#Okay100Women

MUTHONI "MDQ" NDONGA

OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrates African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.

Muthoni Ndonga, otherwise known as Muthoni The Drummer Queen, aka The Bauss Lady, masterminded her musical talents out of a need to break free from the monotony of boarding school’s uniformity. She joined her school band as a means to go on tour and express herself through music. Her rise to royalty as the “Drummer Queen” lead her to become “one of the most successful event organizers in Kenya,” when a venue she performed at weekly closed its doors. The closing of those doors led to the proverbial opening of opportunity's doors when Muthoni created an avant-garde style of music concerts in Kenya called "Blankets and Wine,", which spread across the region and spurred an annual festival called "Africa Nouveau." Africa Nouveau is a two-day festival showcasing the most innovative visual artists and fashion designers.




Aside from excelling in event coordination, Muthoni is infamous in Nairobi’s dance scene for her flashy style and fierce lyrics. In the video for "Mikono Kwenye Hewa" from her album The Human Condition it is clear that many monikers are well deserved.



The music mogul in the making has an album dropping in 2017, and a thought-provoking single "Kenyan Message," is out now.



—MB

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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