With Kenya in a disputed-election situation gone increasingly south, those who were once making a steady living in the country -- and especially the nation's capital -- have seen their businesses destroyed or shut down and their lives reduced to day-to-day survival. One group in particular has been struggling since the start of the riots: musicians. Because of the spreading violence, curfews have been put in place that have effectively put an end to the career of anyone making ends meet via evening gigs.
Opiyo Bilongo, Onyango Wuod Omari, and Onyango Jagwasi, 3/5ths of the Obama-loving, Kenyan/American hybrid group Extra Golden, are three such musicians who live in Nairobi. Fellow bandmates Alex Minoff and Ian Eagleson, have put a message up on the band's website, appealing for financial help:
Opiyo Bilongo, Onyango Wuod Omari and Onyango Jagwasi [...] all have large extended families for whose well-being they are entirely responsible. Of course, as musicians, that well-being is provided for through nightly work at clubs. With dusk-to-dawn curfews in place, these men are all unable to work, and a subsistence that was already hand-to-mouth has become non-existent. They have been forced to leave their homes, which have subsequently been looted. Their families have almost no food and no clean water. Even with the swiftest possible resolution to the country's debilitating political situation, it is hard to foresee a time in the near future when these men will be able to go back to work.
As the bandmates and friends of these exceptional men, we are used to helping them out of financial jams but, as musicians ourselves, this critical situation is one that is simply beyond our own means. While the plights of Bilongo, Omari and Jagwasi are by no means unique in a country full of desperation, it is within our power to help them and their families directly. We are asking for donations of $5. Of course we will accept any amount you can muster, but we believe that with enough contributions of $5 we can make a huge difference in our friends' lives.
To make a donation, please go to http://www.paypal.com and choose "send money". When asked for the email address of the recipient, enter service [at] kanyokanyo.com. Please feel free to forward this message. We thank you in advance for your compassion and we hope that your help will enable us to compose a song of thanks for our next album.
The band's latest LP -- the excellent Hera Ma Nono -- was released last year on Thrill Jockey and should definitely be picked up after sending the band a much-needed donation.