Shades of Benga - The Story of Popular Music in Kenya 1946-2016
This book is dedicated to the session musicians of Nairobi’s River Road: the multi-instrumentalists who recorded hits in the 1970s and 80s for benga music stars from the various regions and communities across Kenya.
Top on the list is Berry Guya, George Onyango Nzoi aka ‘Professor Ondiek’, Vincent ‘Redman’ Bunde, Onyango ‘Lord’ Lodwa, Juma Othech, Okech Ombasa, Odongo Manila, Steven Sakwa, Willy Owacha, John Kitoyi, Peter Owino Rachar and Osumba Rateng’.
Although these musicians devised the drum patterns and guitar riffs that became the definitive benga sound across eastern Africa, sadly, they have been relegated to the dustbins of history with hardly any mention of them in the mainstream media.
They are not even acknowledged by the very people they helped mold into superstars. These gifted artists received relatively small one-off payments and did not benefit from royalties generated through performance rights. The majority of them died in abject poverty.
At Ketebul Music we suffer no such amnesia and would like to seize this opportunity to pay tribute to the forgotten drummers and guitar legends who shaped the benga rhythm.