A Face-Paced African Beat
Africans can dance, without a doubt; music is part of the African culture. Hence, there are numerous genres of music around the continent. In Kenya, benga music is one genre that ruled the airwaves from 1940s to the 1960s. Just as it is the case with other genres, the discussion about the origin of benga is not conclusive, but it is widely thought to have originated from Nyanza Province.
Nyanza is home to the Luo, a Nilotic community that lives around Lake Victoria. Benga has a fast tempo that makes it exciting dance floor music. The guitarists use the finger-plucking technique that adds a distinct feel to the rhythm. Luo benga incorporates a nyatiti, which is a stringed instrument of the luo community.
Benga music did not conquer the whole population because some perceived it as of a lower class compared to other genres that were popular at the time. However, it penetrated homes, offices, schools, and became a national rhythm played in all parts of the country.
Benga Musicians in Kenya
Some of the famous stars in this genre are Princess Jully, Queen Jane, Benta Ogwe Chalre, Okatch Biggy, George Ramogi, Joseph Kamaru, Musa Olwete and Ogwang Lelo Okoth. Though benga’s popularity is waning, as more hip genres hit the airwaves, it is still a favourite for many especially in the rural areas of Western, Nyanza and Central provinces.