It’s been a while and a lot is happening! A second Sauti Academy talent group has started the program, the first group of students are now composing their own songs and are still going strong.
In the spirit of giving back Insect and I have started teaching in Nairobi West prison some months ago. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, I absolutely love going to prison twice a week. We work with 20 inmates and write songs with them, let them perform in front of the other inmates and prepare them for performances at functions.
At the prison we met a lovely girl called Vicky, who started an organization called Nafisika Trust. “Nafisika” is a Swahili word meaning “get out of poverty, become well off, or be relieved.” Nafisika Trust is an organization formed with a vision of contributing to the reduction of recidivism rates among inmates by providing programs that help in behavior change and economic empowerment. Vicky is absolutely passionate about her work and wrote some lovely words about our project that I’d like to share here:
“I went to meet up with the Music trainers Natalie and Insect from Sauti Academy. They have taken time out to train inmates in song writing, spoken word and vocals for a couple of months now. I must say they are doing a brilliant job. Trust me I know how hard it is to teach music, I trained a couple of inmates in guitar last year and it was hard work but very rewarding once they get it. So thumbs up for Natalie and Insect for the beautiful job they have done!
I had seen Natalie around for a while but we never really got talking, also because we are not usually at the prison at the same time. Today we got to know each other a little more. She is from Holland and is now recently married in Kenya. Cool! She runs Sauti Academy under Penya Records. She trains music and Insect is one of her trainees. Again as I said, they are brilliant so I suggest that you pay them a visit if you would like some music training.
What I love about them is their concern for the inmates. You can right out tell it’s genuine. You know we’ve seen many guys come to the prison in the name of helping out but what they actually do is help themselves. They come one day and bring the press along with them for their own publicity stunt and never come back. Not good people at all.
Anyway, today I got treated to a couple of performances by the inmates. First up was a short skit about literacy education. Then was a poem by one of my students. I was amused because it was a poem I had actually taught in class a while back. I was quite glad that he could recite it from memory. Then came on this brilliant guy, I mean he is amazing. He did a poem in Swahili; it was quite, quite good and later was joined by the rest to do a song. OMG I totally enjoyed it. These guys have potential it’s not a joke.
It’s incredible what music does to people, you see them in a different light. The atmosphere was full of joy, they were smiling and dancing. This is when one begins to see the man behind the “Kunguru” (prison clothes) which makes them all look the same. You begin to see the different characters emerge; some who hardly smile begin to crack through their walls. It’s as if music open’s ones heart and you become mortal, finally some emotions and just for a short while they feel free!
Natalie and Insect have amazing talent and are quite easy to get along with. You can easily see their love for these guys.”
For more info about Nafisika Trust: http://nafisikatrust.blogspot.com