Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & 80s


We love the graphic style of Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and 80s which is the latest release from Soundway Records. Soundway continues their Africa ‘Special’ series with this new release.

Spread out over two CDs and one triple LP, Kenya Special is accompanied by detailed liner notes, original artwork and photographs. It reveals a treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings from East Africa by exploring Kikuyu ‘liquid soul,’ Swahili afrobeat, to genre-bending Congolese and Tanzanian tracks recorded in Nairobi.

African Eagles band

African Eagles band

The musical landscape of 1970s Kenya was dominated by two threads of music styles – Kenyan benga and Afro-cuban rumba, which came to be interpreted by Congolese artists through visiting bands, many of whom eventually settled in the area. Benga quickly became Kenya’s unique contribution to afro-pop; with it’s 4/4 beat and intricate electric guitar layers.

This release follows on from Soundway’s ‘Africa Special’ series that has focused on the afrobeat output from 1970s Nigeria (Tunji Oyelana: A Nigerian Retrospective 1966 – 79) and Ghana (Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981).


Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981


Tunji Oyelana: A Nigerian Retrospective 1966 – 79

Kenya Special is a collection of 32 recordings (most of which were only released on small-run 45rpm 7″ singles) that stand out as being different or unique as well as some classic genre standards. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Kenya was at the time.

Painstakingly compiled, assembled and researched over two years by a team of five people from five countries (Kenya included), Kenya Special is a collection that looks beyond the mainstream and brings new life and recognition to some little known gems and forgotten classics of Kenya’s past. Ciné Kenya previously posted about Swahili Rumba when Just A Band released a rendition of Issa Juma’s song ‘Matatizo’ here.

Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and ’80s is out on April 28th (or May 20th, for vinyl). You can pre-order here.

Found this fantastic release thanks to our friends over at okayafrica.

Just A Band Inspired by Victims of Nyayo House Torture.


Kenyan musicians Just A Band released their first music video for the song ‘Matatizo’ from their latest album Sorry For The Delay.

Just A Band‘s video is inspired by those who perished and survived the Nyayo House torture and detention chambers that were in use during Daniel arap Moi’s period as president. Find out more about that here (PDF).

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Last Year’s Tragedy: Kenya’s First Metalcore Band


Last Year’s Tragedy is a band from Nairobi. They met in university and were brought together by their common musical interests. They are yet to release an album but have been producing a steady stream of popular singles. Listen to there songs at their Bandcamp site.

“Generation Light” is a plea for peace and sanity. It is inspired by the bursts of post-election violence Kenya endured in 2008 due to the presidential elections. The song calls on our generation to ” reject the petty conflict and cycles of revenge of our parents’ generation.” It’s a powerful and brutal track with brief windows of melody.

Exclusive: On Making Pegasus Warning Music Video

Exclusive: On Making Pegasus Warning Music VideoCapture10

Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu talks to OkayAfrica about artistic directing band Pegasus Warning’s sensual music video ‘Try so Hard’.

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