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kenya smallAs a Stargardtien, the sense of listening is more important than vision. The sounds around you can tell you much about what is going on. Even if you just sit on the porch of your house. The following newsletter features an audio recording of a typical Sunday in Nyahururu.

I recommend using good headphones or earphones, as the recordings were made with a special microphone that preserves the spatiality of the sounds.

(click on the triangle above to start the player)

What is happening

I like to stay in bed a little longer on Sunday. So I often sit around 8:30 am at breakfast when the Catholic Church across rings for mass; from tape and over loudspeakers. This is the second mass: the first, in English, begins at 7:00 am, the second is held in Swahili, and the third, at 10:00 am, is held in Kikuyu. After breakfast, I take care of the house and while sweeping the veranda I can hear my neighbour on the right, who is also doing something around the house and is singing. There usually is a lot of singing in Nyahururu.

Then the neighbouring children on the left are up and playing in the garden. Sometimes they come to visit me to see what the muzungu (Swahili for a European; literally: strange, curious) is doing - and how far the strawberries are in his garden. Then the alarm system of the neighbour behind me goes off once more. This is a frequent occurrence, sometimes a passing truck or a clap of thunder is enough to set it off. Although I don't live on the main Nyahururu-Nyeri road, the traffic is very present. Especially the Bodabods, motorcycle couriers for people and goods, are always numerous and loud on the road.

This is also due to the slight incline in front of the entrance to Nyahururu High School for Boys, a boarding school with 800 boys, where I live in one of the teachers' houses. My two neighbours on the left and right are both teachers at the school. And both keep chickens, like many others in town, when they have the opportunity. In addition, the school cowshed is right in front of my gate.

In the afternoon, the school organizes a leisure activity for the students, while the church choir rehearses next door. In the evening it gets a little quieter, time to get out my hammock. Only the calf is bored. It is usually tied up in the shade and receives a bucket of water that it often tips over. Fortunately, the farmer comes with the big cows and milking begin. Here a rural soundscape meets an urban one.

Thunder can be heard in the distance. I sit on my veranda and watch the approaching thunderstorm. When it starts raining, a flock of guinea fowl is looking for a dry place. A pair of birds live in my garden and calls every morning; very loud birds, but unfortunately too unpunctual to use them as an alarm clock. When it gets too cool and too wet even under the veranda roof, I withdraw into the house. 

The recordings were made with an iPhone 6 Plus using the app Rode Recorder. As micorphone served a Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset. Audacity was used for mixing and producing.


Sound pieces

Here individual sound pieces are described with time code. In addition, special noises are listed that you can discover. It is not a complete record, not every bird call is listed individually. Some recurring noises are only mentioned the first time.

00'00 motorcycle on the right
00'14 church bells
01'11 tinny sound behind me 
01'22 wind moves my outer door until it clicks into the lock
02'22 women singing (belongs to the bells)
02'44 air brakes (4x)
03'36 palm leaves rustle in the wind
04'37 garden gate of the neighbour
04'49 the neighbour comes home (returning from church?) and finds his front door locked. He knocks and is let in.
05'38 the neighbour sings in front of the house
06'26 horn
07'10 children play outside and talk to their mother
07'41 truck struggles up the incline
07'56 alarm system
08'54 alarm system stops
09'09 choir rehearsal in the Catholic Church
09'12 calls from the school, left
09'29 goal!
10'20 motorcycle, right
10'39 horn (2x)
10'36 another goal!
11'51 the choir begins a new song
11'59 the door of the neighbours opens, the family leaves the house and locks behind them
13'18 chicken cackling
14'09 chicken discussion,  fading out after 1'15; it went on for about 10 more minutes ...
15'13 calf mooing (5x)
15'28 street seller calls out his goods
15'40 the neighboring family is back and speaks in front of the house
17'35 milk kettle rattles
17'38 milking noises
18'47 rumbling thunder
19'54 ... and then the first drops fall
20'03 the neighbour repairs something on his chicken coop
20'27 the children run home
21'43 the rain sets in
21'48 calls of the guinea fowl, come closer
23'37 heavy rain on the metal roof



This article is part of the series "Stargardt in Africa".