Ateliers du Monde: Reviving The Accordion In Popular East African Music

By Stefano

During our recent concluded and published research on Benga and Kikuyu popular music we noted the remarkable influence of the accordion on East African Music of the 60’s and the 70’s. Accordionists shaped the successive development of music genres such as Benga and Mwomboko during the ‘accordion golden age’ in East Africa.

Waganangu, veteran mwomboko accordionist

HM Kariuki, one of the pioneering accordionists of Kikuyu popular music

The veteran master players of the accordion comprised of World War 2 returnees and Christian missionaries. The returnees passed down the culture to the second generation artists (sons and friends) who at the same time were caught up with the popularity of new acoustic sounds such as the keyboard and synthetic sounds made in modern studios.

The use of the accordion has since declined with minimal traces of its use in East Africa. Although it is used extensively in Taarab music in Zanzibar, very few musicians still incorporate it in their repertoire in Kenya and Uganda.

Tausi Women's Taarab Group from Zanzibar. The accordion is used extensively in Taarab music from Zanzibar (Pic by Robin Batista)

Ketebul Music has identified this gap and has organized a comparative master class in African music that will endeavor to revive the use of the accordion in East African music. The five-day residential master class will comprise of a creative workshop for East African artistes drawn from Kenya, Zanzibar and Uganda and facilitated by Viviane Arnoux, an expert accordionists from France.

Vivane Arnoux

French acordionist Vivane Arnoux will facillitate the workshop

Our research has shown that accordion playing is popular in France (Mussette) and the African participants will highly benefit from the European discourse (origin of folk accordion music). Mombasa based Kenyan singer Nyota Ndogo, will also take part in the creative workshop.

Kenyan Taarab singer, Nyota Ndogo

Other invited participants in the workshop are:

  • Godfrey Lubuulwa of Baxmba Waves from Kampala Uganda – Accordionist
  • Tatu Amour & Tawadudi Khalid of Tausi Womens Taarab Group from Zanzibar – Accordion
  • Emmanuel Maina resident musician at the Bomas of Kenya – Accordion
  • George Achieng’ of Kenge Kenge Orutu System – Accordion
  • Mohamed Adio a veteran Taarab musician from Mombasa – Tashkota
  • Mohamed Awadh a veteran violinist and Taarab musician from Mombasa – Violin
  • Mbarak Ali Haji of Lele lele Afrika band from Mombasa – Harmonium & Keyboards
  • Etienne Mangala Ramadhan (Bishop), Nairobi based session musician and performing artist – Bass
  • Eddie Grey, guitarist, composer, producer and performing jazz artist – Guitars
  • Kaboge Chagalla of Talking Drums from Nairobi – Percussion

The masterclass and workshop will be held at the Alliane Francaise de Nairobi from the 20th to the 24th of August.

As part of the creative workshop the artists will present their new creations at a musical concert dubbed ‘Reviving the Accordion’ to be held at Alliance de Française de Nairobi on the 24th of August 2012.

Reviving The Accordion Concert Featuring Viviane Arnox & Nyota Ndogo

This project is funded by the Institut Francais as part of their Ateliers Du Monde 2012 programme, and supported by the Allince Francaise de nairobi and Brussels Airlines.

For more details on institut Francais CLICK HERE

For Information on Viviane Arnoux CLICK HERE

For updates on the workshop, follow us on facebook HERE


Benga Blues: Sign Up For Advance Copies

By Nyakenya
Benga Blues by Winyo is set to be released soon. You can sign up for advance copies of the CD by calling us on (+254) 720 561 198 or send us an email on info@ketebulmusic.org. The CD will then be delivered to you personally on release.

Thank you very much for being part of the Ketebul Music family, The Home of Real Music.

NOTE: Delivery will only be done to City Center and close environs. You can also collect your advance copies from Ketebul Music Studios at The Godown Arts Centre

Click Here To Like Winyo’s Facebook Page

Featured picture by Stefano

Benga Blues Promo

Fusing Cultures: East African Taarab, Danish Classical Music and Latin Afro Cuban Rhythms

By Stefano

Ketebul Music is currently running a creative music workshop dubbed Fusing Cultures. The workshop funded by a grant from the Danish Culture Fund, DANIDA, and executed by Sarakasi Trust will focus on Taarab music from the Kenyan Coast. Taarab music is popular among the coastal communities of East Africa. Taarab music encompasses an integral part of the East African coastal culture that is a blend of Arabic, African, European and Indian culture.

The project is aimed at promoting fusion of Danish and Kenyan musical cultures as well as builds the capacity of percussionists in Kenya.

Ketebul Music has invited three musicians and performing artists from Denmark and Kenya who will act as facilitators of the workshop. The musicians invited are;

Kim Jezus: A Danish accordion player, performer, actor and rhythm educator. Kim will be the lead facilitator of the Fusing Cultures workshop.

Kim Jezus

Nyota Ndogo: A Mombasa based, Kenyan singer who performs Taarab and Taarab influenced pop music.

Nyota Ndogo

Yohanier Ramon: A Danish based Cuban percussionist who is much sought after in the Latin music scene.

Yohanier Ramon

Participants for the workshop are Taarab musicians and percussionists drawn from Nairobi and Mombasa.

The workshop, which is being held at the Godown Arts Centre, started on the 4th of June and will run through to the 8th of June. A culmination of the workshop will be a performance at the Sawa Sawa festival 2012 by the participants of the workshop featuring their facilitators Kim Jezus, Nyota Ndogo and Yohanier Ramon. The group going under the name Taarab Fusion will showcase material developed during the five-day creative workshop.

Ketebul Music would like to invite you all to be a part of this exciting and innovative project by attending the Sawa Sawa Festival at the Carnivore grounds on the 10th of June 2012.

For more pictures and day to day updates on the Fusing Cultures workshop, visit our Facebook page HERE.

For information on the Sawa Sawa Festival, click HERE.

For information on Sarakasi Trust and the Danish Culture Fund, click HERE.


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.


Lake Turkana Festival 2012

By Stefano

In 2011, Ketebul Music under the Singing Wells Project visited Loiyangalani for the Lake Turkana Festival. We recorded music from the different communities that paticipated in the festival, namely the Samburu, the Turkana, the Rendille, the El Molo and the Dassanach.


El Molo




As a follow uo to that visit, Ketebul Music was again in Loiyangalani for the 2012 edition of the festival. With the support of the Gernman Embassy in Nairobi, we pressed and packaged 100 CDs containing 10 songs from the 5 communites recorded in last years festival. The Cds were presented to the communities during this years festival in an effort to promote better inter tribal relations through music.

The CD compilation of music recorded at the Lake Turkana Cultural festival in 2011

Ketebul Music personnel were also accompanied by members of Gravity band, who backed up the 5 communities on stage during festival.

Gravity band

Over a period of two days, Gravity Band rehearsed with the Turkana, the Dassanach, the El Molo and the Samburu in preparation for their performance at the 2012 festival. The performance dubbed ‘Stars Of The Lake’ would also feature Bonaya Doti from Marsabit who tohetherwith his community of the Konso were making their first appearance at the festival.

Bonaya Doti from Marsabit rehearsing with Gravity band.

Patrick recording the rehearsals in Loiyangalani

Stefano working with the band and the groups during rehearsals

For more pictures following Ketebul Music personnel throuhg this visit, log on to Ketebul Music’s facebook page here

For mofe on The Lake Turkana Festival 2012 follow this link.

Featured photos by Stefano Sita Nne

Loiyangalani Stars

R.I.P Frank Odoi

By Stefano
Frank Odoi, the renown cartonist, best known for his Akokhan comic series, died on Saturday, April 21, in a bus accident.

As we mourn the passing of a great artist and a son of Africa, let us remember the intrigue, laughter, and debates that his art provoked in us.

Apart from entertaining us, Frank Odoi, through his art, was a champion for social change, and for that, we humbly pay our respects.

“Where grass hass grown, grass will always grow..”
Frank Odoi.

The late Frank Odoi, who was known for his Ako Khan cartoon series.
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