Ochieng’ Nelly

Profile: Ochieng’ Nelly

Ochieng’ Nelly was born Nelson Ochieng Orwa in 1943 in South Nyanza. He began playing the guitar in his teenage years after being taught and inspired by the pioneering Congolese Musician Adolf Banyore.

Ochieng’ Nelly got his first guitar in 1961. He travelled widely through Uganda, Congo and other African countries. He was widely exposed to Congolese guitar playing styles. He developed his own unique playing style that was later a big influence to the sound of The Ogara Boys Band, and Benga music in general.

Nelly worked with his Congolese mentor for a while before joining The Ogara Boys Band in 1962. The Ogara Boys Band consisting of founding member John Ogara Odondi and Aketch Oyosi was formed in 1960. Together the trio started and developed a unique sound that got the name Benga, in 1963.

In 1966, Nelly left Ogara Boys Band to pursue his career elsewhere. He briefly collaborated with another Benga legend, George Ramogi.

Ochieng’ Nelly has produced several songs such as: Monica Abio, Ombua Akelo, Celestine Juma, Samuel Aketch among others.His story is featured extensively in the Ketebul Music produced documentary: Retracing The Benga Rhythm.

Despite his old age and having a limp he got after a rad accident, Ochieng’ Nelly remains a very active musician playing a regular venue three times a week in Nairobi’s South B estate. He has also recorded an eleven track CD consisting of some of his old hits and new songs at Ketebul Music Studios. The CD recording also features collaborations with his peer from his Ogara Boys days, Aketch Oyosi.

Through Ochieng’ Nelly’s music, the legend of Beng of the yester years, still lives on.

Ochieng' Nelly

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Events

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15
Jan
2019

Ketebul Music: Statement on CNN’s Inside Africa program



During the first week of January 2019, the Inside Africa program by CNN featured two Kenyan musicians: Olith Ratego and Ogoya Nengo. Although the program was captivating, it fell far short of the mark of excellence required for journalistic research.

According to the program, the two artistes were discovered in their respective villages and their genres of music (Dodo and Ohangla) introduced to the world for the first time by Kenyan DJ Suraj and South African producer Emile Hoogenhout.

The facts in the program were blatantly incorrect, as both artistes have been recording and are contracted to Ketebul Music since 2004; hence they are not the village- trapped musicians they were purported to be. Olith and Ogoya are among the most traveled artistes in Kenya through musical tours arranged by Ketebul Music, Jojo Records and Planet Rock (Berlin, Germany).

The year 2005 saw Ogoya initial international exposure when she was introduced by Ketebul Music to Opiyo Okach, a Kenyan mime dancer based in Montpellier (France). The two paired up that same year and extensively toured continental Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

Furthermore, viewers of the program were made to believe that the two musicians were being introduced to electronic music for the first time by the two DJs. That impression was false since both Olith and Ogoya have previously recorded experimental electro-dance music with Ketebul Music back in 2004, under music producer Gabriel Omondi.

It is therefore imperative that Suraj and Emile should conduct due diligence as to who the holders of the copyright are, before sampling their musical works. Ogoya and Olith have also worked with German musicians Stefan Schneider and Sven Kacirek on a project titled; The Kenya Sessions, released on Pingipung label on 7 July 2011.

This musical endeavor featured in The New York Times edition of 22 March 2011 on the subject: Next generation of partnerships between Western labels and African artists.

Presently, Olith and Sven are working on an electronic album, Odd Okoddo, to be released later this year; not to mention his recording with No-Nation, an independent record label based in the UK.

In 2009, ‘Matatu’ by Ogoya, produced by Ketebul Music was featured on the French label Marabi Africa vol. 2, and another of her songs ‘S.M. Otieno’ was part of a compilation put together by the Norwegian label Kirkelig Kulturverksted.

The producers of Inside Africa gullibly took it that the talking head on the program was an authority in the musical genres of the Luo people of Western Kenya. The illusion created is highly disingenuous because Mwalimu Greg Tendwa, although a music enthusiast and DJ is not an expert on traditional music of that region.

CNN was further duped its viewers into believing that they were making news by being the first to record in Ogoya’s homestead. To the contrary, Ketebul Music and its partners Abubilla Music Foundation, through the Singing Wells program, visited the village on 28 November 2011 and recorded Olith and Ogoya with their percussionist Oloo Maombo, at the very same location.

Olith and Ogoya admitted that they were not fully aware of what they were being interviewed for and, as neither is fluent in English, there was obviously a communication breakdown given that their management team at Ketebul Music were kept in the dark.

Ketebul Music appreciates efforts by CNN and would like to encourage other international media platforms who are interested in supporting and promoting all forms of Kenyan music to do so.

However, credibility is the hallmark of journalism. Therefore, a respected network such as CNN ought to have consulted an ethno-musicologist with the requisite knowledge of the landscape of Kenya’s diverse music traditions before broadcasting that episode of Inside Africa.

Tabu Osusa

Founding Executive Director, Ketebul Music



Below is an abridged list of European festivals and concerts at which Olith and Ogoya have performed: 

2007

  • Zanzibar Sauti Za Busara

2015

  • Hamburgsund, Clandestino Botnik Festival (Sweden)
  • Nasaker Urkult (Sweden)
  • Bruxelles Recyclart (Belgium)
  • Wuppertal Café Simonz (Germany)
  • Hamburg Stubnitz (Germany)
  • Berlin Sommerloft (Germany)
  • Praha Palac Akropolis (Czech Republic)
  • Katowice Off Festival (Poland)

2016

  • Eberswalde Jazz (Germany)
  • Wuppertal Sommerloch (Germany)
  • Eupen Junglingshaus (Germany)
  • Brussel Ancienne Belgique (Germany)
  • Dusseldort Kit Café (Germany)
  • Koln Stadtgarten (Germany)
  • Utrecht Moira (Netherlands)
  • Weikersheim Club W71 (Germany)
  • Leipzig Fruhauf (Germany)
  • Berlin Kiezsalon (Germany)
  • Glass Glad Café (UK)
  • Bradford Delius Arts and Culture Centre (UK)
  • London Café OTO (UK)
  • Hamburg New Hamburg Festival (Germany)
  • Hamburgsund Clandestino Botnik Festival (Sweden)
  • Nasaker Urkult (Sweden)
  • Bruxelles Recyclart (Germany)
  • Hamburg Stubnitz (Germany)
  • Berlin Sommerloft (Germany)

2017

  • Berlin Luftus Hall (Germany)
  • Dusseldorf Carhartt WIP Stage (Germany)
  • Lisboa Jardim da Bibiotecandos Coruscheus (Portugal)
  • Coimbra Salao (Brazil)

 

Olith Ratego

Ogoya Nengo

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24
May
2018

Sauti za Busara 2019 Call for Artist Application

The 16th Sauti za Busara, one of Africa’s top music festivals, is scheduled to take place in Stone Town, Zanzibar during 7 – 10 February 2019.
Sauti za Busara showcases diverse, original and live music from across the African Continent and diaspora. Artists representing music from the Arab World and Indian Ocean are also welcomed to apply
The Call for Artists is open only until 31st July 2018. Follow the link below for application details:

Sauti za Busara 2019 Application

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18
Jul
2017

Shades of Benga: The Story of Popular Music in Kenya

We recently released our long awaited publication, Shades of Benga: The Story of Popular Music in Kenya 1946 -2016. The 652 page book was launched at an event preceded by a photo exhibition, of pictures extracted from the book, at the Alliance Française de Nairobi on 12 July 2017.

Tabu Osusa and Ford Foundation East Africa Office Representative Maurice Makoloo

Tabu Osusa and Ford Foundation East Africa Office Representative Maurice Makoloo

Tabu Osusa and John Githongo

Stefano Sita Nne of Ketebul Music and Dave Omari of Eklektiks

Stefano Sita Nne of Ketebul Music and Dave Omari of Eklektiks

This was followed by a presentation by the books principal authors, Ketebul Music Founding Director Tabu Osusa and Bill Odidi. They discussed the concept behind the book and gave an overview on topics covered in the 14 chapter publication.

Peter Akwabi, Bill Odidi and Tabu Osusa

The launch culminated with performances by some of the pioneering musicians whose profiles can be found in the book: John Nzenze & Peter Akwabi, and Ochestre Les Mangelepa.

John Nzenze, Lucy Ilado and Peter Akwabi

Orchestre Les Mangelepa

Shades of Benga: The Story of Popular Music in Kenya delves into the foundations of modern Kenyan music, examining external influences from the English waltz to Afro Cuban Rumba and how they helped mould new music styles across Africa. Rumba was brought to Eastern Africa via the itinerant Congolese musicians Edouard Masengo and Jean Bosco Mwenda who’s intricate guitar-picking styles largely shaped the present Kenyan sound, with the Benga playing a dominant role.

Currently, you can get advance copies from Ketebul Music Studios or place your order.
#shadesofbenga
#legendarykenyans