Chillin with Olima / by Cyrus Moussavi

One of my main missions on this last trip to Kenya was to reconnect with Olima Anditi, the blind Luo guitarist I met on the first trip here.  He was on tour, traveling around Lake Victoria by himself. He plays at highway bars on market days, when villagers with money linger in the towns and drink sales are high.  We drove for hours to track him down, stopping at each town along Lake Victoria to ask about our man. Everyone knows him. "He's up the road," they'd say. "He was here last week."  

We finally got to Olima, and over several sessions I learned a bit more about his back story. On our last day together I opened him a bank account so I could give him some back royalties (not an easy task -- you don't hand a blind guy a bunch of cash in a rough town in Kenya).  We had some lunch and some Guinness (Olima's favorite drink-- he calls it refined busaa, the corn and millet based homebrew he drinks most of the time).  We recorded 12 new tracks. Finally, I played Olima the songs I'd recorded years ago (he remembers people by touch and when we met again he said "ah, you're the white man who recorded me on December 31, 2010").  That's where this screen shot comes from.  Olima was listening to the tracks on my phone and admiring his own playing, laughing about the lyrics, and giving me background on the tracks.  It was a damn good time.