The book contains data relating to the life and work of four African Composers, with reference to the influence of Luo traditional music and dance. The author shows how, through a process of diffusion, the four composers of the Luo thum (as it is known today) like many of their colleagues, have re-interpreted and re-invented material from the music and dance styles of the different cultures and traditions that have invaded the Luo since the beginning of the 20th century. He attempts to show how their work is related to the structure of their society. Jothumbe (of the lineage of musical instruments or the owners of musical instruments) as the composers are known, represent a specialized group of music makers whose main duties are similar to those of jowend kong’o (those who sing at beer parties). Besides providing music for entertainment, they serve as indirect controllers of behaviour of members of the community. This they do not do by participating in formal judicial deliberations of the community but rather, through their music, by exposing for public scrutiny, behaviours of any individual or group which strain or strengthen the bonds of social organization. It is important to note that the Luo thum in its early form was used to accompany beer songs at beer parties, and the development and the changes through which it has undergone reflect socio-economic changes that have invaded the Luo territory. This book is quite resourceful to ethnomusicologists and scholars interested in cultural studies.
Charles Nyakiti Orawo is a Professor of African Music and Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music and Dance, Kenyatta University, Nairobi (Kenya). He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from The Queen’s University of Belfast. He is an ethnomusicologist, supported with extensive field research experiences in Music traditions of Africa. He is the author of, among others, Music Traditions of Africa: A Study of the Music of the Dawida and Music Traditions of Africa: A Study of the Music of the People of Busia, Kenya.