News Brief

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.


7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

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