Mothers continue to enjoy limelight by way of idolizing songs. Fathers, on the other hand, are neglected and it stands to reason: children of both gender, many times, are nurtured and groomed for life by mothers. Fathers have more specific purposes: upkeep money, play, protection and sometimes discipline.
It is against this backdrop that Tetu Shani’s latest single, An Ode to Pa, should be approached. At the very beginning of this song, a lofty mission is stated: “This is a song for you, daddy”. With its music pared down to just the synergy between drums and guitar strings, this reflective song addresses the story of a grown son talking back to his father who had been absent in his formative years because of “fame and national duty”.
Guitar-wielding Tetu Shani, arguably Kenyan’s leading contemporary folk musician, enjoys a wealth of influences in his music. His distinctively original sound is as Africa as it is cosmopolitan. In a sense, it is like Kenny Rogers meeting a Luther Vandross who so happens to speak kiswahili. Picturesque images intersperse with delicate emotional truths buried within a cultural context. The result is over four minutes of acoustic bliss.