Killenge Gatkek: Music and Conflict; the Art of Sustaining Balance

By Gatkeng Tutlam,

Photo handout by the United Nations(Photo credits: UNAMID)

Photo handout by the United Nations(Photo credits: UNAMID)

August 2, 2015(Nyamilepedia) —- To Nyamilepedia readers, Killenge is new, but to thousands of south Sudanese both at home and in abroad he is a great singer who moves multitude in the hall. Inspired by Chris Brown and Teddy Afro, he probably get that habit of slow music to twist the lover boy’s beat of preaching joy and happiness to girls he meet in the streets. Though he is shy, there is this other side of him who never rest, the other side of a man yearning to achieve his dreams. His name is Duer Gatkek Tut son to famous Chief, Gatkek Tutlam from Wanding, brother to late Upper Nile governor Thomas Tutlam who perished in an airplane crush back in 1997 in Nasir.

For folks who are familiar with Duer Gatkek Tut, he is a slim boy who adored wearing old school caps, that new type of Young Money. White teeth and brown eyes, Killenge, meaning an AK47 in Nuer vernacular turned out to be a musician back in 2009 on a controversial episode when his girlfriend was snatched away from him by an athletic boy who pretends to be a singer. That was back in Nasir, south Sudan when he was merely 13 years old. Killenge wanted to fight but was afraid of losing his tooth. That boy was an athletic type who is known of playing karate by the village girls and no one questioned him. The would be super star singer let go of his spirit. It was one of the worse days for Killenge. He promised to go for more practice in the future if things go well.

The young boy would cry the whole night. Nothing else to turns to but begun to sing songs in haphazard manner that forced his mother to throw him out and spent a night at his uncle’s place. His loved for music set in motion. He would chant many songs of Gordon Koang Duoth the legendary south Sudanese singer until he felt satisfied. A bright holding unto a dark future would later be a star of podium that excites both his haters and resembling. All the odds proven, a bad beginning makes a happy ending.

I met Killenge as many loved to call him week ago to discuss something about his music. He talks to me about much he wanted to do in the future. His music, school and too many other things on the note pad loiter in amazement, written with careful suggestion and selectively identified. He sound like a traffic visionary singer deeply interested to do a lot for his fans. Fame signify everything to Killenge, but one thing he felt he can never tolerate; Idleness. He is kind a hustler who works hard to make sure he is back to the studio whenever a new tone hit his mind. He is a peculiar song writer based on events, situation and experience.

“I loved everything I do about music. This is part of my life and I am just doing it because I think I deserve to do something better to entertain people.” He announced to confine my attention to the topic.

His music is inspired by cultural correction and sympathy. A star of his own in a low music industry of south Sudan were artists lavish a lot in the studios, releasing hit songs and made no cash. This rise question, “why hit songs and no money? The system here is built to familiarize the audiences before buying their interest not like in the West where you just impress the fans already thirst to hear new things and thousands turnout for a show. Killenge lives where entertainment is not a constitutional right like in Brazil but an option consider with clear message the singer is sending. In the West, bla bla bla would make you millions of dollar but things aren’t they sound down here. Yet the persistence young man hopes things would definitely change in the near future.

“We actually don’t make money but some of us cannot just give up because of not making money.” Yeah, I know, working hard while getting nothing translate preferences, persistence, hope and the famous saying, “never give up“ the fight.

“But we pursued our dream of becoming better musicians anyway”.  He admitted the hardship and need to continue with what he loved the most.

Many south Sudanese artists indeed dispense thousands of hard cash for the cause of their music. Shockingly, the current crisis in south Sudan just fueled their search for glory and fans. Despite making whatever it take for his music to reach the desire test, Killenge is a soft spoken young man who is shy to associates with girls. Well familiar of what many would describe Blues and Rnb in his music, some of his love songs made it into women’s kitchens and girls cars while thousands used them as ringtones. Children sing them in the streets of Gambella, Addis Ababa and back home in Nasir, which is a good a sight of popularity. Not making it to Vevo like south Sudanese rapper in Australia, Nyuon for his hit song, “Your City” or Mc Ghetto with his latest song Mony e Nyiir, Killenge still holding unto his faith. The class of Emmanuel Jal is not easily reach but he must move on.

“I believed one day I will make it despite all the odds. This is what I am good at and I must do whatever it takes to make sure I produce good music so I can get a chance of making it into the International arena.” He paused hopefully. Asked him why he is shy unlike many musicians.

“I am afraid of them. And I cannot explain why.”

Born in Wanding, south Sudan a small village outside miles away from Nasir town bordered Western Ethiopia via Bureyie. Killenge grew up back in the day as kid who perceived wearing shoes is not logical. He was afraid of cars and would speculate how they are made. Familiar with soldiers and military equipment, he remembered one night being scared to hell by a sound of gunship. He escaped to Ethiopia he never went back home until 2009. Now 24 years looking into future with doubt and hopes, nothing is better than pursuing his dreams and at the same time his music. He is 3rdyear student of Economic at Ambo University. Tore apart by school, music and Conflict; the Art of Sustaining Balance.

“Some people think, musicians cannot do anything else. They think singers don’t really like being in school. I am proud to be a 3rd year student at Ambo University doing Bachelor degree in Economic despite the crisis back home in south Sudan.”

The young musician is ready to face the dark future hoping the two warring parties in south Sudan conflict could sign peace this month to start a new life.

Recently Kenye West earned a doctorate in Art, Dr. Kenye or Kenye West in short? Their education as an identity is solid by stages and popularity they gained through their nick names in the music industry and everything else became useless like trying everything considered illusion, man to man business. Furthermore, Killenge want to move and does his master in Economic a dream he held unto his spirit since childhood. Now, loyalty divided, he either stick to music or work as a commercial seller in a big business and risk being hired by the government dropping all thing together.

“Ca Duer” released in 2012 meaning, “I am sorry” is a love song used by almost everyone in south Sudan who mess their relationship a midst of temptations and confusion. There is that one song in music industry which made a certain musician famous, and Ca Duer really did Killenge a great deal of favor. He is the hit singer of “Ca Gac”. Loosely translates, “I wonder” he couldn’t believed how far he made it over. “Julia” is one song in his Album Ca Duer which I heard in one of the Ambassador’s wife cell phone as a ringtone.

The down breaking blues singer was planning a tour to Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala Uganda to launch his new Album but didn’t reveals when the tour kick on. His new Album, “Ca gatbul kene maan” (a child was burnt and the mother) content some of the best songs ever. “Nyami catney (a girl we resemble), “Ci han adungdu” (I am yours) featured Nyapal Lul Yual and “Mama” is making it to the next level.

Nyapal Lul a south Sudanese female singer she is currently in Australia for a tour. Now three years in the music industry, the young star will be shooting his first Album later this year.

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