The Ghetto Classics orchestral group recently embarked on a different kind of musical journey in Kilifi County, where they lent their voices, talents and musical prowess to create awareness on the conservation of wildlife, especially elephants, through film, art and music.
Elephants, the smart and highly social creatures, have over the years been threatened by poaching and habitat loss. As a result, the number of African forest elephants has fallen by more than 86 per cent over a 31-year period, and the birth rates are not keeping up with deaths due to poaching.
These unsettling facts led a team of talented producers and filmmakers — Mark Deeble, Victoria Stone and Etienne Oliff — who delved into the everyday lives of elephants.
For a decade, the trio led a team to document the lives and stories of elephants that is now available as a film – Elephant Queen.
The film, currently available on Apple TV, uses music which amplifies the message in the film.
As the outreach program showcased the first public premiere in the country, Ghetto Classics came on board to bring to life the tracks in the movie.
Catherine Enane, a member of the Elephant Queen Outreach Program, said music is critical in the film.
“The film directors put a lot of effort towards the music for the movie. The whole movie has a lot of entertaining soundtracks, and they made sure that they are clear, entertaining and enjoyable. So we looked at how we can bring this part of the film to life, and closer to a young Kenyan, and that’s where Ghetto Classics come in to play the tracks and bring them closer to people. We will be doing this in the schools and communities that we will be reaching out to,” said Catherine.
The Elephant Queen Outreach Program hopes to inspire young people through Ghetto Classics not only on matters of conservation but on what it takes to thrive in music and appreciate the hard work that comes with playing the theme tracks of the movie.
“They play so beautifully, and I am sure this will inspire young people. It takes a lot of hard work to get those codes right and ensure everything is in place. We believe that when a young person looks at their peer doing such hard work in the line of conservation, it will move them. We hope that they see conservation is a cool thing that they can take part in, ” Catherine said.
For the 28 members of the Ghetto Classics, this was an opportunity for them to do what they do best: making an impact through music.
Charity Faith, who plays the percussions and a rising star of Ghetto Classics, said this is an excellent opportunity to make an impact by doing what she loves.
“When I started playing, I didn’t think I could be part of something like this, but I am proud that I have an opportunity to inspire young people to take care of their environment through doing what I love, which is music,” said Charity Faith.
Julius Okello, the lead double bass player of the orchestral group, says this is a dream come true: amplifying the voice of conservation through music.
He said: “It is exciting, and it’s a great honor to be part of this project. Most people dream of being part of such collaborations to make sure that we conserve the environment, wildlife and all the animals, but they don’t get the chance to do so. We are privileged to be here today to tell people that they should be concerned about our environment and participate too.”
For some, it was an opportunity to give the people of Kilifi an orchestral treat.
“I have enjoyed playing here and bringing this kind of experience in Kilifi and introducing the audience to a new genre of music from what they are used to,” said Fabian Ochieng, who plays the trumpet on Ghetto Classics.
According to Catherine, Ghetto Classics will play a key role in their outreach program for the film and conservation campaigns.
“We are looking at having Ghetto Classics as one of our young ambassadors even as we build an army of young conservational ambassadors who are devoted to keeping our environment and the ecosystem as a place we all want to live in,” said Catherine.