African Gift of Love from Eric Wainaina

26 Sep 2013, Amritapuri – Amritavarsham60

Cultural programs on Day Two began with a spectacular performance by Africa’s top musician, singer and song writer, Mr. Eric Wainaina who is also a UN Ambassador for Peace. He created a new contemporary sound for Kenyan music – blending Benga rhythms from the 60s and 70s with western harmony to produce what is now dubbed Afro Fusion.

He has performed earlier as well in front of Amma during her Nairobi program in 2009. He first met Amma in 2002 and is very inspired by her. Today, performing in India, perfectly dressed for the occasion in an Indian kurta, he delighted Amma’s children with a song dedicated to Amma in Hindi – “Tere liye Amma”. The Hindi lyrics sung on African beats were nothing less than a gift to the Indian devotees. Apart from this, he also sang an African number dedicated to her.

His feeling of oneness with India and the world were exemplified in his songs, the lyrics of which focused around oneness and equality. This seemed to be symbolic of the equal vision that Amma has for all her children, regardless of age, gender, caste, creed, religion, race, social status etc. His songs focus on creating social awareness like one of his earliest compositions – “Daima”, which has become an unofficial anthem and a critical call to unity during several crisis in Kenya. Every radio and television station adopted this song as a call for peace throughout 2007-08.

With Marvin on the drums, Victor on the keyboard, Paul and Ted on the guitar, all five of them ensured that the audience tapped to the beats of the songs though most of them may not know the lyrics. The guitar is the dominant instrument in Kenyan popular music. Eric sang two of his most popular songs – “Twende Twende” and “Sawa Sawa”. Sawa is a Swahili word meaning Equality. The lyrics – “you’re alright, you’re ok. I am all right, I’m ok” – explain the meaning of Sawa. Eric’s passion for his lyrics and music was visible in the blissful smile he carried as he sang and spontaneously danced in joy. Each song energized the audience, an effective antidote to the energy-sapping heat in the hall.

It was really nice to see Amma’s darshan telecast on one half of the big screen and, on the other half, Marvin playing the drums. Both seemed to be in perfect rhythmic harmony with each other. Eric’s Statue dance poses on the beats caught a lot of attention and applaud from the fans. In the last few minutes, the show became highly entertaining: Eric invited a few kids and ladies to join in and dance. A few of Amma’s international children along with Eric danced literally “to his tune”! And then, it was Eric’s turn to dance to the kids’ tunes! Where else would this happen except in Amma’s presence, where everyone becomes a kid (nay, her kid)?! Now, that was not just cool but also seemed to have a deeper meaning – we all are equal – you and me; I dance, you dance. It was overwhelming to see the humility of the star performer.
The performance came to a befitting climax with the next song – in Malayalam – “Nyan Ninne Snehikyunnu Amma!”, meaning “I love you Amma”. His love for Amma could be felt in his voice. And then, again lost in bliss, he danced to the drum beats, before thanking Amma, in Hindi, saying – “Shukriya (Thank You)”. While Poornamritanandaji was presenting the momentum to Eric and his team, Amma stopped darshan for a few moments and heartily clapped in joy. On the whole, the performance was one that will remembered forever.

– Shivangini & Chaitanya