[dropcap]W[/dropcap]illiam Chemweno 75, from Marakwet West has been composing patriotic songs during celebrations with his creativity and humour sending audiences in stitches.
During the recently concluded Madaraka Day celebrations, Chemweno composed a song on the history of Elgeyo Marakwet County before and after independence and, with the mix of local Marakwet dialect and Swahili, he left the crowd in stitches.
His love for music started at a tender age and he scaled it up when he started his teaching career in 1961. Chemweno did not only teach but also composed songs that he taught his learners winning invitation to entertain guests in different celebrations.
“When I got posted to Sangurur Primary School as a teacher before independence, I not only taught academic subjects but I also developed a choir and penned songs,” said Chemweno.
Some of the songs he composed during his early years include, “We love our leaders.” The song was written and sung when Elgeyo Marakwet headquarters moved from Tambach to Iten town.
Another one ‘Wazee siasa mchezo hatari’ that he sung to entertain leaders at one of the celebrations and another one ‘Moi’s journey’ that he sang for the former president when he visited Kapsowar town in the 80s, among others.
“The song that I wrote for the former president was such a sweet song and when my learners performed on stage, Moi laughed throughout the performance and later he gave me Ksh 10,000 as a token of appreciation. That was a lot of money then,” he disclosed.
Cheweno, who adorns bright coloured suits on stage, says bright colors illuminates the audience and armed with a small improvised stick he enjoys the rhythm of his songs making sure that his singers never miss a key.
After he retired from the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in 1997 he established his private school which he named Chemweno Top Hill Academy with the help of then District Education Officer (DEO) Ronald Kimuron.
“My school is now where I have continued teaching and nurturing upcoming talents who are interested in music; with my school running I am able to continue composing songs and teaching learners for the purposes of entertainment,” he says.
Though he has not earned much money in his music career, Chemweno says he has gained popularity among leaders and residents of Elgeyo Marakwet County.
“I enjoy music and I have not commercialised it because I only use music to entertain and educate and after a rib cracking performance, I am satisfied with the pleasure that my audience experiences while enjoying my songs,” he says.