top of page
billy caso logo
Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 13.00.10.png

Episode 07


A country with over 40 regional languages and multiple traditional styles of music, made this quite an experience to dive and dig into the music culture.

Here is my sound visit to Kenya.


The Mombasa Vikings - Mama Matoya
The Rift Valley Brothers - Tiga Kurira
Sal Davis - Makini
Ndalani 77 Brothers - Nazaumi
Slim Ali & The Famous Hodi Boys - Watoto Nyara
The Rift Valley Brothers - Mu Africa
Steele Beauttah & The Limit - What's That Sound
The Famous Nyahururu Boys - Mwendwa
The Wings - Untitled
Mombasa - Al Rahman
Kalambya Boys - Kivelenge
Peter Totsi & Nashii Pichen - Pole Musa
Orchestre Vévé Star - Nitarudia

Musical History and Styles


The music of Kenya is very diverse, with multiple types of folk music based on the variety over 40 regional languages.

Zanzibaran taarab music has also become popular, as has hip hop, reggae, soul, soukous, zouk, rock and roll, funk and Europop. Additionally, there is a growing western classical music scene and Kenya is home to a number of music colleges and schools.

Traditional music

Kenya's diverse ethnic groups each have their own folk music traditions, though most have declined in popularity in recent years as gospel music became more popular. The Turkana people of the north, the Bajuni, Akamba, Borana, Chuka, Gusii, Kikuyu, Luhya and Lu, the Maasai and the related Samburu and the Mijikenda ("nine tribes") of the eastern coast are all found within the borders of Kenya.

Congolese finger-style and the development of benga

Beginning in about 1952, recordings from legendary Congolese guitarists like Edouard Massengo and Jean-Bosco Mwenda were available in Kenya. Bosco's technique of picking with the thumb and forefinger (finger-style) became popular. Finger-style music is swift and usually based around small groups, in which the second guitar follows the first with syncopated bass rhythms. This style of music became extremely popular later in the decade.

Swahili and Congolese pop

The two biggest genres of pop music played by Kenyan bands are called the swahili sound or the Congolese sound. Both are based on soukous (rumba) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Swahili music can be distinguished by a much slower rhythm, though the styles have had a tendency to merge in recent decades. The genres are not distinguished by language, though Swahili pop is usually in Swahili or the related Taiti language. Both are sometimes in Lingala or one of the native languages of Kenya.

Congolese musicians were the most popular performers in Kenya during the 1970s and 1980s, only losing their mainstream acceptance in the early 1990s. Orchestre Virunga was perhaps the most popular and long-running of the Congolese bands. During this period, Swahili musicians (many from Tanzania) were mostly based around the Wanyika bands. This group of often rival bands began in 1971 when a Tanzanian group named Arusha Jazz came to Kenya, eventually becoming the Simba Wanyika Band. The band first split in 1978, when many of the group members formed Les Wanyika. Other notable Congolese groups in Kenya included Super Mazembe and Les Mangelepa. Tanzania's Moro Band and Remmy Ongala also became quite popular in Kenya back in the 1980s. It was hard to differentiate them from the native Kenyan singers.

For more indepth information go to :

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
bottom of page