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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

New Waters!


Good Morning World! We are hardly ten nights into the year and if the 12 months were just the 12 hours of the day, it's true that some chaps would still be snoring as it is just dawning. Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we didn't have these figures that help us get swallowed into the pomp of seasonal changes? I tend to think some people would never achieve a thing since they are great friends (or slaves?) of procrastination. Well, I didn't wake up today to bore anyone with abstract statements of 'what if...what if not...,' Let us take a reflection
of 2019.

For the sake of schemers and very busy individuals, it was a great year! For lovers of stories and the curious ones like myself, well, may I indulge you in our nostalgic journey of the past 53 weeks at Dowe Music & Arts. Before any further unfolding of the stories, we take this opportunity to thank all students and parents of last year for being a great cohort. The reason we chose the title for this post is because it was a year we did many things that had never been there earlier on. Most importantly was the database development that will enable us keep records of our students not only in this season but for years to come. Every student now has an ID number that is unique basing on the year and the instrument being learnt.  Change is not normally easy, and seeing that in some places around here formal registration is not common for short courses like music, we can't thank our clients enough for complying and that means our records will be fine on-wards.

Who was the most outstanding student? In 2018, we started thinking about expanding to Nairobi. It wasn't clear how we'd do it and we decided not to read books or watch tutorials about new market entry strategies. Simply, one of us had to sacrifice half of the week, leaving Nakuru's serenity and hygiene for a fast paced, mind-your-business-no-body-cares Nairobi City in search of our niche. Long story short, that was a bold, crazy but a worthwhile decision. We have so far trained 12 students over the weekend and are already enrolling the new class for January-April term.

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This is the decision that helped us meet Lorna Mutegi (mage at the top), a Management Consultant by profession. She just saw a poster on social media and reached out. Unlike many cases where one calls and the usual "I'll get back when ready" comes by, Ms. Lorna called when ready. The lessons started the following day. We learnt about her love for Indie Music and the passion for Guitar. One month into the lessons, she got a transfer to Kakamega County! Normally, in the experience we've had, most students get so destabilized that lessons have to be put on hold for a year which in rare cases one resumes.

 For Lorna, it was just a matter of "give me this weekend to settle and we'll resume," If I am guessing right, your question is, "So you sent another staff to Kakamega?" The answer is an emphatic no. We have an online conferencing class that caters for students outside Nairobi and Nakuru. Well, for the longest time since 2015, this has been for our students in Uganda and Tanzania. Sometimes people can be skeptical about the online learning and so we rarely mention it especially to the Kenyan Market. Partly they are right, but if one was to engage us, perhaps the perception would change. We proceeded with real-time video lessons for the rest of the two months till a small break came in for the holidays. 
We are back on and Lorna is finishing Level 1 Guitar lessons in 4 weeks time. This means she can sight read, has mastered useful strumming patterns, has a grasp on Chord Families and by February, she can confidently perform in your event! What more can we say? Congratulations Lorna and we're happy our paths crossed! Your brand New Capo, Electric Tuner and a set of New Guitar strings await you at the center! She becomes the Second student to receive this award after Sonia in 2018. Will you be the next?




Right from the first Art4Leadership Concert in January, throughout the Touch a Soul event during the Valentines day just after Dowe Music Band gracing YEPI's event organized by Mr. Amani Katana in Mombasa, to the Mzalendo concert and lastly the HustleConcert that culminated into a video shoot of the song with the very title, we can only say that ours is an upward, in-depth progress that has been made possible through the unwavering faith, resilience and a desire to make Africa smile again.

It is also a year that the venture's CEO has received awards and gotten opportunities to represent us in Italy and Ghana respectively. Dowe Music has been called upon to perform in Nationally recognized events due to the original compositions from Mr. Ogutu that evoke a spirit of patriotism, selflessness, purpose-driven life and above all songs, poems and speeches that inspire reverence to the Almighty God. One such organization that has given us immense support and a platform is Emerging Leaders Foundation headed by Ms. Caren Wakoli. Seeing that our message of Africa's transformation through positive leadership change is being embraced by initiatives such as Good Governance Festival that took place at Central park where youths sang along "No To Poor Leadership" by Douglas is an encouragement to us.

I paused for a moment and just read through what I have written and what I can say is, if the addition of a year into our lives means a forward match, there is no shadow of doubt that 2020 is by Godspeed a year of even deeper waters. Shall you sail with us?
The author of this post is a staff member at 
Dowe Music &Arts. 
You can reach him through email: 
douglas@dowemusicarts.com

Monday, 16 December 2019

Music is A Language: My Experience in Ghana

Douglas with a copy of High Life Time 3


Ebo Tylor receiving an exemplary award
There's so much talent in Africa that I think if we had the right civilization to utilize it, there is no continent richer than this cradle of mankind. Two weeks ago I was privileged to attend ACCES conference organised by Music in Africa hosted in Accra Ghana. Chale (Ghanaian icebreaker term for Friend),there is music in this continent, and there's so much authenticity in West African bands that one can only admire. What is taking so long for the society to embrace art as a legit profession and a source of income? Why are we forcing ourselves to be aligned with the Western Style and  end up revamping the cliche of  'Starving artistes?' Right from the first performance on the night of 28th November 2019 by the legendary Ebo Tylor to the last night epic presentation of the Mokoomba band from Zimbabwe, I am still nursing the imaginations that this conference brought my way with the likes of FRA Band!



Yaa Yaa with the writer after a short interview
Yes, I mean it when I say nursing because consumption of works of art for me happens consciously unlike food where I delegate the duty to my enzymes and intestines. I could only but admire the high level of competence that was graced by great communication skills (non-verbal) among the players on stage.The drummer, guitarist, singer and/or the violinist knows exactly where to stop, start and continue! Without Music Sheets! Oh, that we would mimic this kind of collaboration, teamwork skills and trust in our endeavors as young Africans in the daily struggles for change in this continent. Wouldn't Africa be miles ahead?

As I observed the bands play, I imagined the hours of practice invested in the works. I wondered whether or not these young people have 8-5 jobs and doubted if that excellence can be achieved by occasional meetups where someone comes only at convenient times. Then it dawned on me that all these bands were international stars and that means a 'formal employment' might not be their cup of tea. They would be branded incompetent and lazy. These are people who have gone against all odds, and decided to work on their brands and it's no wonder they are shining. I hope you as my reader (not just musicians) are learning something about success.

Kyekyeku
During the day, there were a lot of workshops and seminars that at one point made me struggle with choosing what to participate in. When I mentioned above that the musicians play so well from memory and not sight reading, the point has nothing to do with them not valuing education. In the main hall was John Collins, a Ghanaian of British Decent and Kyekeku (Pronounced as Checheku), a renowned guitarist and a band leader enlightening us on the history of Music in Ghana. I have to confess that that was the first time I came across the term High Life Music. I was appalled by how a 'normal' guitarist can be so rich in history, understanding music theory and customizing it in the African context. I am more confident that Africa is rich! The discussion and the short presentation of the early music in the country was enticing enough for me to purchase the 600 page book (The most Expensive text I've ever bought) by John Collins entitled "HIGH LIFE TIMES."

A moment with Ghanaian Promoter, Katinkah
Partners such as Boom Play, Appraise music store helped enlighten us on the marketing strategy for musicians. Theirs was a general call that live streaming is a disruptive business technology that every musician needs to be aware of, if indeed they want to succeed commercially. When was the last time you bought a CD, or as a musician, how are the CD sales so far?




Ladies and Gentlemen, brothers and sisters, chale, I fell in love. I fell in love with Yaa Yaa's music! I have to confess that sometimes I feel that I am the odd one out. I get an invite to a big event (Well not so big as I am yet to be that famous here) and all artistes have come with playbacks which they sing along and act like DJs. You know, that feeling you get that you are the odd one out and since our audience is okay with that, your performance looks like one from Mars if not Pluto. As a string player, you play carefully because if your string
happens to snap, none of the artistes will come to your rescue. Wasn't it fun when this happened during the performances and the lead guitarist asked for a nother guitar while his was being tuned and trust me, except for music nerds like me, no one could notice.

Yaa Yaa on stage
YAA YAA(BertherBridget Kankam), comes on stage and introduces the percussion with her majestic art on the tom drum. I saw great energy especially when she psyches her team in dancing to the original compositions that everyone would join in regardless of whether or not you know the language. We had a chat the following day and something struck me. Well, not all, but for a few that I've met, when an artiste gets to perform in such a high end event, they at most have a minute for you, and sadly, it's normally, "Hi, I'm good!" I managed an interview with Yaa Yaa and there's so much wisdom that I will share in an exclusive post to come.






A group of guitarists and 
composers/producers consulting
 This post won't mean a thing if I don't talk about the respected legend Obrafour when it comes to rap music in Ghana. His original name is Michael Elliot Kwabena Okyere Darko.  Prior to his coming, we were in a workshop with producers. This was a continuation of the presentations each one of us was giving on our works. I got to showcase my piece on forgiveness which you can get by clicking on the link Msamaha This was termed as very emotional by the audience among whom was a lead HipHop Producer, Mr. Koffi. One can only wonder the power of music. That the mind can decipher a psychological piece even without words is just a miracle. That is when I got to learn a lot on film scoring that has been part of my desire for as long as I can remember. BY the way, some days to come I will be starring! Now, people were not ready to break for lunch lest they miss a seat to hear Obrafour. 

Time elapsed, entered a short man, with a hat covering clean but very dark long dreadlocks almost reaching his waist. The room became frighteningly silent and he began to talk. Now I am fond of writing the main points from speeches; it turned out I was going to be writing everything! With the release of yesterdays Wajinga Nyinyi by the Kenyan rapper King Kaka, now I know that RAP just means Rythmic African Poetry as defined by Obrafour.  Never had I heard a successful rapper speak in a humble manner, attributing his success to God and when asked how he manages to write epic pieces he said; 
I am a student of the Bible. My mother brought me up training me in the fear of the almighty God. I took that up. In my work, I reckon that I am speaking to families and so, dignity is important, I need to inspire generations (Paraphrase).
Douglas in ACCES studio on collaborations
This popped  open a section in my mind that was blocked years ago as I joined High School. I composed a lot of songs and some of them were pieces for rap. Sadly, none of them got an extra ear because the role models I'd have wanted to look upto were just profane. Either about sex, alcohol or drugs. If you are in Kenya, find out hip hop artists in Kenya around 2004 and beyond. Since then, I wouldn't listen to a Hip-hop piece until after campus but still, getting my hands on writing rap gave me chills. Maybe, it's time!
As always, making friends is a good thing to help one appreciate diversity. The show was over and I had friends back where I was staying. The names I remember( I am poor with names at first instances) are Maiu Pachamama and Ibrahim. Perhaps because they were my company at the beach. The photos below include them and a few others at the residence.


The writer at the Ghana
Academy of Arts and Sciences



 I am sure, those who know me have been wondering how I got there, because Ghana is miles away. My gratitude goes to Music In Africa for giving me the opportunity to participate and Prince Clause Fund for facilitating my travel and accommodation. Thank you for reading!
The writer is and artiste at and founder of Dowe Music &Arts as well as the pioneer of Art4Leadership.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Take Off I

Lake Como at night

Como is a beautiful place. Well I know that's an understatement but what can one say? Normally, a city with many big buildings and substantial traffic is accustomed to noise, rowdiness leave a lone carelessness.  The same is not true about Como. The hills that surround Lake Como with their natural flora and fauna from which exude the God given fresh air demand calmness in return for the serenity they offer. And the people there have danced to the tune of mother nature. You will see trees around every building, including the famous Como Cathedral with it's incredible Gothic design. I'm told it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Checkin in at Como City

Ladies and gentlemen, may I indulge you in this and other upcoming episodes of my journey to Italy attending the World Manufacturing Forum under sponsorship of Africa Innovation Leaders. I have been in this fellowship since last year and last month was the end that resulted in the above opportunity.

Lake Como from Cernobbio 
The forum took place in Cernobbio which is one of the towns around the lake. Right from the first speaker to the last in the Entrepreneurship session, the overriding theme was Collaboration. There was a constant reminder from everyone of them that if we are to succeed in the nex revolution, we must come and work together. Africa, Europe, Asia, America and the Arctic were all recognized as part of the globe that will neccesitate change. Stay tuned for some of the great quotes we got.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

WAKE UP! IT'S MORNING


Bishop TD Jakes Addressing Entrepreneurs 
“I hear people from outside talk about opportunities in Africa more than I hear Africans talk about opportunities in Africa…the globe today is ready for your Idea,”
NunuNtshingila, the Regional Director Facebook Africa pointed out this truth during SOAR AFRICA 2019 as she stood up to address enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

SOAR AFRICA is a platform for African Leaders to get peer mentorship, knowledge sharing and executive engagement that embraces servant leadership. 5th-6th September 2019 mark the inaugural dates for the event that has been the talk of the day at least by many in the country for the past one month. The event brought together admirable leaders not only in the business world but also from the Public as well as the Spiritual aspects of life. 

The main speaker being Bishop TD Jakes from the US, the audience were surely blessed by his colleagues of the day including Strive Masiyiwa, Joshua Oigara (KCB), Sylvia Mulinge(Safaricom PLC), CS Fred Matiang’I to mention but a few.

There had been a fuss all over the media about the charges to the event but some of us just chose to focus on the main thing, which was, “SOAR AFRICA.” I was not going to afford this summit but was positive that at least I could get some nuggets of wisdom even if it meant through leaked videos or the social media titbits. 

You can imagine the joy when I got a message to express interest in attending the summit through the YALI alumni email. KCB had decided to sponsor a few of us. That is one of the mails I normally respond to first, doing the necessary before asking questions. Doesn’t Steve Covey advocate for pro-activeness in his 7Habits of Highly Effective People?

Let’s just say I had to attend this no matter the circumstances. I had been down with a fever and I once thought about cancelling my travel plan but… Years ago I read a book with a title “THE PRINCESS WITHIN” by Sarah Jakes which made me admire the man, her husband. I looked forward to becoming a resilient husband, open and honest as well as God-fearing. 

So, when an opportunity comes to hear and see the man you read on paper and/or watched on electrons, what more can one ask? The fact that he is a man of God showing the world that business can be clean and money after all was meant to serve man and not the other way is inspirational and maybe for once…I had to pause because I think the statement needs its own sentence break.

For once, young Christians (and even believers of other religions) have evidence that being religious is not a license to foolishness and poverty as it is always shoved down our throats right from primary school by some who believe in nothing. 

According to TDJ, the success of a nation is like a table. The four legs are Entrepreneurship, Religion, Political Leadership and Technology. Knock any of them off and there you have a crisis. He advocates for an inclusive society where children, the youths and the elderly are part of the cake baking process.
I could see the passion he has for Kenya and the longings for the rising of the black continent. We danced to the beat led by the stamping of his foot encouraging Kenyans to start marketing their products.

“Success is no longer a local Idea…business is a brand. A brand is a promise…a promise is built on trust. Make it easier for people to trade with you…It is not about who’s next…find people who do what you can’t…collaborate…” 
A few months ago, during the National Youths and Devolution Summit, the speakers emphasized on the need for young people to advance from noise to voice. TDJ called on Kenyans to channel their energy into marketing their products because,
“We (outside Kenya) need your products, we need your music, your normal to us is amazing…the wind is right for your dream…wake up! Wake up Kenya, it’s morning!”

To sum up this write-up, my salutation goes to Joy Wachira, the founder of SOAR AFRICA for dreaming big and helping us get the motivation we needed to forge ahead. To KCB and the Yali Fraternity, one day books will be read as people overseas will be looking for the formula that made Africa arise, these titles shall be remembered.  Meanwhile, let me finish reading my copy of SOAR authored by Bishop TD Jakes. You can order it online at Amazon 

A section of young Entrepreneurs after the summit
Dear reader, thank you choosing to read this post under Art4Leadership with sponsorship of Dowe Music &Arts. We endeavor to highlight the positive change taking place in Africa as we rebuke the stench of evils that thwart her progress. Please stay tuned.
The writer has sole responsibility for the post.
Douglas Ogutu is a gifted 
musician and writer
 at Dowe Music & Arts




Saturday, 31 August 2019

Does it Matter Only when it is "Explicit?"

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

A LETTER TO YOU

Retrieved from Pratisthamishra


RE: 14TH FEBRUARY MEN CONFERENCE AFTERMATH
The above matter refers.
First, I render my apologies for not attending the men’s conference as I had a function dubbed “Touch A Soul” reaching out to children abandoned by some of you. I am writing to find out the outcome of that meeting. Days have gone since then and I submit to you that all is not well. We are headed south. We have left our place, fellow man.

I rarely watch TV but man, the news all over the place is not good. Fellow man, you take a woman out, enjoy the bliss, then when she notifies you of the new development; your phone loses network, your car develops engine problems, you get a new job in another city and you continue with your life? But why, why couldn’t bar this that if zipping up was a goal too far to reach?

I feel you man. Yours is a divorce case. Well, painful it was. However, those bundles of joy (I mean children) had nothing to do with you two before you started whispering sweet nothings, borrowing airtime for chats and meals at big hotels. They are missing you. The mother is busy covering up your absence with a flashy life style she can afford, thankfully for her unwavering determination. I hear them-children giggle with plastic joy, while the suppressed subconscious mind is screaming in my ears, “Could you be our daddy?” Man, where are you?

I am your daughter’s teacher. I am your son’s mentor. That's fine. But Man, you’re still alive and you are just there to let them see a father figure in me? Fellow man, when I read the episodes, watching the interviews with the children on celebrity status and I don’t see you even on the footnotes, it breaks my heart. That another man can access passwords to your daughter/sons’ phone at the tender age, you left him to be the one showing him/her what site to and/or not visit while you wine and dine doesn’t disturb you? Like for real, fellow man, we can do better. So, you are comfortable flipping through your memory, remembering 9 months after the notification a child was born and through the years you’ve never even talked…

I’m talking with you man. I know you pledged to be responsible. But the law leaned against you. Things are changing. Go back. Demonstrate you can. Your child needs you. Not your money, s/he needs your breath, the knowledge on how you keep calm even in drastic situations. Fellow man, I was hoping this was the content of the men’s conference in February. I think I was wrong. What did you dudes resolve?

My daughter is overseas. We (son and I) await her. When she comes, I will teach her. She won’t live by the phrase “What a man can do, a woman can do better…” what does that even mean? I will teach her to be the best of herself, compete with herself just like her brother is learning now. I will teach them both, that a man can not live without a woman and yes, a woman cannot live without a man. That it is fallacious to claim that, when one has a boss of the opposite gender, not to say a caretaker at home. “This world is full of double standards,” I will let them know. That when you educate a woman you have not educated the whole world, neither can one boast of having sound leadership by exalting a man alone. “Both you my son and daughter must be educated, trained, and mentored equally,” they will hear from me. That no one is weaker.

 Fellow man, well, I may not be present physically everyday due to my hustle: however, I want them to know that I am present.
Lastly, fellow man. I hope you join me in this pledge. I pledge to be a father when I become one. I pledge to be actively present. I pledge to let keep my child out of the quagmires of my relationship, wisely showing her why I had to choose the present life style. I pledge to be there and provide guidance, my child shall learn pertinent things first from me, not some other son of man. This I believe, is Art4Leadership
N/B: I am married and armed with the following truths:
Divorce doesn’t have to be drama.
Children should not suffer for my lifestyle.
I will do my best to keep it that way, but I am not immune to a break-up. It’s just by grace.

The opinions expressed in here are solely owned by the writer.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

FEEL THE BEAT: ART4LEADERSHIP "03






Our third edition was entitled MZALENDO which is a swahili word for "PATRIOT." It was a wonderful event bringing together young people over a conversation about Patriotism. We are grateful to our Speakers: Ms. Shikoh Kihika, the founder of Tribeless Youth and the NakuruYouth Bunge President Mr. Philip Ng’ok. The duo challenged the bright minds to take initiative realizing that the change Africa needs is within us.
The event started with a performance from Dowe Music Band with patriotic music from iconic legends like the late Oliver Mtukudzi. The audience would later on be treated to an own composition that left everyone pledging to stand for what is right and promote Nationhood.

During the panel discussion, Ms. Shikoh maintained that the youths need to read the constitution not only to demand for their rights but also to be able to fight for the less fortunate. In the same vein, Mr.Ng’ok called out for Servant Leadership attitude as well as the love for one another as Citizens.
A presentation from the youngest guitarist-Kyle stunned everyone and when asked how he managed to learn the instrument and could play effortlessly, he said, “Just feel the beat.” 
This in my own opinion is a great insight about life in general. One needs to study how systems work, in order to either fit in or course a change. Dear reader, do you want to bring about real transformation? You’ve got to do some study, listen, read and observe, in Kyle’s word, feel the beat!
Then came the opportunity hour! Various scholarship opportunities were broadcast with fellows and alumni sharing tips on how to make applications. Among other institutions represented were YALI RLC, Mandela Washington Fellowship (which is on course currently until 3rd August 2019), Chevening which was represented by Mr. Stuart Kasozi from Uganda, Emerging Leaders Foundation represented by Anne Kinyua, Cohort 6 Alumnus. The Kenya National Library Services was represented by it’s ICT officer Mr. Joseck Olala who shared a number of authentic courses offered at the Library free of charge.
Now you know, you don’t want to miss the next event which will be announced here in due time. Stay tuned and be a good citizen or at lead, Mzalendo!