“In December 2020, my family and I were able to visit my Cũcũ (Grandmother) in her home in Githũnguri, Kenya. We walked around the farm — just as we always do when we visit — but this time, I found myself paying more attention: to the ground, to our languages of Kiswahili and Kikuyu; to the trees and fruit. It felt like the things around us were silently teaching me.”
Nyokabi Kariũki (b. 1998) is a Kenyan composer based between Kenya and the US. Her sound is ever-evolving, ranging from classical contemporary/experimental music to film, sound art, and (East) African musical traditions. She performs as a pianist, vocalist, and on instruments from the African continent – particularly the mbira and djembe. Nyokabi’s works have been seen at events around the globe, including the Hearsay International Audio Festival, where ‘A Walk Through My Cũcũ’s Farm’ received the 2021 Hearsay ‘Art’ Award; and her concert music has been regularly sought after, with commissions from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Men’s Ensemble, to performances by Chromic, Third Coast Percussion, and more. Nyokabi continues to explore music and its impact in different ways, ultimately driven by a yearning to explore sound as a tool to not only re-discover the stories of her culture, but also to highlight its significance, and contribute to the preservation of African stories.
Listen to Nyokabi Kariũki’s music – and an extended version of this piece – on her Bandcamp and learn more about her work on her website.