will find spoken words artistes, dancers, and instrumentalists who are doing amazing art.

Last Thursday my pal, who is an amazing spoken word artiste, was performing at the event and she had invited me over.

So I decided to pass by at around 1pm and give my girl support. At the compound, I was attracted to the sound of drum beats and saxophone from afar.

I followed the beautiful melody to one corner of the compound and just at the entrance of the main auditorium were four young men.

Two of the guys were playing the drum, one saxophone and the other was a dancer/spoken word artiste. When these guys take to the stage it's not a performance but a transformation. So much energy and love.

MUSICAL POETRY

They played with passion and love, but what got my attention is how they handled their instruments. The gentleness and care can only be compared to that of a mother to her child.

The team plays the Djembe drums and a saxophone and it had a splendid, singing, powerful voice.

The group, Mbogi Konnection was born last year after the four gentlemen decided to come together. They were performing with different groups but somehow African music brought them together.

Sitonick "Ice-Tonic" Taiyana (dancer), Joash Masese (saxophonist), Gugz' Ngugi (percussionist) and Abdul Sigilai (percussionist) are Afro-centric artistes who express their art through musical chants and poetry.

Apart from Masese, who started music at a younger age, the rest got interested in music after joining high school.

After high school, Abdul and Gugz joined the music group while Sitonick and Masese continued with school.

"Growing up in Eastleigh, I crossed path with Genge musicians from Califonia Estate and I admired them. I knew from then music is what I wanted to do. But it's only in high school that I made up my mind to pursue music,"said Gugz

Sitonick is a 4th-year law student while Masese is studying engineering.

CULTURAL EVENTS

They share and promote African art and culture with the masses through the principle of love.

"We decided to go the African way because we feel our culture is fading away slowly," said Ice-Tonic

Their love for African culture drew them closer and it's the same reason why the quadruple love the Djembe drum, making it their main tool of trade.

The Djembe is possibly one of the most influential of all African drums.

Their first project together dubbed "Ona" was spoken word and instrumental performance.

The group has been holding cultural events within the city with the aim of educating the Millenials about the African culture, heritage, and identity.

"Growing up we did not have anyone to educate us about our Africanism. Most of the things we learnt by ourselves. We want to teach the youth what was not taught to us," said Abdul

In between their performances, the quadruple take time to educate the youth, who are their main audience, on the importance of preserving the forest.

UNGANISHA FESTIVAL

Conversation on forest conservation is something close to their hearts. For the group to continue mentoring more youth and teaching them how to play Djembe, they have to tell them about the importance of the forest.

"We mostly plant trees that the future generation can use to make the drums from. If we are going to cut down the trees we would rather stat planting them now," said Masese.

More indigenous trees are needed in order to make more Djembes for future generations.

To plant more trees, the team is launching what would be an annual event in the city 'Unganisha' (Connect) Festival and a cultural event.

The event aims to connect the old and the new generation and learn from each other.

The culmination of all their events will be planting of trees in different spaces within Nairobi and its environs.

As the world marks World Environment Day on June 5, 2019, Mbogi Konnection is planning their first Unganisha Festival and are planning to plant 2,000 trees on that day.

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