Members of Les Wanyika band. [Standard]

After nearly 24 years of silence, Les Wanyika has announced its return. The famous East African band was originally made up of Tanzanian and Kenyan members located in Nairobi.

The band returned from a long hiatus and broke the silence on Wednesday, where they announced their first return concert, which will take place on June 1.

The Madaraka Day concert will be a celebration of the resilience and power of East African music. The concert will also feature DJ Collo Ace, the reigning King of Rhumba decks.

Formed in the late ‘70s, Les Wanyika has over the years created some of East Africa’s most iconic and enduring songs.

Despite their silent years, hits like Sina Makosa, Afro and Kasuku have taken a life of their own, endearing themselves to every new generation.

What has, however, remained a big secret are their faces, a gap many fake groups have used to claim their fame.

 Les Wanyika music group was formed in 1978. [File, Standard]

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During a press conference on Wednesday, founding member, Sijali Zuwa said there were many frauds in the industry claiming to be Les Wanyika.

“There are very many fakes out there, but we want to state we are the founding members of Les Wanyika,” said trumpeter Sijali Zuwa.

He added, “This is our first-ever press conference since we were formed 44 years ago; we have realised that although people love our songs, they do not know much about us.” 

“There are many who do not know our faces, some even think we are dead, but I assure you, we are here and ready to thrill our fans,” founding member and bassist Tommy Malanga said.

“We have embraced new technology so we can interact with our fans directly. We are working on new music,” he added.

The group was formed in 1978 when drummer Rashid Juma, guitarist Omar Shabani, bassist Tommy Malanga, saxophonist Sijali Salum Zuwa and Phoney Mkwanyule left Simba Wanyika Band.

They were later joined by guitarist John Ngereza and vocalist Issa Juma. Of the founding members, only bassist Tommy Malanga, and trumpeter Sijali Zuwa have remained with the band for the entire 44 years of existence.

Though younger generations had moved away from Rhumba sound, it has now come full circle. The likes of H_art The Band, Sauti Sol and Wanavokali have all reverted to the iconic Rhumba sound, which was made popular by Les Wanyika.

Typically associated with the older generation, Rhumba is now attracting a much younger crowd, due to its rhythmic quality and rich sound.

Rhythm guitarist, John Sappy is the youngest member of the current ensemble. The 25-year-old Congolese guitarist is living his dream, playing with his musical idols.

“My journey with Les Wanyika began in 2021 when I came to Kenya on tour with a band from Congo,” said John.

“I was spotted by band leader, Sijali Zuwa who invited me for an audition. The rest is history... I grew up listening to Les Wanyika, it is a privilege to play with them.”

Zuwa has assured fans Les Wanyika is back and better, and with new management taking the reins, the group is confident the future is bright.