MiomboDrUmBeAT- GrandMaster Masese is a unique , committed and high rising personality in the  African if not global creative enterprise. Masese boast of  highly rhythmic  and flowing poetry verses  which resonates with  his   dexterity  of merging languages that originated from different roots.The poet  is a skilled storyteller of a multilingual  excellence. Grandmaster plays  a harp  and  a flute – he is a traditional African poet , an  ethno- musicologist , an African  storyteller of  variable languages. His voice  is diverse and is a force to  lean  on. In this journal the Creative/Cultural /Artistic scientist bless us with  high powered journal of three multilingual poems and an essay that reflects the  origins and the anthropological essence of Zanzibar and languages or tongues within. Thumbs up GrandMaster Masese. Kindly contact the publisher at miombopublishing@gmail.com ,We kindly invite you to follow our blog , send likes as well as views and comments on the site and on other social media platforms.

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BABE-SKI

Your touch my babe-ski
Reminds of the Vodoski
That I sip-ski every dusk
Join me in my booze-ki
Feel my love-o, gentle as juice-o
Take my hand-o, in you heart-o Let’s tie the knot-o,
walk me on the aisle
Then I buy you the Poncho
When in the house-o
Call aloud Dennis-ki
Then I shall call you you Chels-ki
My love for you is great-o
I shall take you to state-o
Like my bottle of Vodoski
You’re miss universe-o
And I am your mister rights-ki
I let every damsel-o
To know you’re my cello
And if you cause chaos-ki I will say to them, shizel-o
Stop being the rebel, I am your babes-ki

(C) Dee Dee M,Ma

 

MY SWEET BABY, MY WIFE

I was eleven perhaps ten when I met her
When I was introduced to her
She whose voice was rhythmic
In the mountains of Gusiiland
When she spoke, she drew people from far and wide
They came running and walking
Standing and sitting down, listening
To her soothing rhythmic voice
Her words were music
Her words were stories, they were songs
They danced to her cry
They danced in her happiness
They watched her,
Everybody loved her, everybody wanted to court her
She made them kneel down,
They were united in their collective epiphanies
That defined their destinies
She consoled, she taught
She narrated and she preserved

I loved her too
I was smitten and I wanted her
I wanted her to be my companion
She, who I could cherish all my life
I wanted her to be with me
Even in the turbulent of times
To be me and me to be her
I wanted to sing my story
The story of my life
I wanted her to console me and protect me
Tender to me as a mother does to the baby
I fall in love with her
She reminded me of times immemorial
And made me dream of great times to come
I was young, yes
But this was as real as the blue sky
Clear of clouds

Then one day, before all the people
Before every eye that was present
As my witnesses
As the trees were swaying to her rhythms
That evening I went to her as she sang
And I begged for her hand of affection
Because she had stolen my heart
And I wanted to steal hers
I wooed her with my gentle pleas
She didn’t accept and she didn’t refuse either
We began seeing each other
It was difficult for two years
Trying and trying
She was older than me
But smitten by my juvenile love

For ten years I never saw her again
I was forced into exile for reasons, unknown
But my heart was hers
The rhythms of her voice never left me
They stayed caged in my heart
I guess it was same story, even with her
Then one day, I met her again
I was twenty, and we married there and then
I went home with her, happy and healed
Of the fatigue of my long loneliness
We connected and her rhythmic chords
Fused evenly with my vocal chords
We became an ensemble of melodies
A sound so musical, a sound so poetical
That is how I married my wife-OBOKANO
She who I met at ten and married at twenty
We were then declared a musical couple
Grand Masese and Obokano
We are blessed with many children.

 

EKEGUSII VERSE(Kisii)

Ninche Masese
Mbono nkare gocha korwa Bundo
Rigereria buna nyeagete ebundo
Nkogenda esegi n’enyundo
Nabogoirie ritimo n’etindo
Nachire buna omorwani
Namatimo y’abarwani
Nemesetwa y’abarwani
Tegerera buna nkobugia amakano
Chingoma na ebitureri
Tinkomiamia na riba ritaturi
Ritononkerete kobua eroti na ebitureri
Namonsegesa ritimo ekerege igoro
Buna chigi chigi
Nabo nkoirwana buna obonyoru ekegoro igoro
Nachire
Mbegete chianga buna amache riyenga
Bono bono kongera aare
Roar buna ngosata chinguba
Nchibeke nse chitube amaraba
Buna riyenga ri’embura
Esirikali y’omonto oyomo
Omwana entabo ntongetie riso
Namonseng’ensia ninsoe egetita ime
Nsoke n’enaigo
Natochaka ekinano
Nigo ngokorwokia enyangi
Bwoondoche togayanwe
Totarasamania na gokiritania
Nche naye ntogochia makari
Nche nigo ngwoka buna omorero
Okogwa korwa ase ekerende na esasi

Randa orande buna Emamnga na Esameta
Randa ko obugie ekenanda na endanda
Tagotwara ekeririanda
Nigo orabaise gotara getirianda
Bwateke buna enda
Onye n’omonto okogochanda
Kira takonya gwechanda
Rirorio rigia ekenanda
Gose soa getanda orare nda!

 

Ekegusii Verse (translated by Dennis D Mosiere)

No automatic alt text available.

It is me, Masese

Now am coming from Bundo

Look how my body smeared with ebundo* is shining

Am going to the battlefield with a hummer

I have carried with me a spear and a mallet

I have come as a warrior

With warrior spears

Belongings and the spirit of warriors

Listen to the way I play the Obokano*

Trumpets and flutes

I will not close my eyes even if it’s misty

So misty and clumsy like heavy sounds of trumpets

Even if you pierce my waist with a spear-chigi!*
I will sway and fight like grass

On a mountain against strong winds

I come

Wearing clothes like moving stream of water

Now, stand over there and watch, don’t move closer

Look! The way I am preparing shields

Put them down to cover the soil like heavy drops of rain

One man army, one man government

I am the only son like the eye

Even if you trouble me, I can hide in a basket

And come out with a dagger

If we wrestle I will defeat you, like it is a wedding

Weaken you, make you wither before they come to separate us

Before we hold hands and fight

I and you will not draw

I burn like fire glowing from ekerende* and esasi*

Grow and spread further like Emanga* and Esameta* ranges

Grow and spread so you can play pianos- Nda! Nda! Nda!*

Don’t be jealous you may walk naked

Then you burst – NDA!

If someone troubles you,

Don’t worry yourself too much

Be silent and look for a piano

Or go to your bed and sleep -NDA!

  1. Ebundo – a type of paint made from some specific soils and clay that was used as a kind of body protection from dirt or in ceremonies
  2. Obokano-an eight stringed harp from the Gusii people of western Kenya
  3. Chigi- the sound made by a spear when it pierces flesh
  4. Ekerende and esasi-these was a traditional way of making fire by using a dry wood,ekerende with a stick to rub between your hands and esasi is the dry leaves and dung that is fed to the spot of contact between the wood and the stick
  5. Emanga and Esameta are two great ranges in Gusiiland and normally people are told to spread and produce like the two ranges
  6. Nda-the sound of music/strings, largely onomatopoeic here

 

 

 Sheng – Essay by GrandMaster Masese aka  Dennis Dancan Mosiere

Kiswahili Is Sheng, from Hindu or Gujarat, Just Standard

 

 

Swahili is a complete Bantu language of the Swahili people. The Swahili are now a minority. They were born out of interactions with different Bantus from the hinterland and outside interactions with Arabs from Oman and the Shiraz among others from the east and Europe. Hence there was need to standardize the Bantu languages at the point of contact for trade and other social and political needs.

Kiswahili as a Bantu language developed from Bantu interactions especially at the coast. Kiswahili is a complete slang. It is better developed than Kenglish or Engsh, two slangs emerging from the urban rich with a mixed Asian, European, educated Kenyans and other people of different nationalities. Kenglish is mostly preferred by the college youth. Its medium is English. Example; if I kuja or pitia I will pata some chipo.( if I come or pass by I will eat some fries.) Kenglish can be singled to be expatriate, of the two. That makes the diference of all to do with slang/cant. So, Sheng, Swahili based, Engsh, English based and Kenglish, English based.

Examples

 

Si mniokolee? – can’t you help me?  SHENG

Si you okoa me ?     ‘’’’’’’’’’’’ Engsh

Si you help me…? Kenglish

Si mniokoe?   Swahili

It would be interesting to look at the history of Zanzibar, by then called Unguja. Zanzibar was a new island and later settlement for visitors mostly from the mainland and outside. It was a virgin place cloves place and all the fishermen and food enthusiasts met there. Zanzibar is the island that Kiswahili is standardized because they still have the original language(s) as spoken then by the natives. Zanzibar has got more than six kiswahili dialects, like Kimakunduchi, Kimangapwani and Kinemba or Kikwale among others. The measure for buying cloves was a traditional utensil made out of dry  coconut leaves, called Ungo.

A trader will say Ungo…A utensil like bowl to mean a filled clove vessel.

A buyer will then say Ungo Jaa…… fill it up. That is the original name for Zanzibar.

Since Swahili is a mixture of Bantu languages and Asian and European languages, thought I should share about Zanzibar commonly used in Swahili standardization. This proves the mixture of the Bantu languages and hence qualifying it as a cant based on Bantu languages. The first and earliest such cant is Cutchi Swahili. It emerged from the first Asian traders in the Swahili coast of Zanzibar. It became exitinct.

Therefore Sheng is a Swahili based cant originating in east Africa with deep roots in Kenya or Africa. It sprawled in Nairobi and other cities in Kenya.

It was different communities and modes of transport that led to the establishment of the sheng slang. Trade, railway development and social interactions among people and different communities led to the growth of Kiswahili and her sheng variant. In the later days it’s Matatus that are in the forefront in the spread and the interactions in our various neighborhoods in regard to sheng slang.

Therefore, we must revisit the construction of the railway line that connected Kenya and Uganda. Enter the endangered workers from India. Collies from India brought in by the British as indentured laborers contributing so much into Kiswahili.

I have always argued that Kiswahili is the most complete cant or slang. It is standard because it passed the test of time. It can be advanced considering other languages and new interests. The slang can grow further.

It’s in this interest that I wanted to find the south Asian contribution to Sheng. Kiswahili has had a greater contribution from Hindu or Gujarati. Music and culture has thrived here. Trade, is also represented fully.

The Kenya Uganda railway is the opener in the sheng/cant that had Asian words in the language. The first contact of coolies and the natives made a difference. This was the development of contemporary language and culture through close interactions.

Some people at home in Nyamira and Kisii are called Kasinga. The name originates from the Asian Kalasinger or Singh. I know some in other communities in Kenya too. Dogo Khan is a countryman who founded Shabana.I support Shabana.

However there are cants and slangs in Kenya which are English based. The cant originates from Parklands, Ngara, Westlands and some other suburbs with a large Indian, educated, expatriate mixed population.

 

In Zanzibar, there emerged a language or Creole called Cutchi Swahili. It originated from the Asian settlers’ language with a mix of local language dialects. It became extinct. It’s hard to find the original speakers. It could be easily the first Asian based Sheng.

 

We have south Asians in urban cultural arts and ceremonies in Bhangra and Diwali, etcetera. We have celebrated personalities like Zain Verjee, among Kenya’s prominent people of Gujarati and Asian origin that east African youth and people associate with such as Zain Verjee,the celebrated CNN journalist, Freddy Mercury, the celebrated Queens rock superstar, born in Zanzibar of Indian  heritage, Mahatma  Gandhi ,commonly known in most movements; Manu Chandaria,the industrialist, and Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee whose efforts gave us Jeevanjee and Bunge La Mwananchi got space. There are more and even more like a duka after another.

Gujarati contribution to Kiswahili

Word    Sheng Kiswahili English

Marashi marash marash ointment

Chapati chapo chapati chapati (flour bread)

Chai tiabe(from tea) chai             tea

Mia mbili rwabee rupee/rupia rupee

Harambee harambe hara ambe harambee

Duka/Duke duka duka duka

Kachumbari kachumbari kachumbari achari

Mshikaki mshikaki mshikaki mshikaki

Binsari among many cooking spices.

Kuli is still used in proper Swahili to mean a ship worker. It was previously used to mean endangered worker or slave.

There are many words that come to mind from the south Asian languages. For instance bandari, marash, bangil, shisha, manukato, kachumbari, sari, biskut, munch(manji), ubani,mandhari, bahari and a few examples up there. The police uniforms are called sare. I know that Shailja Patel had a play called I speak for saris or something.

House worship can be attributed to the religion direct from south Asian kind of prayers, now common in Christian worship circles. The streets in Nairobi give us a common unity even without our knowledge. Mention Jeevanjee gardens and I think of the informal movement called Bunge La Mwananchi and Ritongo Afrika. We can agree that we have a lot to share in unity since the beginning of the language development. The fact that we are yet to come into terms with these large and strong developments means that we must continue with the discourse to understand better, it makes a language to unite. I may emphasis that we learn the languages from each other’s communities. We may integrate further. And have a language we reciprocate with. Borrow and integrate especially in languages.

In conclusion, I therefore find less Gujarat or south Asian words in Sheng directly without first going into and tracing in the Swahili language or through Swahili. Kiswahili covers that wonderfully. The Sheng variations work for both the established slang/cant and the other emerging slangs in there Bantu or Kiswahili varieties. Yet it’s the Sheng that we speak and that carries the words in similarity to the Asian and Hindu contribution to our Bantu languages. I think that Asian contribution to the Swahili Bantu language rivals Arabic yet both languages make so little contribution to the Kiswahili.. That little difference in our Bantu languages standardization is recommendable and yet carried in the languages.

 

Asian here means languages from the Asian sub continent that have contributed to the Swahili lingua franca.

Gujarati is deliberately being mentioned with Hindi in equal measure as Hindu. Hindu and Gujarat were not considered very much. I like that they are languages. There is difficult saying Hindu or Hindi and the whole sub continent. I know that the point of contact with east Africa,  for east Africans and Asia is Goa among other places.

 

Grandmaster Masese
He assumed the name Grandmaster instead of grandfather because he was young when he started playing the Obokano, the harp lute like traditional instrument of the Gusii, traditionally played by the elders. While in high school, he used the title master because the students and teachers kept saying that he was the master in literature, drama, music, history, handball and volleyball which he excelled in. by then he wasn’t playing Obokano as much. Masese is derived from his clansmen name.
Grandmaster Masese and his Ritongo Afrika band is a contemporary traditional musician who plays the Obokano, a Kisii traditional eight stringed harp. He’s a cultural music consultant in Nairobi and in Tanzania. He’s Fahamu Pan African Fellow (FPAF) 2011, for Social justice alumni and a trainee Human Rights Educator as an alumnus of the 2nd East African Human Rights Training Program, 2012 in Mukono, Uganda. He is a cultural activist using folklore and traditional instruments to advocate for change. As a base for his activism to preserve the languages and cultures of Africa.
He has been published in local newspapers in Kenya and online globally, publishing features and poems. He recorded his first album and it was released in Arusha, Tanzania on May 25 during the African Liberation Day 2013 called Chaminene, Urban Griot’s Word.
He has been featured before in three other compilations. His music has been has been used in a short film and short documentaries as scores.

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