Benga music

Benga Music

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Benga music

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Benga is a genre of Kenyan popular music. It evolved between the late 1940s and late 1960s, in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi. In the 1940s, the African Broadcasting Service in Nairobi aired a steady stream of soukous, South African kwela, Zairean finger-style guitar and various kinds of Cuban dance music. There were also popular folk songs of Kenya's Luo and Kikuyu peoples.

Luo Benga

The Luo of Kenya have long played an eight-string lyre called nyatiti, and guitarists from the area sought to imitate the instrument's syncopated melodies. In benga, the electric bass guitar is played in a style reminiscent of the nyatiti. As late as the turn of the twentieth century, this bass in nyatiti supported the rhythm essential in transmitting knowledge about the society through music. Opondo Owenga of Gem Yala, the grandfather of Odhiambo Siangla, was known in employing music as a means of teaching history of the Luo.

In 1967, the first major benga band, Shirati Jazz, was formed by Daniel Owino Misiani. The group launched a string of hits that were East Africa's biggest songs throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Shirati Jazz's biggest rival was Victoria Jazz, formed in 1972 by Ochieng Nelly Mengo and Collela Mazee. Despite many personnel changes, Victoria Jazz remained popular throughout the 1970s, when the Voice of Kenya radio station pushed an onslaught of East African pop. Victoria C Band of Awino Lawi was one of the splinter group of Victoria Jazz.

1997 saw the death of three...
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