If you’ve never thought of poetry as dangerous, it’s time to re-think that belief! Tete “Neno Kali” Burugu joined me to discuss poetry, fatherhood and Kenyan culture.
Tete Burugu’s stage name is “Neno Kali” which quite literally is the Swahili term for Sharp (or Fierce) Word. While he wasn’t fierce with me, he also didn’t hold back in spelling out a few issues he has with Kenyan culture, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women.
Neno Kali is more than a recording engineer and a producer; he is a weaver of words. With lyrics that examine both the individual (where he draws from his own personal experiences), and society as a whole, Neno is a resounding voice of global consciousness.
Accompanied by his guitar, his guttural tones cast an eye on our social mores, from politics and tribe, to love and lust, and man’s personal quest for freedom.
Neno has worked with artists in the UK, in Kenya and in the USA, composing for and collaborating with the likes of funk luminary Tony Ozier, underground hip-hop veteran S.U.N. Scientific Universal Noncommercial, and soul songstress Hassanah.
In addition to writing rather culturally challenging poetry, Tete is also a key member of the band Mistik Natural. Grounded by the roots of their forefathers, Mistik Natural blend poetry, traditional drums and the acoustic guitar into a new sound that pushes the boundaries of contemporary music.
The group’s goal is to take the listener on a “musical odyssey where social conversations are fused together on a bed of reggae, hip-hop, ska, and traditional African beats.”
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