Ekori Turkana is a hip hop and ethnic fusion artist from the Turkana District in Northwestern Kenya.
[Turkana District is a drought-afflicted region in Kenya that hosts the Kakuma refugee camp. The Turkana people have been systematically underdeveloped and discriminated against by the Kenyan government. International aid organizations operating in the region have failed to allow the host community and refugees to integrate successfully into a working community. Basic infrastructure is lacking or insufficient. On top of that, there is the IDP situation (displaced persons fleeing ethnic violence). You can read more about the Kakuma refugee camp in Ekuru Aukot’s chapter, “It is better to be a refugee than a Turkana in Kakuma.”]
Interview and translation by Jaymo Kusini, questions by Kevlexicon.
Where are you from, What was it like growing up?
I was born in Turkana
south katilu, I was brought up in a harsh life… our area is semi
arid. war and violence between turkana, pokot, and merrille from
Ethiopia made us move from one place to another, and sometimes moving
to get pastures for animals. am an orphan too having lost parents at a
tender age, my father died during a war with pokots, it was survival to
get food and basic things. most of my age mates died, and when finally
mother died life became so hard. uncle and relatives made it even
difficult. we did not know our future
Describe a memorable day in Katilu.
I remember one Saturday in katilu I met a person, and I was so hungry
and the stranger bought me bread.
What kind of hustles/kazi were people involved in?
There are no jobs in katilu and money came from selling mbuzi in
Lodwar, hustle in turkana is cow goats and camel
Who do you see helping out with the problems in Turkana (food crisis)
or anything else?
Since rainfall is small in turkana. Lake Turkana could be used for
irrigation, and also the government to promote drought resistant crops
and try discourage dependence on livestock. sometimes a drought
comes and all cow and goats die.
What do you see being mismanaged or abused?
Food donated by donors is sold by business people. Children attend
classes under trees, and they have to walk very far. schools are few.
Hospitals are few, bad roads . If the roads were made well business
would be good. CDF money is mismanaged. Turkana problems [are] used by
NGOS to make money
What can you tell us about the some of the conflicts between ethnic groups?
What I can say what’s makes us fight with pokots is because of
starvation, we fight for food, mostly if you look at pokot. They come
to raid our animals. Our only way of survival. …and a former MP lotodo
incited [these] wars. he died but what he started has continued to haunt
us, and revenges is order of the day. what I can say is this war can
only be stopped if young people preach peace
Who are your musical influences? For those who don’t speak Turkana,
please tell us what kind of issues your songs talk about?
What made me start singing was the things I have seen growing, the
problems, the good things, wars, cow, mbuzi. My music is inspired by
Turkana, and it is about peace and reconciliation between Pokot
Turkana and Merrille. Our music encourages us to stay as brothers and
also [talk about] other issues affecting us. [Encourage] children to go to school and leave guns. And to stay with love.
How did the move to Nairobi effect you?
I did not know Nairobi, when I came to Nairobi I realized people were
busy. i learned Swahili and my music talent got exposed, and after I
would go home and tell my people life is not to wear shukas. and wars. i
started mixing turkana and Swahili. Nairobi has inspired me and I
found people here were struggling and had problems.
What does hip hop mean to you, What motivated you to become involved in Hip Hop?
Hip music is music about truth .hip hop is true. you pass message to
people. hip hop is love and peace use hip hop to spread peace to my
What are some of the obstacles/problems facing young people in Kenya
today (zote, Lodwar to Dando to Westi?)
In turkana many youth have no jobs, and in turkana not many are
educated, and also in towns there is drugs and unemployment. People
have talent and skill. and sometimes turn to crimes. if there were
enough jobs there would be [presumably less] problems
What sort of positive things do you see happening with young people in Kenya?
CHINA has been making roads and bringing affordable things. I hope they
will also put roads in turkana. Kibaki has made some good changes, and
music is big and some people are getting jobs, artist are getting
platform and turkana now has oil and gold.
What is your hope for Kenya?
Youth, the young people
Wanajua – Man Njoro, Ekori Turkana, Checkmate Mido, & Fundi Frank
UNGA UNGA video with Audio Kusini.
Tumechoka video with Audio Kusini.