The Inspiration Behind Njoki Karu’s ‘Omba’

The Inspiration Behind Njoki Karu’s ‘Omba’

Deep inside every Kenyan lies a wound that is triggered each time a terrorist attack is mentioned be it on air or on social media. Fresh cuts are still bleeding in the hearts of those affected by the nerve-wracking Garissa College Attack. It fills most of us with endless remorse each time we remember the 147 innocent lives that were lost that fateful day and that is why when I heard Njoki Karu’s ‘Omba’ for the first time on her Instagram Feed, I was touched by the soothing yet heartfelt lyrics of the song.

It brought back all the memories of terror attacks, war and loss across our continent and why there’s need for unity and peace. In my feels, I dropped her a message and asked to understand how she felt and why she had written the song.

Below is her response.

 

It’s not like I knew anyone from the Garissa shootings, but I remember waking up to the news and being completely broken by it. I was shattered. It was a rather wintry day in April 2015, and there I was on the train on my way to school, and just like magic the song flowed right through me. I can only say it’s God who gave me that song because it is an incredibly beautiful song that I cannot even take the glory for writing.

It was only a year later that we actually got to recording Omba and Michael Borgida graciously gave us an opportunity, through Berklee, to do this. Working on this song was a rather humbling experience. I got to work with Kwame Nkrumah and Tabari Lake, the geniuses behind the marvelous instrumental arrangements, brilliant vocalists, instrumentalists and engineers who put their time and their energy into the making of this song. Without them, it would not have been what it is because the gifts they gave breathed life into the song. They made dreaming easy. It is my hope that this song heals the wounds we cannot see, and that it touches where hands can barely reach.

Yet again we stand 
Amidst the chaos and the cold, unforgiving stench of war, and we pray
For the healing of our wounded souls and for hope for our broken spirits
As we gather unto ourselves pieces of the dreams once lived for
Dreams once longed for
Yes, we shall pray.”
Watch ‘Omba’ here and don’t forget to give feedback.

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