Sounds Like a Pandemic?

The entire world is at this moment in the grip of the greatest global crisis of the 21st century – the Covid-19 disease outbreak. The highly contagious and deadly nature of the virus has led to nations and communities implementing unprecedented measures to limit human movements and interactions in varyingly effective strategies of controlling the spread of the virus. Needless to say, these measures have had a disruptive effect on practically all human activity at the moment, with widespread speculation on their impact on long term social, political, economic and ecological order at local and global scale.

The city of Nairobi is one of Africa’s most vulnerable locations, based on its situation as an international transport hub, and is currently implementing a fairly strict containment approach, with immediate impact on the usual patterns of activity and being. The Sound of Nairobi holds that much information about a place and its people can be learnt by documenting the sounds of its environment and activity. This moment of Covid-19 presents an opportunity to gather and document knowledge about the effects of the pandemic and the consequent containment program from a unique data source – sound – to complement other data gathering activities likely being carried out.

Sounds like a Pandemic explores the sonic traces of the Covid-19 virus in the soundscape of Nairobi through 3 recording periods ( May/June 2020, August/September 2020, December 2020/January 2021).

Listen to the recordings (so far) in the archive here.

Musicians, authors and academics from East Africa are invited to reflect on the field recordings and explore the impact of the virus on the auditory landscape of the city of Nairobi.

Check out the writings by Lutivini Majanja (Landi Mawe), Kamwangi Njue (liner notes: towards a possibility and eastleigh usilie)  and Bethuel Muthee (The Sound of Memory).

Many thanks to the recordists, who wander the streets in this times of crisis: Alacoque Ntome, Anita Kavochy, Kevo Stero, Alex Kanji, Lutivini Majanja, Brian Muhia, Waringa Wagema, Kamwangi Njue, George Gakaria, Joy Ruguru, Otieno Gomba. 

The project is funded by the Goethe Institute Nairobi.