Embu & Mbeere - Music and Dance

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In this page:

Song lyrics (these open in new pages; press 'Back' on your browser to return here)
Embu boys' grazing song
Embu wedding song 1 ("We were about to drown")
Embu wedding song 2 ("We have arrived indeed")
Embu children's song for teasing women
Embu lament for the loss of traditions


Children would sing nonsense songs like 'Mucunjuri, Mucunjurima...', and when it rained would dance outside singing songs like 'a drizzle has come from Kambaland' (Kanyunyuu kauma Ikamba-i). When older, they would dance to welcome new crops, harvest or mark some period.

The dancers made their own apparatus like the dancing sticks and shields called migage and mivaru for the ngiro dance, and also a musical instrument like ngotho made of a gourd cut on both ends so that the hand could be pushed through to tap the ngotho with a special stick for the kiboia dance. These two were danced by boys almost at the age of circumcision.

Embu drummers

Circumcised boys and girls had their own songs and dances, as had mature and older people. All had theirs that suited their age and at times sex. Most were very vigorous (like those of the Chuka and Kamba), and acted as physical exercise.

Among the Mbeere, dancing can be quite dramatic, accompanied by large drums held between the legs in the manner of the Chuka and Kamba. The drums and their playing style were borrowed from the Kamba, replacing the traditional "tambourines."

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Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

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