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Shades of Benga

This book is dedicated to the session musicians of Nairobi’s River Road: the multi-instrumentalists who
recorded hits in the 1970s and 80s for benga music stars from the various regions and communities
across Kenya.

Top on the list are Berry Guya, George Onyango Nzoi aka ‘Professor Ondiek’, Vincent ‘Redman’ Bunde,
Onyango ‘Lord’ Lodwa, Juma Othech, Okech Ombasa, Odongo Manila, Steven Sakwa, Willy Owacha,
John Kitoyi, Peter Owino Rachar and Osumba Rateng’.

Although these musicians devised the drum patterns and guitar riffs that became the definitive benga
sound across eastern Africa, sadly, they have been relegated to the dustbins of history with hardly any
mention of them in the mainstream media. They are not even acknowledged by the very people they helped mold into superstars.

These gifted artistes received relatively small one-off payments and did not benefit from royalties generated through performance rights. The majority of them died in abject poverty.

At Ketebul Music we suffer no such amnesia and would like to seize this opportunity to pay tribute to the
forgotten drummers and guitar legends who shaped the benga rhythm.
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