East African Music - African Radio

Swahili & Lingala Rumba

Les Wanyika

Image of CD cover:  Amigo

Clifford Lugard Productions CLP001

One of the most creative bands on the Kenyan scene since 1978, John Ngereza's Les Wanyika band has finally broken through with a CD release.  It's mix of old and new songs, all recently recorded.  The old numbers include such famous tunes as Sina Makosa, Pamela, Paulina, Afro, Nimaru.  This is classic Swahili rumba with the great guitar interweve and some very cool horn/sax combinations.  For those interested in the sound of the original mixes, see Kenya Dance Mania, below. Sadly, rhythm guitarist and composer Omari Shabani (Professor Omari) passed away in February 1998, just before the release of this CD.

More information on Amigo

Simba Wanyika Original

Image of Wimba Wanyika CD:  Pepea

Kameleon Records KMLN CD 01

Recorded in Holland, this 1992 CD release is probably the best representation of the later SWO sound. The name Kameleon Records is a twist on the Kinyonga brothers' family name which, in Swahili, means "chameleon."

Kenya Vol. 1

African Music Gallery AMG003 (LP only)

Some of their best music on an excellent recording (but compare the Nairobi release of "Baba Asiya" by Orchestra Jobiso for an interesting contrast).


This is a mystery group to me. Aside from the knowledge that they have seven members and come from the Kenya coast, they are virtually anonymous to Nairobi and other places upcountry.

Image of CD cover:  Original Zengela Band
Original Zengela Band

Kelele, Germany

This is great little CD, most of it in the classic Swahili rumba style. Great interlocking guitars and bass meshing with flowing rhythmic grooves. In this, Zegela shares a kinship with the Wanyika groups. However, a couple of the tunes are reminiscent of that great era of the Equator Sound Band (also a good thing). The production is first-rate. My only problem with this CD is that the songs are too short and too subdued. All in all, it’s rather tame. The producers should have let those guitarists loose to do some damage!

More information on Original Zengela

To contact Douglas Paterson, send email to DPaterson@EastAfricanMusic.com.

Last updated November 14, 1998.

East African Music - African Radio

Copyright 1998 Douglas B. Paterson, All Rights Reserved.