p r o j e c t   p r o p o s a l

traditional music & cultures of kenya


- phases I and II -


A proposal to secure finance for the completion of a non-profit, multimedia website dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of the traditional music, cultures and heritage of Kenya.


Jens Finke, March 2003

Jens Finke, Apartado 542, 8700 Olhão, Portugal



This proposal seeks $10,000 to finance the completion of the Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya (www.bluegecko.org/kenya), a non-profit multimedia website dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of the traditional music, cultures, knowledge and heritage of Kenya's tribes. Despite being only one quarter complete, the website currently comprises over 500 pages of texts, 235 images and seven hours of music, and has received 30,000 visitors since going online in May 2000. The site owes its existence to a personal passion for traditional African music and cultures, and a desire to preserve those of Kenya in particular, following two trips of almost a year in that country. The site has been entirely self-funded so far, and has taken twelve months of (unpaid) full-time work to create. It is, and will always remain, entirely non-commercial, and does not contain advertising or product endorsements of any kind.

The impetus behind the site's creation came during my second trip to Kenya, over 1998-1999, while updating the Rough Guide to Kenya, a tourist guidebook. During my travels, which covered all of the country except the troubled northeast, I collected 130 cassettes of traditional music - ngoma ya kiasili, literally "music of the ancestors". Although the size of the collection, covering thirty-one tribes, may appear to be significant (indeed, it could be the world's fourth-largest archive of traditional Kenyan music, following the collections of the National Museum of Kenya (Nairobi), the Kenya Broadcasting Company (KBC), and the Kenya Permanent Presidential Commission for Music, none of which are accessible to the general public), the recordings represent pretty much all that was available without conducting fresh field recordings, and as such implies that a huge amount of material has already been lost.
   Indeed, during my travels I swiftly came to realize that many of Kenya's traditional cultures, and with them their music and an inestimable wealth of accumulated knowledge, are disappearing rather than adapting and changing to the new ways. The pace of political, social and economic change in Kenya is much too fast, too pressing, and too powerful, for the old ways to resist vanishing entirely. This, and the often dire physical quality of the analog cassettes I'd collected, many of which contain unique recordings of music that has already gone, meant that my priority once back home was to digitize the collection. Much to my initial surprise (albeit not to anyone who knows my propensity for ambitious projects), the resulting website rapidly took on the proportions of an encyclopaedia, and now serves as a repository for an enormous amount of otherwise hard-to-find cultural information. The website's primary purposes, therefore, are to preserve and make accessible a storehouse of archival material, and to stimulate interest (and pride) in Kenyan and African music and cultures at a time when many of the old ways, beliefs and customs - in some cases dating back over several thousand years - are being swept away.

The site's broad scope, the depth of its coverage, and its accessible language and style, is aimed equally at Kenyans and non-Kenyans, and to students and academics as well as those with a casual interest. Judging from emails and guest book entries received from visitors, the site also functions as a positive affirmation for Kenyans of the value of their cultures; see feedback, at the end of this proposal, for a representative selection of comments.

Regrettably, work on the website was shelved in September 2000 when I began work to research and write new guidebooks to Tanzania and Zanzibar, a full-time task that took until October 2002 to complete. The advance payment for those books failed even to pay my travelling costs (and royalties will only pay off the advance and subsequent updates in 2008), hence this proposal seeking external funding to complete the website.

The project is divided into four phases; funding is currently sought for the first two, which, funding permitting, will take sixteen months, with completion scheduled for August 2004.
   Phase I (nine months, using materials already in my possession), will bring the website to initial completion, more than tripling its current coverage to thirty-five tribes, 1500 pages of texts, 700 images and twenty-five hours of music.
   Phase II (seven months, including four in Nairobi), for which funding is also sought, involves the collation and digitization of material from the archives of the National Museum of Kenya, and the consequent expansion of the website to cover all of Kenya's forty-two officially-recognized tribes in 2000 pages of texts, 1500 images, thirty-five hours of music and two hours of video.
   Phases III and IV, which are described in this proposal but for which funding is not yet sought, involve the creation of new field recordings of both music and oral traditions, and the further expansion of the website to cover tribes excluded from the official census. Audio CDs (to profit performers and their communities) will also be produced, as will a multimedia CD-ROM, broadcast-quality documentary film footage, and a multimedia archive of the project to be distributed to various educational and non-profit institutions within Kenya and northern Tanzania.

Phases III and IV will involve a small project team (researcher, photographer and videographer, sound engineer and translator), but the two initial stages that are subject to this proposal require only myself. Certainly, this is an ambitious undertaking for one person alone, but in my defence (if such is needed), ambitious projects - and their successful conclusions - are certainly not a novelty: aged 18-19, I cycled alone from the UK to the Gambia, a six-month, 8000-kilometre trip that took me clean across the Sahara. Subsequently, I wrote a book describing the journey (my first foray into serious writing), which was published in 1996 as Chasing the Lizard's Tail (Impact Books, London). More recently, I've researched and written two guidebooks: the 320-page Rough Guide to Zanzibar, and the 800-page Rough Guide to Tanzania (of which I am inordinately proud), and which together required a full-time commitment of 25 months - the reason for having had to shelve work on the website.

The funding currently sought, $10,000, will entirely cover the cost of Phases I and II, being sixteen months of full-time work, including four in Kenya, with completion scheduled for the end of August 2004. By any standards, this is extremely cheap for the completion of nothing less than an encyclopaedia! Incidentally, the non-profit nature of the site, and the explicit terms of copyright permissions obtained for reproducing photographs and texts from third parties, exclude the possibility of commercial advertising.

I do hope that you'll find this proposal to be of interest. Should you require a copy of the website as it currently stands on CD-ROM, I'd be happy to oblige - just let me know.



Asili is a wonderful Kiswahili word that contains many meanings. It can be used to say beginning or origin, and it also describes the essence of something, as well as reason. Asili is also the word used to describe ancestors, meaning those people long ago who created societies and their cultures, who bore its first people, and who remain alive even today in the collective memory.

For many Africans, when a person dies, he or she is not really dead, but lives on instead in a spirit world, an underworld, or else in a state of limbo. Sometimes, the living - through prayer, invocation, sacrifice or dance - can contact them to ask advice, or forgiveness, or placate their rage, or ask them to intercede with the spirits or gods to bring rain to a dry and dusty land. These ancestors remain alive not only because they can help or hinder the living, but because they are remembered. For in remembrance lies persistence, which is continuity, which is the link from the past through the present and into the future. Only when the ancestors are remembered no more, and are truly forgotten, do they finally disappear into the void of nothingness.

Unfortunately, traditional Kenyan cultures are disappearing fast, and with it their music - ngoma ya kiasili. This website is dedicated to the surviving traditional cultures of Kenya, to the memory of those that have already been lost, and to the Asili, in the hope that they may not all be forgotten.



The Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya is hosted on my own domain, www.bluegecko.org, at www.bluegecko.org/kenya.

The bulk of the website's material is divided into distinct tribal sections, each containing on average ten subsections, which in turn can contain several more pages. A clean, simple, intuitive and yet comprehensive system of indexes and subindexes makes getting around the site a simple matter, even for those unaccustomed to computers or the internet. The site also contains a fully-indexed search engine, enabling users to search the website for documents containing particular words or phrases.

The site currently covers twelve of Kenya's forty-two officially-recognized tribes in detail, averaging 30-40 pages for each tribe (see Figure 1 for a summary of statistics).

Phase I of the project will extend the site's textual coverage to thirty-five tribes (98% of the national population), of which thirty-one (90% of the national population) will also be accompanied by full-length music clips. Phase II, involving the collation and digitization of archival material from the collection of the National Museum of Kenya and other archives in Nairobi, will expand the site's coverage to forty-two tribes, or over 99% of Kenya's population, each with a selection of full-length music clips presented online. Fieldwork in Phase III, which will concentrate on tribes not included in the official census, should bring this as close as possible to 100%.

For a detailed description of project phases, see section 4.


Textual content

Subsections common to all tribes include a general introduction together with facts and figures; bibliography; reviewed external internet links; history (often in several sections); daily life; society and social structure (often in several sections); initiation and phases of life; beliefs and/or religion; music and dance; arts and crafts; fables and legends; proverbs and riddles. Additional subsections of particular relevance to a tribe or to their geographic region are also included: for example, human prehistory (from fossil finds alongside Lake Turkana) in the section covering the Turkana tribe; trepanation (brain surgery) among the Gusii; modern art of the Luo; wood carvings of the Kamba and Makonde, and so on. In addition, the site also contains several contextual essays, currently covering Kenyan history and prehistory, music, people, major ethno-linguistic groups, and religions and beliefs.


Audio files

One of the website's major attractions, evidently enough, is music.
  Sound clips are presented in the open-source (free from patents) OGG format. Although a relatively new format, OGG audio files can be read on most new computers, and by most audio or multimedia players, either directly or through a plug-in. Advice and links are given throughout the site about recommended freeware audio players, and also contain a link to a page containing detailed troubleshooting information.
  The sound clips are "streamed" (via the M3U playlist protocol), enabling the user to listen to music as it is being downloaded from the site, rather than having to wait until the download is complete before playback. There are two great advantages to this: the user can listen to music while surfing the site, and sound clips become accessible to users with slow internet connections. Two versions of each track are available for playing: a "low quality" clip, whose reduced file size is designed to be playable on even the slowest of connections, and a "high quality" clip, playable over standard modem connections and up.



The website makes extensive use of photographs. To minimize delay to users while opening or viewing pages, reduced versions of photos ("thumbnails") are used to illustrate textual pages; a user can always view full-size versions, together with detailed descriptions, credits and copyright information, by clicking on the small versions.



I have gone to great lengths to ensure that the website is fully accessible and functional to all models of computers, operating systems, and internet browsers. Comparative statistics quoted below are from Browser News (http://www.upsdell.com/BrowserNews/stat_trends.htm), consulted 26 February 2003.

The site has two modes, static (necessary only for 0.1% of users), and dynamic. The choice is made automatically by the website, based on the capabilities of the user's browser and which functions, if any, have been disabled by the user.
  Both modes contain various methods for navigating the site: an interactive map, tribe list, index of all the site's main pages, a site-specific search engine, contextual essays containing onward links, and links contained within pages to other related sections. The dynamic mode also includes contextual indexes for each tribe.

This website has been extensively tested on the world's most popular internet browsers, namely Internet Explorer (versions 4, 5 and 6), Netscape Navigator (4 and 7), Mozilla (1.2), Opera (5, 6 and 7), Phoenix (0.5), K-Meleon and Avant.
  Given the widely differing implementations of the internet's WC3 "web standards", especially regarding JavaScript and cascading style sheets, an extensive, elaborate and hopefully exhaustive system of browser-specific workarounds and alternative pages has been implemented on the website to circumvent the many flaws and quirks inherent in each browser, quirks that would otherwise limit the site's functionality.

Screen resolution
The website displays correctly on over 99.8% of computers currently in use on the internet. Although optimized for screen resolutions of 800x600 pixels and upwards (14" monitors and up, accounting for 97% of internet users), the site has also been designed to display correctly at a lower resolution of 640x480 pixels (2.5% of users), meaning that an alternative "frameset" is loaded for low screen resolutions to minimise the appearance of scrollbars in the contextual menus.

The website uses JavaScript (up to version 1.2) for organizing and presenting its navigational components, and for various browser and screen size detection routines to enable the loading of browser-specific or monitor-specific content. Less than 0.1% of browsers currently in use cannot recognize Javascript. However, with the exception of Internet Explorer, all of the major browsers allow users to disable JavaScript, so the percentage of visitors arriving with Javascript disabled is in the order of 1-2%.
  The site uses routines to detect the presence or absence of JavaScript. If absent, the user is presented with a "static" version of the site that mimics the full functionality of the dynamic (JavaScript) version. Users arriving at the site with JavaScript disabled are given the option of following instructions on how to enable JavaScript and switch to the recommended dynamic mode. In conclusion, the website offers 100% compatibility in terms of the presence or absence of JavaScript.

Cascading Style Sheets
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to simplify the web design process, and to provide a consistent appearance across platforms and browsers. Browsers incapable of dealing with style sheets account for less than 0.1% of users. The only functional problem for users lacking CSS support is that the site's dynamic pull/down menu will not work. However, the menu itself incorporates a detection routine that will replace itself with a static menu if CSS support is absent or disabled, and the pages are designed to display well even without style sheets.
  The CSS used on the website has been checked in nine major browsers (which, given forward compatibility with more recent browser versions, accounts for 99.5% of users), with an eye especially for Netscape 4, for which an alternative style sheet is provided.

Different browsers have many and varied quirks when it comes to printing, especially content contained in frames, as is the case with this site. Each page of the website therefore incorporates a "print" button, which - according to the browser being used - either prints the page directly and correctly; displays a window containing practical advice on what settings to use; launches an "on error" safety net routine for Internet Explorer 4 to avoid crashes; or launches a page reload routine for Netscape 4 to enable correct printing.

Quick page loading
Given that my own internet connection is one of the slowest around (no more than 110Kb per minute), the site has been designed to be fast loading. The largest standard page load is 60Kb for a large image and its HTML wrapper, and 50Kb for the initial page load. Other pages average 10-20Kb each (5-10 seconds on the slowest of connections). Images are not usually included at full size on textual pages, but as reduced "thumbnails" (maximum dimension 150 pixels; average file size 3Kb), which - when clicked - load the full versions (average 30Kb plus HTML wrapper).



The project is divided into four phases, detailed descriptions of which are given in sections 4.1 to 4.4. Figure 1 details the extent of the website as it is now, and after completion of Phases I and II. Figure 2 contains a summary of the various project phases. Funding is currently sought for Phases I and II.

In brief, Phase I concerns the initial completion of the website to cover 98% of Kenya's population (with music clips representing 90% of the population); Phase II expands coverage to over 99% of Kenya's population, including all forty-two officially-recognized tribes. Phases III and IV of this project have been excluded from this request for funding, although descriptions are given below for your reference.

A fifth phase is also envisaged, actually a project in its own right that would see the establishment of an entirely self-sufficient and self-funding Kenyan NGO dedicated to recording, archiving and disseminating audio-visual material from around the country. The project philosophy is as simple as it is attractive: to provide locals with the training and equipment necessary to record and preserve their own culture, and for which self-sufficiency both in financial and technical matters shall be achieved within one year of the project's establishment through the commercialization of audio recordings.
   The project's structure and methodology would be based on a similar project currently being set up in Tanzania by myself and Belgian project manager, Rita Daneels, with the support of the Tanzanian Ministry of Culture, three Tanzanian NGOs and various international bodies (I would be happy supplying interested parties with copies of that proposal).
   In the Tanzanian version, the Project Manager and Project Advisor (myself) will be directly involved over six months in the training of two local Project Coordinators and twenty volunteers, initially representing ten northern Tanzanian tribes, in every aspect of the production, archiving and dissemination of audio-visual material, from field recordings to computerized audio mastering and the production of audio CDs. It is planned that profits from the sale of CDs will entirely fund the project within a year of its establishment. The project's self-contained structure means that it could (and should) be expanded to cover the entire country within few years.

(1) 98% coverage in terms of texts and images; 90% for music clips.

(1) For a detailed breakdown of costs, see section 6: Finance.
(2) I have been verbally granted permission to reproduce materials in the collections and archives of the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi. Permission to use materials from the archives of the Kenyan Permanent Presidential Commission for Music, and from the Kenya National Archives, both in Nairobi, will also be sought. This phase will also involve the digitization of work by photographer Cynthia Salvadori.
(3) The duration of 7 months is split into 4 months for the collation and partial digitization of material in Nairobi, and 3 months for the remaining digitization and inclusion of materials on the website.
(4) Up to 10 tribes; copyright and royalties from the commercialization of audio CDs will belong to performers and/or their communities; see section 7: Copyright.
(5) Finance for Phases III and IV is not presently sought.


Phase I: Initial completion

I currently possess recordings of music from thirty of Kenya's forty-two officially-recognized tribes, comprising 90% of the national population. I also possess all other primary materials needed to bring the website to initial completion (Phase I), this being a substantial library of written works (books, journals, offprints, reports), photographs, recordings, and required computer software and hardware.

Given the extent of the work required (an additional 1000 pages requiring research and writing or digitization and compilation, plus the digitization and remastering of seventy tapes), nine months is proposed for this phase.

Completion of Phase I, scheduled for March 2004, will see the website more than triple in size to around 1500 pages of text, 700 images and 25 hours of sound clips.

Funding required for this phase ($4500) covers my living costs and internet bills only; I am not seeking additional payment.


Phase II: Location, collation and digitization of material in Kenya; inclusion of new material in website

Phase II involves a four month stay in Kenya and three months working from home, and entails the collection of primary materials to permit the expansion of the website to cover virtually every tribal group in Kenya.

My time in Kenya will mostly be in Nairobi, as I received verbal permission in October 2001 from the National Museums of Kenya to access and reproduce, for the express purpose of inclusion on the website, any relevant textual or audiovisual material, including documentary films, from the museum's collections and archives - a resource of inestimable riches and importance.

At the same time, approaches will be made to the Director of the Permanent Presidential Commission for Music, the musicologist Dr Paul Kavyu, to gain access and use of the commission's archives (the extent and accessibility of which I remain ignorant of). Two meetings with him in 1999 were promising, although at the time the website was nothing more than a bright idea... Efforts will also be made to contact Professor George Senoga-Zake, Kenya's leading expert on traditional music, who formerly taught at Nairobi's Kenyatta University.

Contacts will also be renewed with American-Kenyan photographer Cynthia Salvadori, who has spent the last thirty years working in Kenya, latterly with Gabbra nomads in the north. She has been kind enough to grant me permission to use any of her published work on my website, and I would very much like her to be involved in Phase III of the project (see below).

Spare time will be spent conducting informal research in the Kipengere Mountains of west-central Kenya, a fascinating region that acts as a (sometimes chaotic) dividing line between several ethnic groups, notably the Pokot in the west, the Turkana in the north, and several tribes from the Kalenjin group to the south and east. Attempts will also be made to locate any material concerning the Pepo spirit possession dances of the Taita.

Subsequently, three months will be spent at home digitizing material not digitized in Kenya, and incorporating all materials into the website. Completion of this phase, scheduled for the end of October 2004, will see the site statistics increase considerably, from 1500 pages to close to 2000 pages, 1500 images, 35 hours of sound clips and an undetermined number of video clips.


Phase III: Field research and recordings

Phase III, for which funding is not yet sought (the information here is intended for reference only), centres around field work conducted by a small team in Kenya, to record the traditional music, oral fables, lullabies, legends, riddles, proverbs and concerns of up to ten tribes. Recordings, produced using professional condenser microphones and portable minidisc recorders, will be of CD quality. The project aims to commercialize the resulting recordings internationally, with the royalties and copyright belonging entirely to the performers and their communities.

The field work will also be used to produce broadcast-quality documentary film(s) on Kenyan tribes, cultures, music, and the project itself. During breaks in the field work, approaches will also be made to Kenyan recording companies for obtaining reproduction rights to commercially reproduce recordings from other particularly musical tribes (notably the Bajuni, Borana, Luo, Gusii, Kuria, and Mijikenda), with a view to forming the nucleus of a collection of commercial CD recordings of traditional Kenyan music.

The selection of tribes will depend on two factors: the paucity of extant material on the website, and the existence of particularly rare or endangered musical genres. Some examples: the traditions of Ogiek hunter-gatherers of the Mau Forest in central Kenya (who are under the obscene threat of eviction from the Kenyan Government under the sardonic pretext of environmental protection); related Ndorobo groups (formerly hunter-gatherers, often loosely allied with Maasai), the Gabbra, Rendille and Turkana nomads in the north (under pressure from increasingly frequent and severe droughts and famines, and the attentions of Christian missionaries); the Pokot in the west (creeping urbanization and ongoing ethnic conflict with neighbouring tribes); the Taita close to the Tanzanian border (who may yet have traces of a hypnotic musical genre called Pepo, used in spiritual possession and healing); the little-known Pokomo and Orma of the northern coastal hinterland and Tana River; and a number of numerically small and therefore endangered cultures such as that of the 500-strong El Molo of Lake Turkana, and Njemps (or Il-Chamus) fishing communities on Lake Baringo.


Phase IV: Final completion, production of audio CDs and CD-ROM

The final project stage, Phase IV, deals with the ultimate expansion of the website by the inclusion of material gathered in Phase III. Other elements are the digital mastering and production of audio CDs (the profits from the sale of which will belong entirely to the performers and/or their communities), and the production of a cross-platform multimedia CD-ROM based on the website (whose profits will be mine; about time, too - after all, the website will have been entirely my own work - please indulge me this pleasure!).
   Upon final completion, archives representative of the entire project, including the CD-ROM, audio recordings, and written material, will be gathered and distributed to various bodies in Kenya and northern Tanzania, including schools, colleges, libraries and NGOs, for public and educational use.



Phase I of the project, working from home, will take nine months, beginning July 2003, ending March 2004.

Phase II, beginning April 2004, starts with four months in Nairobi, and ends with three months working from home, bringing the Phase to completion by the end of October 2004.

No timescale has yet been set out for Phases III and IV, which depend in any case on securing funding for Phases I and II.



First off, it might be worth stating the glaringly obvious, namely that this proposal would not exist had I the necessary finance to fund the site's completion! The first nine months of work on the site (from December 1999 to August 2000), which included a steep learning curve in HTML and Javascript coding, and a huge amount of research, led to the website being more or less as it is now. The living costs for this period (all work was done at home), plus costs for an additional four months subsequently, totalling some $6000, were funded by personal savings accumulated during three years of work as a freelance researcher for guidebook publishers, Rough Guides Ltd (who, as you might surmise, don't pay too handsomely!)

A combination of exhausted savings and an unmissable commission to write new guidebooks to Tanzania and Zanzibar, which began in September 2000 and took 25 months to finish, put paid to work on the website until now. Work on the guidebooks ended in October 2002, approximately five months behind schedule (though, in absolution, the Rough Guide to Tanzania weighed in at 800 pages rather than the 420 originally proposed!). The extended editing period, and twelve months of travel in Tanzania rather than seven as originally proposed, also meant that the advance payment failed even to cover my living and travelling expenses. Moreover, as I am the author of these two guidebooks, the financial responsibility for updating subsequent editions is also mine, meaning that it will only be around 2008 that the various advances are completely paid off by royalties.

I've calculated $500 a month for work at home, and $800/month for time spent in Kenya, which would include accommodation, food and drink, travel, and books and other materials for the website purchased there. Therefore, the total sum required for completing Phases I and II is $10,000 (12 months at home, four months in Nairobi, flight from Europe and connecting flight from Portugal).

Please note that the non-commercial nature of the website, aesthetic considerations, and the terms of copyright permissions obtained for the use of photographs and texts from third-parties, preclude the possibility of commercial advertising on the website.



The website makes extensive use of third-party materials: texts, images and music recordings. The site respects intellectual property and moral copyright, and copyright permission to use third-party materials has been sought wherever possible. All third-party material is fully credited, together with contact details where known.



Excepting copyrighted third-party materials, the website is the copyright of Jens Finke. The copyright covers all non-third-party texts, HTML coding, design and concept. The following is an extract from the copyright notice posted on the website concerning conditions for usage.

Conditions for personal or educational use

1. Personal use
You may freely download and copy any of my own material for your personal use. 'Personal use' means strictly non-commercial, non-profit use (ie. there's no money involved at all). It does not mean you're able to include the material on websites, home pages, CD-ROM, DVD or any other publicly-accessible media - for this, see point 3 below.

2. Academic and NGO usage
Teachers, students, researchers, NGOs, schools and other non-commercial educational organizations may also freely copy and distribute these materials, on condition that the materials or the products in which they are incorporated are distributed free of charge, and that all materials used are individually credited as: Copyright © Jens Finke, Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya, www.bluegecko.org. I would also appreciate being notified for what purposes the material is being used, and a copy of the work if applicable. For such use in electronic form, see point 3. below.

3. Electronic media
Non-commercial use of materials on the internet or in any other networked or electronic form (including audio CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs etc) requires explicit written permission from myself. Requests will generally only be refused if I consider the use to be derogatory, or if conditions 1. and 2. above are not met. Requests for permission should be made by email or by letter.

Conditions for commercial use or any other use

Commercial use of any kind and of any part of this website is strictly prohibited without prior written consent from myself. Permission for any other type of use must also be obtained. Payment may be requested. "Commercial use" includes use of these materials in any form whether electronic, digital, printed or audio, and covers both their use in products and in advertising. Violations will be prosecuted under US copyright law.



With the exception of cases where both photographer and publisher are untraceable, explicit permission to reproduce third-party photographs on this website has always been obtained; equally, refusal to grant such permission is respected. An archive of email correspondence to this effect is available to those interested.



Copyright permission has not been sought for reproducing extracts from books. Instead, usage has been limited to the provisions outlined by the Fair Use Statute of the 1976 United States Copyright Law, which is the law most frequently applied to internet sites. This allows limited use of copyrighted materials without explicit permission subject to four factors:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.


Sound clips

Copyright over sound clips digitized from the collection of 130 tapes bought, recorded or dubbed in Kenya between 1998-1999 is potentially more vague, as for most of them, the exact performers, or even the villages or communities concerned, is unknown. The lack of traceable copyright owners, however, does not preclude moral copyright. I have elaborated a policy of copyright held in trust, which limits off-site use to a non-profit nature.


Audio CDs

Phases III and IV of the project envisage a sequence of fresh recordings and subsequent production of commercial audio CDs to be distributed for sale internationally. The copyright over these recordings will be held by the performers and/or their communities, and all royalties accruing from sale of such audio CDs will devolve to them.



Phase IV of the project envisages the production of a multimedia CD-ROM based on the website. The copyright for this work, as with the website, is my own, although copyright permissions already obtained for the use of third-party materials on the website (almost entirely photographs) will have to be renegotiated and paid for.



The following is a representative selection of emails and guest book entries received over the last two years. Email addresses have been omitted to preserve the privacy of correspondents.

email received from Wahome Muchiri on 20 Mar 2002
Jens, from a quick scan of bluegecko.org, I am impressed by both the richness of the information there, and the perspectives you offer especially on the evolution into modern day Kenya. I am Kenyan, for what that's worth, schooled in the mission centers of Kaimosi in Vihiga district (Luhya-land) and Kikuyu in Kiambu district, and have since moved on to New Mexico, upstate New York, London, and now paying my taxes from a small apartment in Silicon Valley in California. Being somewhat of a victim myself, I am especially saddened by the fast decay of tradition - be it in language, music, dance, and above all, the spirituality that bound society together and imparted individuals with a sense of worth and hope even at the worst of times. I mean, how else could you explain the AIDS epidemic, if indeed, as some would like us to believe, the plague originated from the African rainforest, yet only in the last 20 years has it spiralled out of control. True or not, this and other phenomena have lay low like dormant volcanoes, and have only become active in the wake of the top-down cosmetic spirituality and social bindings aka Christianity, et al. I weep for humanity's loss, and my own, when I look back to what was/is potentially a rich source of earthly wealth, that is eroding fast under a clueless political governance of the modern-day society, and the continued senseless spiritual terrorism by the religious fundamentalists that masquerade themselves as "missionaries", "evangelists" and the like. What's the "mission", I wonder? To rob the earth of it's diversity, vibrance, soul, immense wealth of understanding of natural and spiritual preventatives and cures, to strangle the spirits?
   I have bookmarked your site, and wish you well in your continued explorations, far apart from the explorations of the Krapfs, Stanleys and Livingstones. Sometimes I unsophisticatedly wish we could turn the clock back 100 years, just 100, and begin building the last century afresh, with all our knowledge base of today. The world would be closer to the heaven that people dream of, don't you think?

email received from Wangui Wanjohi on 17 Jan 2002
habari yako? My names are Wangui Wanjohi and am doing my first degree at the USIU-Africa in Nairobi. I am a kenyan who was impressed by your work. site well done, i mean this from the deepest of my heart. you have made me proud of being an African. i would wish to contribute to your site with different african tales, i can contribute with songs i will record from my culture, i can send riddles, folk tales...i simply want the generation behind me to be proud of being Africans. to dress like Africans, to eat african food, to sing African songs....name it.

guestbook signed by Maresa on 19/11/02
Respect! This is one of the best websites I visited about Kenyan tribes. You gave me a lot of ideas, asante sana!

guestbook signed by Onsongo Matura on 15 Nov 2002
This is a site worth its salt. I would wish to recommend anyone and more particularly students, who are doing their research work on the Abantu people. As a student currently making a documentary on the 'History of Mwanyagetinge' I believe the site will assist me quite a lot.

guestbook signed by Murithi Nyaga on 22 Oct 2002
I was thrilled to read about my people (Chuka) in so much details. Ahsante sana.

guestbook signed by Antoine Wood on 2 Oct 2002
Wow, this is a great site, I can hardly imagine the dedication all this must take. But I guess that's just lucky for me, because without this site I'd be about to fail my anthropology report because I had no info. Now I'll only fail because I'm just not very good at reports... ;) thanks!!

guestbook signed by Chrissy on 11 Sep 2002
Thank you for taking so much time creating a site about Kenya. My boyfriend was born and raised there and after visiting this site it has helped me learn more about his culture and the way he was raised. Thank You

guestbook signed by Caroline Nordmark on 24 Aug 2002
What a lovely, well-designed, easily readable and informative site! I teach in a school in Sweden where the whole school (6-15 year olds) has Kibera as its theme for the next 3 weeks. But of course, Kibera is part of Kenya and your site has provided so much background to Kenya's history and people that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. And no flashing advertisements either!! Thank you! Caroline Nordmark, Södertälje, Sweden

guestbook signed by Alice on 22 Jul 2002
This is a great site! I am a kikuyu married to a white American who has an interest in knowing more about the kikuyu and am so happy because I will tell him to read this as it is very informative of my lovely Kikuyu origin. My sons will learn a lot too. Thankyou a lot. You are great!

guestbook signed by Innocent and Valeria Motaroki on 20 Jul 2002
Congratulations on a job well done. My husband is Gusii, and I found the site interesting and helpful. I also have new tales to tell to our daughter. Keep up the good work!

guestbook signed by Wangui Maina on 16 Jul 2002
Greattt!! siteee i will definately be recommending anyone looking into the rich culture and diversity to have a look. Being from mixed parents myself, i.e not from the same country and hence of different tribes, i take no offence on being asked what tribe i am from because its what identifies me and im proud of it. Carry on the good work Jen i wish i had an organisation to help fund you, but uve started a great thing and it wont be at lost! keep the Faith!

guestbook signed by Krista on 17 Jun 2002
Great site!!! I'm glad someone takes an interest in this kind of stuff. Don't stop. I'm looking forward to seeing more.

guestbook signed by Purple on 30 Apr 2002
wow... this is a really great site... the best i have been to so faar... i am doing a project now on the masaai tribe in africa and this site certainly helped a lot in providing info... =) thanks.

email received from LCpl Bernard Ocharo on 6 Jul 2001
How are you are doing, my name is Bernard Ocharo, and I am so touched and impressed by the article you wrote about the Kisii, or Gusii people I would like to provide you with as much information as you may need to add on to the site, so please let me know if you are interested thanks.

email received from Jeanette Jegger on 20 Sep 2002
Dear Jens, All I can say is well done on a great and most informative website! I've been looking for one like it for months I wish there existed sites like yours for each country in Africa maybe this is your life mission?? (If you ever got funding for it, let me know, I would be the first in line to work for the project!!).

email received from Seroney Kipnyango on 23 Dec 2002
Dear Jens, I have come across your website by chance when searching for Kalenjin Terik material from the web.You so great and I tell you again that. Iam Kenyan from Terik speaking Kalenjin studying at the Warwick University. Iam willing to send you the data of Terik speakers. I represent the minority Terik Kalenjin group. Let me hear from you if this gets to you soonest. People like us can demonstrate well to others the importance of what you are doing.

email received from Fatuma Clark on 16 Dec 2002
Hi Jens, Thank you very much for taking time out to reply to my e-mail. I can just about imagine how busy you must be. Thank you very much once again. It just goes to show how much commitment and dedication you have for this project. Welldone!!! You are amazing..It's good to know that there is someone like you who gets joy out of educating people about diverse african cultures. I just can't congratulate you enough, on how fascinated and taken back with your dedication to African Cultures. What astonished me the most is that you do all this alone. which itself is quite remarkable. Because there aren't many people in this capitalist society we live in, would commit themselves to a non-profitable trust. Which is something that I very much admire. I have the greatest respect and appreciation for you. You are one phenomenal guy!!!!!! And also I was amazed that you create all this work alone. It is very impressive and commendable. I am so overwhelmed to hear that you also appreciate borana music.I very much agree with you that borana music has some elements of jazzy/bluezy and folk sound to it [...] Once again welldone for creating such a fascinating reading on Kenyan culture. Keep up the good work.



So, any takers? My contacts are as follows; email is best, as I'll be in France until May or June this year working off my debts.

Jens Finke
Apartado 542
8700-912 Olhão