Tafsiri Hii! The Song That Fired Up Kenya’s Music Industry

What is in a song? Over the years, certain songs have influenced and had a major cultural and political impact on societies and served as catalysts that brought widespread change and defined historic moments. Kenya has its fair share of songs that helped define its national image and introduced the Kenyan sound to a global audience.

The Kenyan hall of fame contains Fadhili Williams, Malaika, Daudi Kabaka’s Harambee, Harambee, Them Mushrooms,Jambo Bwana, Ayub Ogada’s Koth Biro and Eric Wanaina’s Nchi ya Kitu Kidogo”.  They were songs associated with patriotism, a new identity, safe to some degree even as they pushed musical talent to new heights but in 1997, 20 years ago, one song emerged that would radically change Kenya’s urban music scene forever.

The Lusting Game

There is a story of a storeyed building that housed a restaurant and lodging facilities that caught fire. The building was engulfed in smoke and good Samaritans in the area rushed in to help put out the fire before the fire brigade arrived. To their utter surprise, they ran into stark naked couples running away from the burning building with bundles of clothes wrapped in their arms.

It was a simple choice between survival and dignity and survival won. All this occurred on a sunny Friday afternoon in Nairobi.

Of The Baron And The Lady Boys of South East Asia

 

I arrived in Vientiane the Capital city of Laos on bike from the northern Thailand town of Nong Khai. I was on an ambitious “off the beaten track” journey through parts of South East Asia along the Mekong. The Mekong river forms a natural border between the Northern Thailand and Laos.

The customs officer on the Thai side of the border kept me waiting for a long time. It seemed he had never seen a Kenyan passport. Unable to find anything wrong with the validity of the travel document, he resorted to interrogation, flanked by two mean faced colleagues. ‘Mister! which country you from?”aka must be somewhere poor! I found them more amusing than annoying and an hour later I got my departure stamp. If one is Black and not carrying an American passport Thai Immigration who do not know much about Africa assume they are Nigerian (therefore crooks).

What Happened To All The Serious Jokers?

I grew up at a time when it was impossible to go through life without picking up a nickname. The name was never a compliment. It served only as a reminder that no one was above a good roasting.

There was a guy in my high school called MC, short for MC Hammer. Not because he was a good dancer, a fashionista or had a way with the ladies. The back of his head protruded outward like a hammer.

One day someone observed, “This guy’s head is shaped like a hammer, he should be called MC Hammer”, the boys laughed and MC became one of the most popular guys in school because he did not take it personally.