Maasai Field Recordings Collection


The Maasai Field Recordings Collection is a collection of recorded music archives housed at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. in the U.S. The collection features six audio cassettes of Maasai traditions recorded in the Laikipia region of Kenya. These recordings were possibly made by Ole Tingoi.

There is another recording in the hands of an American called Hans Johnson while planning a backpacking trip through Europe in 2001. Before going back to the U.S., he listened to some old tape recordings his father made while on a trip to Kenya a few years earlier. While in Kenya, his father met some Maasai people and brought back some crude tape recordings of their music. The music he heard prompted him to search everywhere, including the Smithsonian and Library of Congress. He did not find much but rather few samples. He decided to go to Kenya and record Maasai music for himself. A self-taught audio engineer, Johnson quit his job as a record store clerk, purchased a plane ticket and a pair of hand crafted stereo microphones especially made for professional field recordings.

A month later he was walking from mud hut to mud hut in search of Maasai music. He met a Maasai man named Simon Saitoti who shared Johnson's vision of documenting Maasai music. Saitoti understood the importance of preserving this important part of the ever changing Maasai community. Saitoti, a school teacher fluent in English, was able to help Johnson gain access to people's homes, warrior encampments, schools and churches. They collected over 300 Maasai songs between 2001 and 2003. They manged to compile the music into a 15 track album titled 'Rhythm of the Maasai'. The album features pure Maasai music recorded in Kenyan villages. It's a rare look inside at one of the world's last indigenous communities.

USWashington, United States


Library of Congress
Profile added by Ano Shumba on 19 Oct 2015