24" x 18", oil on canvas, 2011
Here’s an anecdote that explains why I am such a fool:
Just the other day after a half an hour browsing through some stacks at a local record store my eyes caught a 10” record of some African music. It looked old (50’s, early 60’s maybe) and I am a sucker for old world music recordings, so I picked it up. It said Music of Africa Series No. 2 Kenya. Nothing wrong with that, when I look further my heart starts to beat a little faster: Collected and Introduced by Hugh Tracey.
Of course I aim the needle of my turntable on Chemirocha, and I.m surprised to hear Hugh Tracey introduce the song himself:
“It was only a few years ago that the Kipsigis heard their first gramophone. There were no records in their own language of course, but the one that took their fancy was this one guitar solo by a well know cowboy singer named Jimmy Rodgers, What a magnificent chipkong player, said a girl. The man of the district said that maybe he’s a new dancer touring the countryside, but the girl said that this is no ordinary man; this is a faun, half man, and half antelope. They pronounced his name as Chemirocha. So they sang this song of welcome for 'Chemirocha,' inviting him to come and dance with them. Who could refuse such an invitation?”