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Jazz Is Not American Invention But Has Roots In Africa

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Of all the genres of music, jazz is one of the most fluid—and one of the most unique. Anyone who has listened to greats like Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, or Dizzy Gillespie knows what it’s like to hear scatting, flourishes, and unprompted solos; a mastery of jazz that seems almost effortless.

In order to realize the impact jazz music has had on many other genres, it’s important to look at where it came from. Although some people assume it’s a purely American invention, in truth, the roots of jazz music lie in African and European music traditions.

According to an article from Jazz in America, jazz can attribute its “rhythm and feel” and bluesy quality to traditional African music; as well as the ability to use an instrument as an extension of your own voice. The more rigid pieces of the jazz language—such as the harmony, chords, and instruments—come from a European influence. Of course, jazz also has strong roots in the African-American tradition; particularly with folk songs sung by slaves in the Southern United States.

It’s believed that once these musical traditions collided in the early 20th century—in New Orleans, Louisiana—what we know today as “jazz music” was born. It’s a fitting birthplace for a style featuring a loose, free-flowing combination of musical pieces. The raucous atmosphere of the port city allowed for musicians of all sorts to get together and learn from each other.

Today, jazz music is played around the world, and various regions have developed their own spinoff styles—including bossa nova in Brazil, cape jazz in Cape Town, and even Asian-American jazz, played with traditional folk instruments like the shamisen and taiko drums.

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Culture

Poetry Projects Resilience of The Human Spirit

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The World Poetry Day on Sunday March 21, may have faded as a normal day but poets and similar art enthusiasts reflected on it.

With travel restricted and large public gatherings like literary readings and fairs canceled due to the pandemic, we can dust off and crack open those volumes of Shakespeare on our shelves or comb through the 24/7 net for poetry events.

Poetry’s power in the contemporary world was not lost on UNESCO, when at a General Conference in Paris in 1999 it first adopted March 21 as World Poetry Day.

“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings,” the UNESCO.

Celebrating the World Poetry day last year, Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General observed, “Arranged in words, colored with images, struck with the right meter, poetry has a power that has no match. This is the power to shake us from everyday life and the power to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us and of the resilience of the human spirit.”  

Meanwhile, the  Poetry International (PI) Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the major poetry festivals in Europe, has for over 50 years attracted poetry greats.

This year’s PI  festival is slated for June and will be a mixture of live-streamed readings, interviews with poets and translators, and perhaps small, outdoor events.

PI director Inez Boogaarts said the pandemic makes planning for any festival difficult. “In the past, many visitors have come to the festival not only to hear poetry, but for the ambiance and to meet other people: that is normally half the fun of going to a festival. That is a completely different experience than participating on the computer.” 

“Young people now have grown up with the internet, smartphones and especially, social media. For them, the internet a place for meeting other poets and poetry lovers around the world,” she noted.

“Poetry online has exploded in the past five years, even before the pandemic – from poetry blogs to online platforms to social media,” Boogaarts pointed out.

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Kenya’s Samburu Tribe Sign MoU To End Female Genital Mutilation

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The Samburu tribe in Kenya could be on their way to liberate themselves from one of worlds remaining primitive practices.

On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Samburu Elders to commit to the end of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the community.

The Kenyan Head of State was also installed as a Samburu elder. He challenged communities practicing FGM to discard the retrogressive cultural practice by finding alternative rites of passage.

“I know it is possible for our girls to go through alternative rites of passage without suffering,” President Kenyatta said.

The President advised the Samburu community to give their boys and girls an equal opportunity to attend school.

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of Maasai and Samburu women in Kenya who have experienced female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is reported to be around 78% and 86%, respectively.

For these communities, female genital cutting is believed to primarily signify a transition into womanhood.

FGM/C is defined as ‘… all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.’

The practice of female genital cutting is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights.

In 2011, the Kenyan government passed the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (Kenya Law Reports: Act No. 32 of 2011, 2012). As expected, this Act, in a similar manner to earlier legislation, did not bring an end to the practice.

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Kenya’s Gideon Moi Installed As Kalenjin Tribal Elder

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Kenya African National Union (KANU) political party Chairman, who is also the Senator for Baringo, Gideon Moi, was installed as a Kalenjin elder on Friday, three weeks after youths allied to Deputy President William Ruto blocked the event in Kapsisiywa, Nandi County.

The Friday dawn ceremony that lasted three hours was conducted by Kapsisiywo Talai elders.

“The elders handed him the community’s instruments of power and gave him mandate to look for the country’s leadership,” an official with knowlegde of the ceremony told a local radio station.

On January 2, supporters of the Deputy President blocked Moi’s convoy as he headed to Kapsisiywa for installation as an elder in renewed rivalry, pitting the two leaders as they position themselves for the presidency in 2022.

Senator Moi was accompanied by other leaders loyal to him when they encountered barricades erected by youths from Talai and Kapsisiywa.

He was headed to the home of Councillor Christopher arap Koyoki.

Attempts by the Senator to plead with the youths to listen to him from the sunroof of his vehicle fell on deaf ears as they shouted him down, with some heard saying “Ruto, Ruto.”

He then retreated to his vehicle and turned back.

Senator Moi was later seen sharing a meal with a group of youths and elders at Kabiyet trading centre, a few kilometers from Talai before he left.

There was a heavy security deployment in the area following the early morning stand-off.
Reports indicate that the youths were protesting Senator Moi’s plan to be installed as an elder, a position they said is held by Ruto.

Senator Moi’s plan to be installed as a Kalenjin elder are part of his preparations to take control of Rift Valley as he positions himself to vie for the presidency in 2022.

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