RETURN OF JAZZ FOR PEACE TO AFRICA
in support of the
Empaash Olorienito Conservancy (EOC)
A Report by Paul Kilelu, EOC Manager
In April-May 2010, Paul Kilelu went to visit the Jazz for Peace office in New York City on a mission to explore bringing them to Kenya to promote the work of Empaash Oloirienito Conservancy (EOC). Fortunately I was able to reach the Grants Administrator, John De Angelis, on the phone before I reached their office. He kindly directed me to the office, and I was joined by Heather Wilkey who had introduced me to Jazz for Peace. We also met Debra Cerritelli, the Senior Event Coordinator, in the office and talked about all that would be necessary for Jazz for Peace to do a concert on behalf of EOC.
I went back to Kenya on the same day, 5th May. On my return when I met with the landowners of the Empaash Olorienito Nature Conservancy, I told them of my success of arranging for Jazz for Peace to come to Kenya. The landowners embraced the idea and the process of bringing Jazz for Peace to Kenya, even with all of the challenges involved. We received a letter from Jazz for Peace which clearly showed all of the steps required.
A personal decision was made to help them out by selling 4 of my cows to help pay 100,000 Kenya shillings thus showing the landowners that it was a serious plan and that we would be committing to do all of the steps to create the opportunity for a Jazz for Peace fundraising concert on behalf of EOC. After a detailed exchange of letters and Skype conference calls, the landowners now understood the grant requirements listed at www.jazzforpeace.org/grant (Section B) and showed their commitment by following the “two easy steps” required to select and confirm their VIP Guests of Honor thus enabling this historic event to take place with funds “already raised” for our Conservancy!
Immediately in the next days, all was done! Jazz for Peace management set the concert date in February 2011 for our historic event in Nairobi. Some landowners became very cooperative in lobbying for the venue for the event, despite how big a challenge it was for all of us, the prestigious reputation of Rick DellaRatta and Jazz for Peace was impressive to everyone and opened many doors. We were able to secure a venue for the event at the National Museum of Kenya during the last week just before the concert itself took place
Given that the corporate organizations in Kenya takes a substantial amount of time to decide on issues, we did not have enough time to secure any cooperate sponsors. The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTN) was our biggest target, along with KTN and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
However due to the success of this event they will now become sponsors for our next fundraising Jazz for Peace Concert.
RICK DELLARATTA'S ARRIVAL IN KENYA
Jazz artist Rick DellaRatta arrived in Nairobi on 16th February 2011 via British Airways at 10:25 p.m. Joshua and Geroge Kariuki (both landowners) from EOC came accompanied by me to pick up Rick and transport him to the hotel. We had booked him at the Nairobi Safari Club of the Charlestone Company, which is noted for its community outreach and corporate social responsibility: http://www.nairobisafariclub.com/index.php/corporate-social-responsibility
VISIT TO KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE
On February18th, Joshua and I picked Rick up from the hotel and took him to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Headquarters to meet the authorities and explore the animal orphanage. http://www.kws.org
We were received at KWS locally with a staff person (Mr.Mutiwa) from the KWS office at Ngong, who also took us to meet the Assistant Director, Southern Conservation Area, Mr. Wilson Korir, (Tel: +254-20-602121, Mobile: +254-721604434, E-Mail: email@example.com.)
Mr. Wilson Korrir welcomed us as we all sat around a table and introduced Rick DellaRatta to the authorities and to the Kenya Wildlife Service representatives. According to Mr. Wilson Korrir, the Jazz for Peace concept of empowerment was the best at this time when conservation of wildlife and the environment is in critical need. I reminded Rick that the crucial work of the Mara River recently had risen in international awareness because of the CBS-TV “60 Minutes” piece, "The Great Migration:" http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5362301n
This piece was shown on CBN and CNN. It was stated that the international awareness of the concerns that were so well expressed should be connected with work of the Kenya Wildlife Service. This is because KWS started as a competent authority for wildlife protection and can best advice and addresses the relevant bodies’ concerns. Mr. Wilson Korrir contributed many ideas on how the Jazz for Peace empowerment concept can be used to save our critical ecosystem with the EOC being only a pilot project. All of this can be done in many parts of Kenya.
The assistant director and other KWS officers, Karen Ndiema and Zablon Omulako, who were part of Empaash Oloirienito founders' group, joined us for a walk in the animal orphanage and later joined us for lunch, courtesy of the KWS.
We took Rick to the Karen Blixen Museum where we also experienced an amazing tour guided by very experienced guilds. (http://www.museums.or.ke/content/blogcategory/13/19/) The day was very well-spent but Rick became so tired we took him back to the hotel to rest!
RICK'S VISIT TO EOC
On this second day visiting in Kenya, Rick started his day from the Nairobi Safari Club and stopped for awhile at National Museum of Kenya (http://www.museums.or.ke/) to meet his curtain risers.
The Charleston van drove him to the trainers' Empaash Oloirienito Conservancy. They waited for Rick to sign a visitor’s book at our KWS office at Ngong. This office is under the jurisdiction of the KWS Ngong Station. Mr. Mutiwa, the warden of the station, briefed Rick about the area and its needs. We waited for the senior officers from KWS who also wanted to include the conservancy as one of the supported conservancies this year. Mr. Wilson Korrir, as stated, is the Assistant Director for the southern area of the conservancy.
All members of the party later followed us to the conservancy where the land owners and their families had gathered to welcome our guest. Rick was given a hero's welcome where the Maasai women adorned him with a Maasai dress as a symbol of acceptance to the community, its culture and tradition.
The ceremony marked a new beginning, a new lease on the life of caring for wildlife in the area. The Chief EOC Chairman, the KWS and Rick all touched and agreed on a new relationship of dedicated support for the challenges facing the community.
It was imperative that the relationship between Jazz for Peace and the EOC be able to do its utmost to create a significant impact on what is needed for the preservation of the Mara River and its ecosystem.
The nursery and primary school out of EOC has many needs to be acknowledged and developed. It is part of the EOC mandate that small children of nursery age should be gathered in the school. This area is also where the community gathering took place as they waited for Rick to arrive.
The critical need in this area is water for both wildlife and for people for domestic use.
The administrators of KWS promised the community 3 important things:
Training of scouts who will take care of conservancy security for both wildlife and people.
Exposure tours to the like-minded conservancy managers.
Emphasis on a visibility study which KWS will fund, to be done immediately.
The community asked for support from KWS, especially to equip the local station of Ngong to be able to deliver services sustainably. The Administrators promised a new Land Cruiser for the station and anything else of critical need. The meeting was very successful and served to reinforce the strong partnership between EOC and KWS.
THE HISTORIC NAIROBI CONCERT EVENT
Rick spent the better part of the rest of the day relating to local artists and sharing music-related information while making friends around Nairobi. The National Museum of Kenya was set up to accommodate 313 people. It was adorned with all sorts of decorations.
Tickets were sold at the door, and Maasai women displayed beads for sale by the door. People started arriving from 6:30 p.m. and continued to assemble until 7:30 p.m. for a "taste of jazz!"
A cocktail reception was available for guests. This gave Rick enough time to greet Kenyans and the assembled fans of jazz. Everyone was jovial, and we were all eager to hear Rick's piano playing and magical fingers on his instruments.
The curtain raiser that opened the show was local artist Aaron Rimbui, whose background is at once dramatic and inspiring: http://www.mwafrika.com/content/view/396/98/
Aaron set the perfect mood as he prepared us all for Rick's performance: http://www.reverbnation.com/aaronrimbui
The event was attended by people of all backgrounds - politicians, conservationists, musicians, tour operators, students, government officials and the landowners of EOC. Mr. Gideon Konchela, the former Minister for Immigration was the chief guest. He opened the ceremony and welcomed our guest from New York, Rick DellaRatta, to sit and play jazz for peace!
RICK'S VISIT TO THE UPPER MARA
The “60 Minutes” piece (see “The Great Migration” above) about large animal migration has raised an awareness of this global concern. Now many are visiting the area and want to help stop the degradation that has been occurring in the upper Mara. Rick had an idea to unite people into One World as a species, including those found in the great Mara. He invites people to consider joining others and avoiding a world of divisiveness. This better world is one where people can meet one another from different destinations and make lasting relationships. He chooses to support the people of Empaash as well as the people of the greater Mara and implores all to stop degrading the ecosystems.
The team which included Rick DellaRatta, Paul Kilelu, George Kariuki, James Migwi, Nasieku Saiyore of Evolution Magazine, Shiku and Steven Ole Narasha, who has starred at the Nairobi Safari Club.
We started our safari at 7:30 a.m. We had to stop at Narok town to buy water and later headed out on the road to Mara. Rick was amazed by the presence of so many wild animals that we saw on the side of the road as we passed the plains on the way to the Maasai Mara.
Our safari was full of fun; Rick was asking a lot of questions about animals.
Most people in the team did not know that in the past, the sexual mating of most wildlife breeding was usually portrayed as a classic polygamous mating system in which dominant males fight off competitors in an attempt to monopolize females encountered on their path. Mostly females are content to mate with the nearest dominant male. In my experience of wildlife, the strongest male takes over and chases the rest away.
The safari trip took us 7 hours to reach the Kitchwa Tempo where we stayed for 2 days. Our Safari was sponsored by friends of EOC and the full board at Kitchwa Tempo. We were greeted and welcomed to the most luxurious of camps in the upper Mara. There were several resident wildlife animals within the camp (harmless): warthog baby, water back blue monkey and leopard.
Shadrack Ole Seiyo, a staff member of Kitchwa Tempo, offered us the best hospitality we could have wanted and which we will never forget. On the second day at the Mara, we went on the same drive in the large Maasai Mara game reserve.
What did we witness at the Mara River where the Great Migration is taking place? The residents are cutting trees and clearing bushes to plant wheat. This activity is seriously incompatible with the existing natural ecosystem.
A question came into my mind, "How can these landowners be convinced to preserve the biodiversity?" I reckoned that this forest, which is being degraded / cleared, could remain home to millions of animals and plants. If utilized sustainably, this area could be developed into homes for many living organisms. Unfortunately these valuable benefits may never be found because the landowners are not paid to conserve flora and fauna.
Dickson was talking in the “60 Minutes” piece, and Rick wanted to meet him regarding ways to stop the Mara River watershed degradation. I called Dickson, and he came all the way from the Base camp about fifty kilometers away from Kitchwa Tembo. We arrived back from game drive at around 2:00 p.m. We had our lunch and later went with Dickson.
In all of the description in the above report, there is a focus on Music / Jazz by musicians who inspire us:
Aaron Krucial Rimbui has embraced one of the most innovative and enduring musical styles in the world. He has embraced the sound that is jazz. In 2005, he released his first album, Keys of Life - an exceptional jazz album with elements of world music and a tinge of benga-fusion. Having incorporated noted vocalists Eric Wainaina and Mercy Myra, this album went on to become one of the standout albums of the year. In 2009 and the stage was set for the release of Aaron Rimbui’s sophomore album aptly titled “Alfajiri”. Executive produced by Joseph Hellon for “The People Music Group”, this recording testifies to Aaron’s growing stature on the playing and composing fronts.
Rick DellaRatta who created "Jazz For Peace Poem:"
I hear jazz for peace coming through the trees,
And in my heart it fills me like a celebration.
I see the light and I want to follow,
Inspired by the past contributions of
Those that came before and laid the groundwork
For us to build on in this universal language
That is a gift for all mankind.
And when we speak it,
People are enlightened by the creativity and artistry
That stands for peace and love and humanity
And intelligence that leads to reaching potential
That we have in our soul.
So we can raise our total conscience and
See that the gift of giving is our greatest privilege.
See video of Rick’s performance in Kenya along with photos of his trip to the Upper Mara:
"I had the privilege and honor of videoing Rick DellaRatta, Jazz For Peace
Founder and invited guest performer, playing 3 songs at the "Enchanted
Evening of Jazz" at Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, California on
03/11/11, ending with "Waters of March," Deb, and I was up close and was
able to zoom in from time to time: "If you look at that video, which I have
done numerous times now, and watch Rick's talent in action and how his
entire body relates to the expression of his talent (the piano is a fixed object
in the environment to which he relates and utilizes to express his gifts) and
his obvious communication with the audience, it is clear that we are
witnessing a spirit in the world who has the potential to help us at ABC4All
facilitate what the world needs so badly, namely, Global Humanitarian Relief
(GHR) for anyone alive who is receptive."
-- Burton Danet, Ph.D., Co-Founder, A Better Community For All (ABC4All)
EMPAASH OLORIENITO CONSERVANCY (EOC):
With the charge to work on preserving ecosystems within the region of the Maasai Mara River with the implications of drought and drying up of the river causing extinction of so many of the big animals.
Robert Chew, as Co-Founder with ABC4All Team, states, "We are aware that solar pumping stations in most areas of Africa are possible. The technology will be made available via networks of networks that have studied the water tables of all of Africa and can also be of some help in this arena to minimize the costs of installation of the technology to resurface the ground water to places where animals can drink."
UNITING PEOPLES OF THE WORLD
Rick had an idea to unite people into One World as a species, including those found in the great Mara. He invites people to consider joining others and avoiding a world of divisiveness. This better world is one where people can meet one another from different destinations and make lasting relationships. He chooses to support the people of Empaash as well as the people of the greater Mara and implores all to stop degrading the ecosystems.
Paul Kilelu, Manager
Empaash Olorienito Conservancy (EOC)
Information Desk/Conservancy Manager - Paul Sadera Kilelu
Kiserian, Kenya 385, 00206
Mobile Phone Number: +254(0) 722 668 800