News

These Pint-Sized Musical Prodigies Are Melting Hearts in Kenya

“I don’t have a good job I can get to pay for music school, so after learning some stuff I decided to do it on my own, and also to teach my children.”

It’s not every day that you meet an African father encouraging his children to pursue a career in the arts, but BBC and Nairobi News bring to our attention one who is encouraging his young son and daughter to nurture their musical talent.


Musa Munyalo is teaching his nine-year-old daughter Esther and five-year-old son Chris how to play instruments himself in their one-bedroom apartment in Mathere North, a slum in Nairobi. It all started when Munyalo’s children would randomly sing along as he practiced his guitar.

“I don’t have a good job I can get to pay for music school, so after learning some stuff I decided to do it on my own, and also to teach my children,” Munyalo tells the BBC.

And his efforts are paying off. The duo are quickly become popular pint-sized musical prodigies in Kenya.

Chris and Esther as part of their father’s seven-member band Wahenga Wenyeji have not only performed on TV, sold out shows and teamed up with top entertainers, but they now make enough from their music gigs to offset the cost of their school fees and uniforms (could this be parenting of the future? Kids who help pay for themselves?) Their socially conscious lyrics focusing on child abuse, education and other youth issues is part of the secret sauce to their overnight success.

“I want them to inspire people and their life to change. I want this music to help them earn a living, so that they can earn a good life,” Munyalo says. “Yes, that is what I really want for them to have a happy life.”

It most definitely pays to have a shilling and dream.

Watch Chris sing “Dunia” at four-years-old, and prepare to have your heart melted.

Interview

Amadou & Mariam Forever

We talk to the legendary Malian duo about their rich past, songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities.

Amadou & Mariam don't require an introduction.

The couple has been making Afro-blues music for over 35 years, drawing inspiration from their home of Mali, for over 35 years.

Their 1999 albumSou Ni Tilé sold 100,000 copies. In 2005, their album Dimanche à Bamako won the French Victoire de la Musique prize for Best World Music Album of the year and the BBC Radio 3 Award for Africa. It also went platinum in France after selling over 300,000 copies. The duo have performed with U2, Coldplay, Blur and many others.

We caught up with them below for a conversation about their rich past, their songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities, ahead of the duo's performance at the upcoming London Jazz Festival 2021.

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