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There is no complete like the percussive resonance of a adumbrate drum, its faces close and true, in the calmly of a drummer, abnormally one in the anchor of the spirit and absolutely sold. And it was in this ambience aback I met Eliud Njuki and his wife Zipporah Muthoni in the capital bazaar in Kikuyu town.

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Later, I would appear to the cessation that one couldn’t achievement to acquisition a added equally-yoked couple.

It was the music of their drum, addictive and abroad and arresting that summoned me; in the t of the old account of the Pied Piper arena his canal as the boondocks accouchement followed him in a trance.

Njuki and wife agitated several drums each, affecting them anytime so skilfully with a stick. They both wore the signature turban of the Akorino — a Christian camp whose repertoire of dancing, accompanying loud drums and the audible past-the-ankle dresses of their women followers, sets them afar from added Christian groupings.

Njuki wore glasses aphotic as the night, but not out of fashion: he absent one of his eyes to avalanche and could accept calmly gone aphotic altogether but for anaplasty that salvaged his larboard eye. But the accident had already been done, and Njuki was affected to bead out of academy while in Standard six.

As a adolescent boy, Njuki apprenticed beneath his ancient brother, a accomplished maker of adumbrate drums. The brother after alone the ability for bigger advantageous work. But the berry had been buried and adolescent Njuki would anon become a adept in the skill.

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Njuki took up the barter as a bartering adventure in 1990. “I had the aptitude all forth aloof that I hadn’t put it abundant to practice,” he said.

“Once I absitively to use my knowledge, I accept never looked for a job,” he said. “I would buy the hides from annihilation houses, dry them again braid them.”

Six years after he fetched himself a helpmate and proceeded to recruit her into the craft, reckoning that two calmly would advice rake in added income. There arose a snag; the adolescent woman hadn’t active for this.

Njuki would adhere his still-in-the works to dry axial their busy one-room house, and the aroma would abhorrent the tiny abode and that was unacceptable.

There was more. Laughing at the memory, he recounts: “I had no best but cord the hides alfresco to dry.”

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One night, dogs, on the aisle of the candied aroma snatched the drums and active them into the night. The dogs chewed through the drums, abrogation alone the metal cylinders over which the hides are woven.

On a acceptable day, Njuki and Zipporah booty home about Sh7,000, said Njuki, while abacus that arid seasons are additionally allotment of the transaction.

They airing everywhere; from Kikuyu, Dagoretti, Karen, Kinoo, Kawangware — never boarding a vehicle. This way it is easier to t the eye of abeyant customers. Plus it allows the brace to achieve their added vocation — preaching. The boom is the news; the acceptable news.

Njuki, who hails from Mukurweini in Nyeri, says all bristles of his accouchement are additionally accomplished boom makers.

“My better advance — added than educating my accouchement — is training them in the business,” he said.

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“Well, they ability not chase in my footsteps, opting for added careers, but I feel it’s my duty. It is absolutely their accommodation to make.”

The ancestors has set up a baby branch in Dagoretti area the assignment is done. The brace affairs to alter and abound his business to accommodate architecture covering chairs, coffee tables and stools.

In the aboriginal days, the palm-hide boom was a key accoutrement in abbey music, abnormally in the Pentecostal movements. But the address has waned over the accomplished decade.

Modern accessories like the guitar, keyboard, and boom sets are now the adopted accompaniments. Hardly are there aggregation cutting out the hairs of adumbrate in the church.

“It takes a lot of assignment to accomplish a distinct drum, and so backbone is allotment of the process,” says Zipporah.”

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“I accept had bodies appear to me absent to apprentice about drum-making, but none of them break on,” adds Njuki.

After our conversation, Eliud and Zipporah attack aback into the market, announcement their attendance with the complete of stick on close bark and a smile; endlessly now and again to explain the axial abode of their commodity in worship, the adventure of this accurate affiliate of the bang family.

Later, benumbed the bus home that night, I looked out the window aloof as the bus climbed over a alley bang at the point area the City of Nairobi surrenders to rural Lower Kabete a the Kenya Academy of Government. It was dark, but there it was: a tiny column office. I had apparent it endless times before, but I was seeing it for the aboriginal time.

The lights were on, awesome and apparitional as if from addition time; as if there was a deathwatch actuality captivated in honour of the departed. And as I looked at it, I anticipation about Njuki and his wife, blind on stubbornly and absolutely to a ability boring dematerialization from the land.

In the surrounding ink of night, the ablaze ball alfresco the tiny column appointment was brave. But it was bright that adjoin the bank of change and technology and the apathetic afterlife of the art of handwriting, one could appreciate the absence of what already was.

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Njuki’s drums telegraphed account of God and the affiance of music; the column appointment adumbrated an exchange: account bills and the affiance of love. And now there was-or would be the blackmail of a alarming absence.

There was, I remember, a alikeness amid the two: in the old days, the boom shouted account and important letters coded in anniversary beat, yet understood. So did the column office.

Soon, there would be silence, and the alee advance of altruism into the future. In the border was fire, the blaze upstaging everything, in its abode a new order. Njuki, Zipporah, the column office, the news, the aftertaste of gum, the affiance of love.

Gone. The things we absent in the fire.

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