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Maasai sound clips

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There are more clips in each of the tribal sections, and a selection of tracks from over twenty tribes here.

Chepa - welcoming dance
Good manners dictate that special guests, or paying tourists, are welcomed with song.
1:20 low
Ole Matiake - on cattle
According to the music store owner who dubbed this track for me, the soloist Ole Matiake "is a very talented young man. When he sing, everyone sit down and listen carefully to what he saying". Ole Matiake is from Imbirikani near Olandi, along the Oloitokitok-Emali road. The track is part of an extended song.
6:18 low
Ole Matiake - on lions
This track is part of an extended song concerning lions: how to kill them, the tricks to use, and the bravery shown by warriors in doing so. Explains Njao, the owner of the music store in Oloitokitok where I copied the recording: "When you kill a lion, you are called Saitoti. Except that George Saitoti [a prominent Kenyan politician who makes a big deal out of being Maasai], ha ha, he never killed a lion, he's a Kikuyu in disguise!"
6:12 low
Ole Sulkari - on cattle
Ole Sulkari is well-known for his musical talents, and here is using them to the full by singing about cattle: how wonderful they are, how many he owns, and how well he looks after them. Sulkari is a nick-name meaning ‘sweet', which possibly refers to his voice. He's from Oldeani in Ngorongoro, Tanzania. His parents were poor, despite which he and his brothers went to school. Ole Sulkari schooled for four years before going to the Amboseli area of Kenya to work as a herdsman, where he was circumcised and initiated as a moran. The owner of the cattle took a liking to Ole Sulkari, and to his singing. Sulkari continued schooling up to Secondary Form 5, then went on to study at the University of Nairobi. Any more information would be appreciated.
14:48 low
Ol Leilei - lion hunting dance
Traditionally performed by morani before a lion hunt. The hunts were staged by warriors seeking permission from a girl's father for her hand in marriage. As is usual with morani dances, there's a competitive aspect: the warriors take turns in leaping as high as they can in front of the semi-circle of singers (or a closed circle when not performing for outsiders). Some leap once, others up to five times. This particular track features an exceptionally beautiful guttural multi-part polyphony (what I'd call melophony - as fluid as honey!).
6:56 low
Ekikori - hunting dance
Another hunting dance performed by morani warriors. Also spelled Egikori or Kigori.
3:27 low
Oleiyo - circumcision dance
Also spelled oleyo, aywaleyo or aioleyo.
2:03 low
Mparikoi - circumcision dance (1)
This song (also spelled emborekoi) accompanies a dancing competition among warriors, and was sung both for celebrations like weddings, and on the occasion of boys' circumcision ceremonies. Like most Maasai dances, it involves singers - morani warriors - taking turns to leap into the air once or twice in front of the others, before retreating into the circle of singers to allow another warrior his turn. The higher and more graceful the leap, the better the warrior. At least that's what Maasai girls think - dances offer ample opportunities for flirtation.
3:47 low
Mparikoi - circumcision dance (2)
Another version of mparikoi, performed by twelve morani at a coastal hotel. Dancing at first in a semi-circle, with the soloist as the focus, they then moved together as a snake, then in rough groups of three, closely bunched, one group facing left, the next right, the next left, the next right, with the soloist at one side.
  At the end of the show, the dancers reappeared with bundles of red cloth which were unrolled to reveal bracelets, necklaces and other trinkets for sale. The soloist reappeared in a red-and-white track suit and five bangles on each wrist to sell. All wore gold wrist-watches. One swapped his new pair of truck-tyre sandals for a pair of Reeboks from a glum-faced blonde tourist in military fatigues. Another Maasai was chatted up by a rather hideous aged woman in a short white dress, high heels (chunky legs), red lipstick blusher, peroxide hair and blue eye shadow. It was a weird scene, but by no means one in which the Maasai looked lost or exploited.
5:09 low
Girls' pre-circumcision ceremonies
Maasai girl's pre-circumcision ceremonies, near Migori, Kenya, 17 October 1992. Recorded by composer Carol Ann Weaver. Her notes: singing shows descending melodic line with M9th range, call and response.
0:12 low
Girls' pre-circumcision ceremonies (2)
As above.
0:27 low
Cheptaben - marriage dance
Performed by warriors.
3:42 low
Kinkuniyao - a dance of change
Possibly also called kuniyao or kilkuniyao, this is a dance of change, performed, for example, when warriors are promoted to elderhood. To mark the occasion, the morani have their hair shaved (a symbol of passage or rebirth, or of returning to the womb).
5:15 low
Bead-making day (women's songs)
Women's bead-making day, close to Ngang (Ngong?), 25 February 1993. This is a rare recording of Maasai women's music, and an example of singing as conversation, story-telling, and to ease work. Recorded by composer Carol Ann Weaver. Her notes: "Two-8va melodic range; melody with 2 parts: high, and low drone."
0:23 low
Bead-making song
An extract from a wonderful song performed by a woman named Kutende, who, on being paid for the recording, "laughed and laughed to think anyone would pay her real shillings for her singing!". Recorded by composer Carol Ann Weaver as part of her collection of Kenyan women's music.
2:33 low
Alparo - farewell dance
5:00 low

Alparo, Chepa, Cheptaben, Ekikori, Mparikoi (1) and Oleiyo were recorded by Jens Finke at Diani Beach, 3 December 1998.
Kinkuniyao, Mparikoi (2) and Ol Leilei were recorded by Jens Finke at Diani Beach, 7 December 1998.
Ole Matiake's songs were dubbed in Oloitokitok, 30 November 1998.
Old Sulkari's cattle song was dubbed in Oloitokitok, 30 November 1998.
Girls' pre-circumcision songs and bead-making songs were recorded by Canadian composer, Carol Ann Weaver; reproduced by kind permission.


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