A walk through my Cũcũ's farm

Nyokabi Kariũki

Botanical garden 'Giardino dei Semplici'

from 1.30 pm
to 3.30 pm

year: 2021

length: 3'42"

language: Kiswahili, Kikuyu

subtitles: italian, english

Being able to visit her Cũcũ - grandmother in Kikuyu - in her home in Githũnguri, Kenya, for Christmas, felt especially meaningful this year, given the pandemic’s toll on the world, and its spotlight on the vulnerability of our grandparents. 

Together with her family, Nyokabi walked around the farm — just as they always do when they visit — but this time, she found herself paying more attention: to the ground, to our languages (both Kiswahili and Kikuyu); to the flowers, fruits, leaves, birds, cows. It felt like the spaces between each avocado tree, the stillness between our conversations, the sounds of nature — and of a small farm giving life — were silently teaching her to revel in these little moments with family.

In this piece, musical melodies mimic the environment, and randomly taken recordings from the day weave into one another and into a poem Nyokabi has written in kiswahili: “I am learning, slowly”.

A walk through my Cũcũ's farm

Winner of the Hearsay 'Art' Award 2021

Nyokabi Kariũki is a Kenyan composer based between Kenya and the US. Her sound is ever-evolving, ranging from classical contemporary/experimental music to film, sound art, and (East) African musical traditions. She performs as a pianist, vocalist, and on instruments from the African continent - particularly the mbira and djembe. Nyokabi’s works have been seen at events around the globe, including the Hearsay International Audio Festival, where she received the 2021 Hearsay ‘Art’ Award. Her concert music has been regularly sought after, with commissions from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Men’s Ensemble, to performances by Chromic, Third Coast Percussion, and more. Nyokabi continues to explore music and its impact in different ways, ultimately driven by a yearning to explore sound as a tool to not only re-discover the stories of her culture, but also to highlight its significance, and contribute to the preservation of African stories.