Ruth First Scholar (2007-08)
Peter Okeno Ong’are is from Kenya but studied in South Africa. He graduated from North-West University (Potchefstroom) in 2007 with an Honours degree in Music & Society. He has played a leading role in a number of music-based projects at University and in the community, in Kenya and South Africa, working with children, students and teachers.
At Durham, Peter took an MA in Music (Ethnomusicology). He was a member of St Chad’s College, which supports the Ruth First Scholarship by providing subsidized accommodation. Peter established an African drumming and singing group at St Chad’s (Ngoma Vuma Uropa), which performed at a number of events in the University and around the City of Durham. He also worked with a drumming group on Teesside. His MA dissertation was on the annotation of African drumming techniques.
On completion of his MA, Peter returned to Africa. In January 2009 he returned to Durham to study for a PhD. His topic is the role of music in processes of reconciliation and healing after conflict in Rwanda. He continued to lead Ngoma Vuma Uropa and inspired a group of Durham students to set up the Korogocho School Project suporting a primary school in Nairobi. In October-November 2009, he organized a successful visit to the UK by the South African choral and drumming group Ngoma Vuma Afrika, who gave a number of performances in the University and in schools, churches and community centres around Durham, as well as in London and Kent.
Peter passed his PhD in April 2014, and returned to Kenya. He has been lecturing at St Paul’s University in Nairobi, developing courses on church music and peace building.