Profile: Makadem

Makadem, also known as the Ohanglaman is a talented musician and vibrant performing artiste from Kenya. His stage presence, charismatic persona and powerful vocal delivery, has had him likened to the legendary King of Afro Beat, Fela Kuti.

Makadem honed his performance skills by entertaining guests at the beach hotels of Mombasa, his hometown at the Kenyan coast.

By 1999, he had become a full-fledged performing artiste and went on to record and release a reggae dancehall single titled ‘Mr. Lololova.’

Years later, Makdem caught the attention of veteran afro fusion producer, Tabu Osusa. This collaboration saw Makadem successfully transform his style of music from dancehall to a fusion of Benga and Ohangla. He went on to record his debut CD titled ‘Ohanglaman’ with Tabu Osusa, which was released under Ketebul Music in 2007.

Makadem has toured extensively in Africa and Europe, performing in regional festivals like Sauti za Busara (Zanzibar), Bayimba (Uganda) and Fest’Horn (Djibouti). He has shared the stage with top international artists such as Gregory Isaacs, Mighty Culture, Glen Washington, Baba Maal, Mahotella Queens and Lokua Kanza.

Makadem received international limelight when he released a song titled ‘Obama Be Thy Name’ in support of current American President Barrack Obama, during his campaign bid in 2008. The video of the song attracted both negative and positive feedback on YouTube, and was featured by CNN during the same campaign period.

Makadem has remained one of the busiest Kenyan artists to date with regular tours of Europe organized by One World. Some of the highlights of his career include opening for Seun Kuti in Copenhagen, Denmark in October of 2011 and performing at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival in France in May of 2012.

Apart from touring, Makadem also took some time off in March of 2012 after being selected and invited by the Institut Francais for a 3 month music residency at the Cite International des Arts in Paris France. During the residency, Makadem worked on improving his Kalimba playing skills as an understudy to Angolan Kalimba maestro, Lolendo Mvulu and also spent some time working on his guitar technique with the legendary Syrian Mbenza.

In 2014, Makadem has been part of the touring trio of himself on guitar, nyatiti and vocals, bass player Isaac Gem and contemporary dancer Fernando Anuonga, presenting a show titled ‘Romo.’ He was also a headline act at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held in Washington DC in June and July of the same year.

Selected Career Highlights

  • The Rift Valley Festival, Naivasha Kenya, September 2014
  • The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington DC USA
    June 25 to July 6, 2014
  • The Kennedy Centre Millenium Stage, Washington DC USA
    July 3, 2014
  • Africa Underground, National Museum of African Art
    Washington DC USA. June 28, 2014
  • Ellis Island, NYC USA. June 21 & 22, 2014
  • Opening for Bassekou Kouyate, Arhus Denmark 2013
  • African Experience: Tour of Denmark with Blick Bassy, Sekou Kouyate, Bacissoko & Herve Samb, Copenhagen,
    Aarhus, Aalborg 2013
  • Festival Ollin Kan, Iztapalapa Mexico City, 2012
  • Cannes Film Festival, France 2012
  • Visa Pour La Creation Artistic Residency Programme
  • Cite des Art, Paris France, March to May 2012

  • Festival Nsangu Ndji Ndji, Brazaville Congo, 2012
  • Sunfest, London Ontario Canada, 2011
  • Nuits d’Afrique (Club Balatou), Montreal Canada, 2011
  • Opening for Seun Kuti, Copenhagen Denmark 2011
  • Kikwetu Festival, Nairobi Kenya, December 2010
  • Gatwich Festival, Nairobi Kenya, November 2010
  • Bayimba International Festival of Culture & Arts, Kampala Uganda, September, 2010
  • Sauti za Busara, Zanzibar February 2007 & 2010
  • Kikwetu Festival, Naivasha Kenya, December 2009
  • Festival Timitar, Agadir Morroco, July 2009
  • Sawa Sawa Festival, Nairobi Kenya, 2008 & 2009
  • Fest Horn, Djibouti 2004 & 2007
Makadem playing the Nyatiti




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Retracing Kenya’s Songs of Protest, Preview & Prelaunch Concert

Ketebul Music releases its most recent compilation in the popular ‘Retracing series.’

The Retracing Series

This latest compilation ‘Retracing Kenya’s Songs of Protest (1963-2013)’ chronicles the contribution of generations of Kenyan musicians in the movement for social and political reform.

Retracing Kenya's Songs Of Protest

It celebrates ‘protest’ music and those who make it: music that plays an important role in highlighting injustices and the visionaries whose creative spirit and sacrifice makes social change possible.

The project is supported by the Ford Foundation Office For Eastern Africa.

In conjunction with the Alliance Française, Ketebul Music will air a preview of the documentary contained in this multimedia package, which also comes with a narrative booklet and an audio CD compilation of recent protest music, at the Alliance Francaise de Nairobi gardens.

This will be followed by a concert featuring performances by Just A Band, Sarabi, Juliani, Eric Wainaina and Ohanglaman Makadem.

Just A Band



Eric Wainaina

Makadem in Ontario Canada

Makadem in Ontario Canada

This event will be hosted by John Sibi-Okumu.

Entry is absolutely FREE!

The multimedia package will be on sale at a one time special collectors introductory price of KES 1,000/= ONLY! After that, prices revert to the usual KES 3,000/= price of the Retracing Series collection.

Unsung Heroes Photo Exhibition
In the weeks preceding the launch of this multimedia package, Ketebul Music will hold a photographic exhibition at the Alliance Francaise de Nairobi lobby.

The pictures in this exhibition are a culmination of research and archiving carried out by Ketebul Music over a period of seven years as part of the Retracing Kenyan Music series.This photo exhibition, produced with the support of the Kenya Music Week, pays tribute to musicians who have shaped the various genres of music in Kenya, and influenced our social psyche over the past five decades.

One of the pictures featured in the exhibition: Gidigidi Majimaji

The “50 Years of Kenyan Music” photo exhibition made its debut at the 10th Annual KENYA MUSIC WEEK which took place at the Sarit Centre Expo Hall from; Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th December 2013 as part of Kenya @ 50 Celebrations, and plans to tour the Country for the next 12 months.


Special Offer on Retracing Kenya’s Songs Of Protest Multimedia Package!

Our latest addition to the Retracing Series of documentaries is ‘Retracing Kenya’s Songs Of Protest.’

The Retracing Series

The Retracing Series seeks to document and archive the origins and development of different music genres and themes in Kenya. Previous editions have been:
Retracing The Benga Rhythm
Retracing Kikuyu Popular Music and
Retracing Kenya’s Funky Hits.

Packaged in our usual multimedia format of print booklet, DVD documentary and audio CD compilation, a preview of Retracing Kenya’s Songs Of Protest will be aired at the Alliance Francaise de Nairobi on Friday the 31st of January. This will be folloed by a concert featuring Just A Band, Sarabi, Juliani, Eric Wainaina and our very own Makadem.


As a special offer, for that evening only, we will retail the package at a one time introductory collectors price of KES 1000/= only! After that, the price goes back to the normal price of KES 3000/=.

This is your chance to get your copy at a third of the price!

Keep it here for more updates on this and other Ketebul Music events.

Retracing Kenya's Songs of Protest Cover

Makadem @ Festival International Ollin Kan 2012 & Cannes Film Festival

By Nyakenya

With only a few weeks left before the end of his 3 months music residency in Cite international des Arts in Paris France, Makadem has had a very busy and exciting schedule.

Makadem's new look!

Earlier this month Makadem was in Mexico where he performed at the annual Festival International Ollin Kan. Makadem was accompanied on stage by the One World All Stars band which comprises of musicians from Copenhagen and Berlin.

One World All Stars

Upon his return to Paris last week, Makadem performed at the openning of the Cannes Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious and publicized international film festival, in Cannes south of France.

Makadem rehearsing for his performance at The Cannes Film festival

Makadem performing at Cannes Film Festival, Cannes France

During his stay in Paris, Makadem also had the opportunity to meet and rub shoulders with a number of dignitaries from Kenya when they visited France. They included the current Minister For Justice Hon Eugene Wamalwa and the Chairman of IEBC Mr Ahmed Isaak Hassan.

Makadem with Hon Eugene Wamalwa at the Kenyan Embassy in Paris

Makadem with Mr Isaak Hassan at the Kenyan Embassy in Paris

Makadem with Hon Jakoyo Midiwo at the Kenyan Embassy in Paris

Makadem whose residency comes to a close at the end of this month, will be returning home shortly where he will then headline at the Sawa Sawa festival.

Stay tuned for more updates on this and other stories from Ketebul Music.