Street Guitarist Shares the Christmas Spirit With Hymns in Nairobi, Kenya

A soft strike on the guitar strings and a bit of tuning, and 29-year-old Samson Kule Mannasseih, a street singer in Nairobi, is ready to go.

“You can sing along. It’s time for love, joy, peace and fun,” he tells a small crowd that has gathered on Kimanthi Street to listen to him.

“I want to remind you that Christmas is around the corner. We have to celebrate,” announces the small-framed singer as he strums the guitar.

Then comes the baritone: “Silent night, holy night ….”

Mannasseih, an Anglican Christian, takes the crowd through popular Christian Christmas classics — “Joy to the World,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Jingle Bells” — before bringing them home with a Swahili gospel tune.

“He is unique, original and a good entertainer,” said a fan named Jane, who joined in the singing.

Kenya, in red, located in eastern Africa.
Map courtesy of Creative Commons

As holiday decorations appear in shopping malls and Christmas trees are set up in churches and the entrances of buildings, Mannasseih — the lone guitar man — is doing his part to get people ready for the holidays by performing what he calls “sweet street music.”

“My singing is for all categories of people or groups. It is the music that calms everyone,” he said. “My audience is not only religious people but also people from all tribes, communities and nationalities. It is music for everyone.”

Standing on the streets with a guitar, a speaker and a microphone, the singer takes street singing in Nairobi to a higher level.

It’s not easy.

Mannassieh competes with the sound of radios blaring on the sidewalks — and the occasional church choir that has taken its rehearsals out into the street. Sometimes his equipment is collected by the Nairobi City County guards and he has to pay to get it back.

But in general, he said, things have been smooth.

“The people have shown me love and respect from the beginning. I didn’t know I could get such respect,” he said.

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Source: Religion News Service