It has been argued that language is a barrier to effective communication and its pundits swear by this maxim anyway.
Musical pundits, on the other hand, trash this maxim, saying the effect of music is not compromised when it is delivered in a language its listeners cannot interpret.
In fact, singing along to an unfamiliar language has a certain thrill and mystery to it (South Africa’s kwaito music readily comes to mind).
With music, it is the essence of the tune, the rhythm of its bass line and the emotions it stirs that compensate — and compliment — what is not understood in the lyrics.
And this partially explains why the local gospel music scene has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade: artistes sing in their vernacular.
One of such artiste is Maryanne Naipasoi Tutuma, a 26-year-old Maasai from Kajiado East County. Naipasoi has, over the five years she has been in the industry, become one of the most celebrated artistes of her community.
She started singing professionally in 2008. At the time, she was training as a nurse at the Kenya Medical Training College.
“From the time I was a little girl herding cattle in my village, I enjoyed singing. People would hear my voice from far and they would recognise it,” she says.
Her passion for nursing waning, Naipasoi, left the college in her third year to pursue music on full-time basis and since then, she has had a string of albums to her name.
In 2008, she released her first album Olosho le Maa. This loosely translates to “The Maasai Country”.
“It called on the Maasai to unite; to stop dividing ourselves along political and sub-tribe lines. Clanism is meant to recognise the different tribes of the Maasai as one people,” she says.
Her second album, released in 2010, is titled IlMaasae Asai. As the title suggests, it is a call to the Maasai people to fear God and to leave behind traditional and age-old practises such as female circumcision, which are not pleasing to God.
In 2012 she released her third album Olosar. Her fourth and latest album was released in 2013 and is titled Olosho Obo, which translates to “One Nation”.
The success and public appeal of Naipasoi’s five years in the gospel music industry is telling in the number of awards she has been nominated for.
In 2012, she was nominated for, and won, the Mwafaka Awards with the track from her third album, Aira Magilani.
In 2013, she was nominated for the Great Rift Valley Gospel Awards in three categories: Songwriter of the Year, Maasai Song of the Year and Female Artiste of the Year.
In the same year, a track titled Safina from her third album was nominated for Xtreem Teeniz Awards in the Rift Valley Song of the Year Award category.
A track titled Enkisuma — which centred on education, especially for the girl child – has been translated to several languages, and has received massive airplay beyond the country’s borders.
Apart from her music, Naipasoi is also passionately involved in epilepsy awareness.
“Epileptics are the most challenged people because of the nature of the condition — it happens anytime, anywhere. Back in my village, I know many people live with it. Traditional medicine men have made people drink chameleon blood to cure the disease,” she says.
Naipasoi runs her own production company called Naimasop Production Company.
She is also chairperson of the Maasai Music Community.
Currently, she is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Music at Daystar University.
Naipasoi’s albums are available from various music stores countrywide. She can be reached through her Facebook fan page.