By Catherine Kimotho
Published December 2, 2012
Alice Kamande, a Kenyan girl who started singing at the age of 7 has just released a music video album containing six songs that she released as ‘singles’ since 2009. Self-titled, the album is in Kiswahili, English and Kikuyu and is mainly performed to the ‘Kapuka’ African drum rhythm and electronic sound, a combination of sounds and language that offers a unique perspective of modern Africa’s brand of gospel music.
Kamande, a dancer, choreographer and jewellery and fashion designer creates a combination of Western, Eastern and African styles of dance. In the song “Omba” (Pray), dancers groove to the rhythm of drums, incorporating hip hop, South African Zulu and classical Indian styles of dancing. While the song encourages people to pray during times of trouble, depression and pain, this video is full of colour, emphasising the need for one to enjoy life despite the struggle.
In “Upendo Ule Ule” (Constant Love), the bright lights of a modern city setting adds to the excitement, as dancers move to a fusion of hip hop and Kapuka while singing people come and go but Your love is here to stay, a statement that illustrates the constant nature of God’s love.
In the Praise and Worship songs,Wewe Pekee (You Alone) and Nimfahamu Yesu (More about Jesus), the rhythm changes to a soft, slow and lush melody of instrumentals as the singer speaks of how God’s love changed her life. The songs are her way of not only giving thanks, but recognising that God is her only refuge.
Even though this video album attracts the audience gospel music lovers, her song “Uwe Tayari” (Be Ready) illustrates how easy it is for anyone to fall into the trap of sin; the song urges listeners to focus on God rather than instant gratification of the here and now that is associated with the today’s ‘me-first’ generation of instant gratification.
Kamande says her love for singing began at the age of 7 and that when she began writing her own songs when she turned 14 while at Nyeri Baptist High School. However, her career did not kick off until 2009 when she resigned from her bank job and released her first single, “Wewe Pekee”.
She says she opted to venture into what she considers to be her ministry in the hope that her songs would inspire humanity as she ‘sings her heart out to her maker’.
A Kiswahili speaker cannot help noticing that Kamande’s pronunciation of Kiswahili words and sentences have an English accent.
As a compilation of music videos produced at different times, the album lacks the element of continuity. This technical aspect may be a result of the different directors who worked on these videos of single songs that were later strung together as a single album. However Kamande’s message and devotion to God could be the string that links one video to the next.