ARTIST OF THE MONTH
For the month of July, Africa Matters interviewed Brian O. Kepher - a 22 year old musician from Kenya.
Q: Please tell us about yourself, name, where are you from, are you a student? Where? Your Age? And anything else you would like people to know about you.
A: My name is Brian O. Kepher of Kenyan citizenship and 22 years of age. I am a student at Kenyatta University, studying music as my major. I am blessed to have both parents and live as a happy family. I started my Pre-primary education at Penikeva primary school in 1998 in Mathare slums area, and went through different primary schools school before joining my high school; Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School in Korogocho slums.
Q: What inspired your interest in classical music? What is your muse?
A: The of classical music was influenced by the closeness of the Kenya Defence force band as they rehearsed the National Anthem of The Republic of Kenya for the 2010 Mashujaa day national celebration. This was my first ever public live performance that I heard my Anthem being performed, my heart was thrilled by the drum rolls that saw my blood seem freezing but my soul felt at peace when the magical opening of the majestic trumpet and tenor trombone opened up the tune and the fine harmonies mixing through the air, this transformed my soul and said to myself I will live to be a Kenyan, I really can’t explain what I was exactly feeling at that particular moment but it was a turning stone of patriotism into my life and falling in love with music in my life time.
Q: What do you want people to take from your work?
A: I want the young children both male and female to see how my life has been transformed through the passion I have been following and not giving up despite the challenges I have gone through in the slums and even being mocked by others that I can’t make it in life. But more importantly, let love our continent; no matter how much aid we get from donor but only Africans will save Africa from its realm of poverty, political confusion and injustices. Its only WE African understand our pain so let’s not lose hope.
Q: Would you say your art expresses a positive African narrative? How?
A: For me, Yes. Everywhere I go be it the Federal Republic of Germany, the Swiss Confederation and The USA, they ask me about African music and they all are eager to hear my own classical composition from the African tunes which am now working on my finale of my second symphony. To me I see the culture of Africa that actually is our true making as Africans and that’s why back at home, I have half the concerts all contemporary music done by the great maestros of the African tunes.
Q: How proud are you to be an African? What do you love about your culture?
A: Don’t ask me of the percentage because I would give up my life for this great continent of ours. We have to remember what history tells us about the great architectures of this continent, Papa Madaba fought and was jailed for 27 years as he asked for freedom for the black nation, don’t forget Patrice Lumumba witnessed the first assassination due to his bravery to fight for the rights of his nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was also jailed because of his black nation. To me these stories makes me feel humbled and want to kneel down on my knee as Africa is now free and we are now moving forward to a great continent. We are independent because thousands of souls both young and old were sacrificed in the struggle of our home land. BLACK IS BEAUTY
Q: What advice would you give fellow musicians and young people who are afraid but passionate to show their work?
A: Passion and focus, working with Ghetto Classics first of all as an alumnae has taught me lots of lessons. I takes time to get to the top and a lot energy to perfect your art so never be in a hurry to get to the top but be in hurry to be the best you can be. To me I have this saying that moves me always; “Opportunity only comes ones and to those who are prepared, they hit it hard.” It doesn’t matter what people or the world say about your dreams as dreaming is free but working towards the drum is a cost.
Q: How has the work you do with the youth, impact your community and what are your future plans for the youth program?
A: My community is now appreciating arts and making music in the hearts of Kenyan slums is creating a stepping stone to the bright future of a country, when we were selected to perform to His Holiness Pope Francis on his Papal State visit to Africa, Kenya; it was a great opportunity that the Government offered to the youths and this has been an eye opener to all the artist that whatever you dream of shall one day come to pass. My future plans which I actually started is a campaign on the gender balance as the world is now forgetting the boy child and also not forgetting the sensitization to the girl child to on the effects of early marriage and pregnancy while in school. I want no child to pass through hectic life as I did but I can help and that’s why I walked through the Slums of Korogocho starting with my former high school Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School in January 25 2017 and worked with Femme International in Mathare slums to talk to the girl child. I am actually seeing Africa ruling the world’s economy but until we realize the power we have as together as all a people of the same continent.
Q: Do you have anything you'd like us to share that has not been asked?
A: I want to thank my mother for the effort as an African woman who saw me through the secondary education and she is still seeing my other 8 siblings to their academy.