Elizabeth Rachael Wambura Mitaru is a singer, songwriter simply known by her Kenyan names Wambura Mitaru.
She is also the first female recipient of a full-ride scholarship under the Africa Scholars Program at Berklee College of Music, Boston MA, U.S., a near-impossible task for anyone who was tone-deaf.
How do you feel about the current state of our country?
Everything feels uncertain, but still I feel very hopeful. I think that as citizens, our individual differences and similarities are now coming to the fore, and it feels like we all have to deal with so much all at once, especially with the coronavirus pandemic.
The president recently announced that his government would expend Sh100 million to artists. Do you support this move?
It’s a good idea, but sadly it is just a temporary measure. There are many people, who are not musicians, who are also very important in our lives and they also need rent, food and other basic commodities but can’t get them because of various restrictions.
I hope they will also be considered by the government.
Where do you find the strength or inspiration to forge forward during this time of uncertainty?
Hope is keeping me alive. Hope keeps me going even when it seems dark. In one of my songs, “Dance”, there is a line that goes, “When the storm comes, when the wind blows, dance.”
This song literally reminds me not to forget to dance no matter how tough things get because it is so natural to give up and feel like everything is hopeless and painful.
But when we give up, a part of us dies and I am determined to live to see the end of this situation.
So, listening to my students sing, listening to other musicians create and share their music, watching little kids and old people respond to music and art around the world, makes me hopeful and inspires me to keep creating music and to keep moving forward because the virus will one day end and we will have to rise up and move.
However slowly, or however fast, we will move forward and so I choose to hope and dance and create even in this difficult time.
What do you think artists can do in future to protect themselves from global calamities or cash crunches?
There are so many possibilities. I think the first barrier to overcome is the enemy within, which is all the doubts, fears and struggles we face internally.
But this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Having a supportive community makes all the difference because it reminds us that we are never alone.
When we see ourselves as stellar contributors in the society, each with unique abilities and expressions, we will connect with those who identify with our uniqueness and they will support us.
There are so many ways of making hay. Because we are artists, everything is valuable for our use and profit. Art is limitless.
What do you miss most about your first days as a musician?
As you get started, you experience a great sense of excitement and an unimaginable desire to explore your abilities.
It’s like the way a child learns about different textures, flavours and experiences. Children are unhinged, free and unlimited.
That is what I was exploring in my album, Kena. I recorded it while pregnant and the entire experience was mind blowing!
I had so many ideas and my producer was so gracious. He allowed me to spew out all my thoughts and ideas.
Art to me is all about making childlike discoveries and explorations. I hope I never lose the sense of excitement for music, and I wish that for every person who loves music.