June 04, 2009


Reading about the influences of modern-day Kenyan music the name of John Mwale will frequently pop up. He is often cited as having been influenced by the finger-picking guitar style of Jean Bosco Mwenda and Losta Abelo (both from Katanga, Congo) who had become known through the recordings made by Hugh Tracey.

Strangely, although John Mwale is mentioned quite often, it seems hard to find any music by this Kenyan musical pioneer. All in all I know of only two (2) other songs credited to John Mwale, which are available on the Original Music CD "Before Benga Vol. 2: The Nairobi Sound"(OMCD 022).
So the fourteen on this lp can be considered to be a 'Mwale flood'...

Of Reuben Shimbiro, who features with John Mwale in this collection, I have found no mention whatsoever. I can only assume that he is responsible for the second vocal and the very creative percussion in these songs.

The songs themselves are, I am told, delightful little portraits of life in Nairobi in the late 1950s/early 1960s. They are about love, hope and the daily frustrations of River Road, Nairobi.

Here are two examples:

If there are any more songs of this wonderful duo, please let me know!

AGS LP 2008

PS: Sorry, no sleeve. In fact, I can't find a photo of these artists anywhere!


Ntwiga said...

Art for the "The Nairobi Sound" can be found at


Nothing more to share about Mwale. Will keep looking into the archives.

Anonymous said...

Listened to this 3 or 4 times this weekend, and it keeps getting better and better. MW Rebecca and Nilifika Nairobi are just a joy. A great complement to the OMCD tracks, and thanks so much.


Jonah said...

wow, astonishing stuff. thank you x1000!

another wonderful guitarist (of mwenda's generation i think) is losta abelo, whose work, like mwale's, is almost impossible to find. would you happen to have anything by him, aside from the few tracks on original-music compilations?

Adoyo PA said...

Not downloading on ADrive.com even after adding "Skipscreen for firefox". A "Mediafire link?"
Adoyo PA

hooray face said...

great stuff, thanks! your site is tops!

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I think Kenya is a great place to go on vacations, specially if you are looking for to have a relaxing trip. In my opinion, The Nairobi Sound is one of the best things ever

javieth said...
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