Its only words, and words are all I have
February 22, 2011 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Binyavanga Wainaina remembers one night in the Kenyan countryside as a young man, an excerpt from his soon to be published memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place.

Then a song comes on that makes me insist that we are leaving.

Sometime in the 1980s, a Kenyan university professor recorded a song that was an enormous hit. It could best be described as a multiplicity of yodels celebrating the Wedding Vow.

Will you take me (spoken, not sung)
To be your law- (yodel) -ful wedded wife
To love, to cherish and to (yodel)
(Then a gradually more hysterical yodel): Yieeeeei-yeeeeei -MEN!

Then just Amens and more yodels.

All these proud warriors, pillars of the community, are at this moment singing in unison with the music, hugging themselves (beer bottles under armpits) and looking sorrowful.
posted by infini (4 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Atmospheric and beautiful. I'm off to YouTube to see if I can listen to a dombolo song.
posted by bayani at 2:37 PM on February 22, 2011

Thank you so much for this! I was a Peace Corps volunteer (agroforestry) in Kenya in the mid '90s, and I love hearing about Kenyan agricultural work! Such a beautiful country...and such a strange experience...
posted by shrabster at 3:52 PM on February 22, 2011

Thank you infini; that was truly lovely.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 PM on February 22, 2011

Awesome. Can't wait for the book!

Also in the "memoirs of Kenya that made me cry" was Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Dreams in a Time of War, so.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:43 PM on February 22, 2011

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