Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not music, but still interesting.

Talk given at the TED conference by the beautiful and brilliant author of Half of a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck, and Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Adichie. She discusses what she calls "the danger of a single story."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Karibu Ya Bintou

I just wanted to share this great video I came across today. It's titled "Karibu Ya Bintou" ("Welcome to life in limbo"). The song is off the album "Kinshasa Succursale" by Baloji and features the incredible Konono N°1 on likembe (if you haven't heard of Konono N°1, I highly recommend you check them out-their album Congotronics is amazing). The video was shot in the streets of Kinshasa. Enjoy!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Kamba Benga

So it has certainly been a while since my last post. I have been a bit lazy (and busy), you'll have to forgive me.

Anyway, today's post is on the Kenyan style of music known as benga. More specifically, the benga made by the Akamba of south-central Kenya. But first, a little background on benga is appropriate. Benga is not actually a Kamba creation, it was originally developed by Luo musicians in the area around Lake Victoria in western Kenya sometime during the 60s. Before I go any further, here is a song by one of the pioneers of benga music, Daniel Owino Misiani (aka "the grandfather of benga") and his band, Shirati Jazz. He sings in Dholuo and Kiswahili. The song is called Piny Ose Mer.

It didn't take long for benga to catch on among other groups in Kenya and pretty soon benga was being produced by groups like the Kikuyu, Akamba, etc. I have had the most exposure to Kamba benga, so that will be the type of benga I present here. Most of the songs in this post are originally from the blog Likembe. Likembe is one of my favorite resources for all types of African music, I highly recommend that you check it out.

Peter Mwambi - Matatu

Peter Mwambi - Mueni

Peter Mwambi, Charles Mutiso, & Kyanganga Boys Band - Mwenyenyo

Peter Mwambi, Charles Mutiso, & Kyanganga Boys Band - Beatrice

The Kalambya Boys - Eka Nzasu

The Kalambya Boys - Mwendwa Losi

Finally, to give you an idea of another type of music popular in Kenya around the same time, here is a song by a band called Super Wanyika. They play a Kenyan style of rumba that is directly influenced by the Congolese style known as Soukous (see posts below for more on the relationship between Congo and Kenya). The two lead members of the band are actually Tanzanians and Super Wanyika is an offshoot of an earlier project of theirs called Simba Wanyika, meaning "Lions of the Savannah" in Kiswahilli. Simba Wanyika and its two offshoots, Super Wanyika and Les Wanyika, were some of the most popular bands in Kenya in the late 70s and early 80s. They sang in Kiswahilli, a language understood and used by the vast majority of Kenyans. This made their music more accessible than most Kamba benga, which is usually in Kikamba, a language used only by the Akamba.

Super Wanyika - Nimesha-Kwambia