Every time I meet kids from Ghetto Classics I feel elated at just how much brighter they look and how developed they’re becoming in their craft in music. Especially given the stack difference in what they’d probably have been were it not for the chance to get their thoughts together through music.
Last week I was delighted to join two of these children, Fabian Ochieng and Tracy Akinyi as they met the one person they both really look up to – Sanaipei Tande. The meeting was at KBC English Service and what a perfect venue! The three got to share studio time to talk about music, with Fabian and Tracy talking about Jazz and Sanaipei talking about her music and future plans for the same. I was a happy spectator to this meet-up and was pleased at how eloquent and knowledgeable the two were both about Ghetto Classics, as well as their instruments of choice.
Fabian Ochieng is a form 3 student at Our Lady of Fatima High School. He lives with his parents in Lakisama near Babadogo and goes to play music at Ghetto Classics during his free time which means some days after school, and for more time over the weekends. The young man whose parents at first did not understand what his craze for music was all about says that were it not for music, he would probably have fallen into a life of hopelessness that is characteristic of informal settlements. The program director Elizabeth Njoroge called them up and explained to them what Ghetto Classics was all about and they were game. Fabian has been playing the trumpet for 4 years now, before which he played the cello and violin. He says that the trumpet is his absolute favourite because it makes beautiful music. He loves Sanaipei because ‘ngoma zake ziko juu sana’, and was so delighted to meet her in studio that day.
Fabian has become so good at trumpet that he’s among those you’ll find playing at Safaricom Jazz, as well as other gigs which the director organizes for them to make money which goes to school fees. He now wants to get into music as a career. He loves football and has no doubt that professional football would have turned out his second choice of career.
Tracey Akinyi is a form four student at Kariobangi North Girls and being a candidate who does lots of preps and evening classes, she says that time management is her biggest strength so that she’s able to juggle between school and music practice at Ghetto Classics. She plays the clarinet and has been at it for three and a half years. She goes for practice between once and three times a week, and goes ham over the weekends. She’s from Ngomongo and like Fabian’s her mum did not understand the essence of Ghetto Classics until Elizabeth spoke to her.
Alongside playing music and specifically the clarinet for a career, she also wishes to do medicine so she can go back to Korogocho and help sort out the health problems that plague the surrounding communities due to the stinky dumpsite that is Dandora. So in love is she with the clarinet that even during her free time, she takes time to jog as exercise to strengthen her lungs so she can play better. Tracy loves and looks up to Sanaipei because she’s so down to earth and dresses and carries herself so decently.
Both Fabian and Tracy acknowledge that music helps put their thoughts together. Being at Ghetto Classics encourages their mental and social growth, as well as social skills and their dreams are for other children to join Ghetto Classics since its free of charge.
Incidentally, a most favourite star for both of them internationally is the late Hugh Masekela, and Nairobi Horns locally. As for Sanaipei, she was delighted know more about the program and certainly looks forward to doing something with Ghetto Classics in the future.
These are stories of just two kids at Ghetto Classics where all proceeds of Safaricom Jazz go, and we can only imagine the ripple effect it will have on the area since they want to make it in life and be in a position to come back and give back to the community.