Husband and Wife: Italy based Kenyan duo releases patriotic song
As this year’s General Election set for August 8 approaches, politicians may be taking centre stage, but musicians are not being left behind, as they reach out to the protagonists with peace messages through what they do best – singing.
Music has always been part and parcel of politics, as a vehicle for praising leaders and for entertainment during campaign rallies.
The latest melodious entry into the Kenyan political fray with a plea for love and harmony is an Italy-based Kenyan group, Afreeka Band.
Last week, the duo, one part of whom is from Them Mushrooms music dynasty, released a track titled “Amani, Upendo na Umoja”, that exhorts fellow Kenyans to ensure that peace prevails during the election campaigns, polling and after.
Afreeka, the husband and wife duo made up of Big Cat and Lioness, is just one of foreign-based Kenyan artistes keenly following events back home.
In the song, Afreeka call on Kenyans to exercise restraint during the election period.
Speaking to Saturday Nation earlier this week, Lioness (Hannah Wakesho) said the build-up to the forthcoming elections was a source of concern to them over the possibility of the country descending into violence as has happened in the past.
“Though we are based outside Kenya, we have been following the developments back home and are concerned about our country’s future,” she said.
Big Cat (Henry Harrison) is the son to the legendary Teddy Kalanda Harrison of Them Mushrooms Band. Likewise, Lioness was also inspired into music by her father, Captain Crispin Nyangala.
“We both grew up in musical families,” said Lioness.
Afreeka, which specialises in the afro-reggae genre, is an offshoot of the Big Matata Band, which was one of the most popular reggae live bands in Nairobi in the late 1990s.
“We chose the Afreeka name to align ourselves with our mother continent of Africa,” she explains.
In Italy, Afreeka have been curtain raisers during performances by General Levy, Mykal Rose and Gentleman, Festa te le Mieru (Carpigano Salentino) and Festa di Birra.
During the early part of their career in Italy, the band released songs such as More Love and Back to Africa, which were not only popular online but also during concerts.
In 2008, they released a mixed CD compilation, Piu Amore, with the follow-up Voce della Drago in 2009. In June 2010, they released an album, Summer Jamming.They released another single last November titled Universal Love, which is available in digital stores and on YouTube.
Afreeka is following in the patriotic footsteps of other groups with big Kenyan songs, such as Kenya Nchi Yangu by the legendary Ukambani musician Kakai Kilonzo and Harambee Harambee by the ‘twist’ maestro Daudi Kabaka in the late 1960s.
Other seminal patriotic songs include My Land is Kenya by Kenyan international superstar Roger Whittaker, Tushangilie Kenya by Mwalimu Thomas Wasonga, Daima by Eric Wainaina and Mungu Baba by Rufftone.
The song Mungu Baba, played in a contemporary reggae beat, has captivating video scenes featuring GSU police officers.
As Lioness noted, political campaigns have already begun heightening emotions and it is time Kenyans from all walks of life to showed restraint.
“Like most of our fellow Kenyan artistes, we have chosen to use music as a medium to promote patriotism as we wouldn’t want to experience