Many historians and musicologists agree that the cradle of the Benga genre of Kenya popular music is Nyanza province in western Kenya.
This region is home to the fishing community of Luo-speaking people, many of whom live around Lake Victoria—known locally as Nyanza. Lake Victoria straddles the three East African countries—Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania—covering an area of over 68,000 square kilometers.
Today, Benga music is played across a fair share of Kenya—from the lake shores in the west, across the vast floor of the Rift Valley to the slopes of the imposing 5,199 metre Mount Kenya and into the plains of eastern Kenya.
Benga’s most distinctive feature is its fast-paced rhythmic beat and bouncy finger-picking guitar technique. Indeed, the core of benga is the lead guitar, which essentially follows the track of the vocals. Without exception, the singing is at some point separated from the climax—the instrumental expanse that combines three or four guitars and percussions.
Rhumba: Ochieng Kabaselleh was the first artist to pop up in the Rhumba scene in Kenya along with Gabriel Omollo & Juma Toto. Other artists such as Mazadijo, Jamnazi Afrika’s Milton Ongoro, Musa Juma and his brother Omondi Tony, and the current sensation John Junior and Igwe Prezda Bandason also have contributed. More info can be found here (
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