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Red carpet as Ohangla 'big boys' thrill fans at city fiesta

Standard Entertainment
 Ohangla musician Musa Jakadala belts out a number during the Ohangla fiesta in Nairobi which celebrated his 10-year journey. [Courtesy]

Ohangla maestro Musa Jakadala has fired a warning shot to competitors saying he isn’t done yet dominating the airwaves and climbing the charts.

The singer who held a fiesta at the Greenspan Grounds in Donholm, Nairobi, to celebrate his 10 years in music, could be a true depiction of a man who never says die.

Despite the highs and lows of the turbulent industry, Jakadala says his sights are set on giving the Ohangla genre a ‘new feel’ with thrilling albums and remixes lined up for the new year.

He has vowed to remain on the stage despite the heat from other modern-day Ohangla musicians such as Elvis Kadory, Elisha Toto, Roy Thunder, Odongo Swagg, Amiso Thwang’o and Prince Indah, and even the veterans such as Tony Nyadundo, Ema Jalamo ‘Opija’ and Osogo Winyo.

Since releasing his debut single, Nyar Alego, in 2013, Jakadala, also known by fans as Joyman, has made an impressive show, observes say, perhaps only comparable to Prince Indah in recent ratings due to their versatility and evergreen lyrics.

At his 10th anniversary event dubbed ‘Kadala’s experience’ last Saturday, attended by thousands of fans, the musician sought to stamp his authority. “Ten years in music isn’t a short time. I have the grit, mettle and firepower to be a game-changer. Fellow musicians and my fans wherever you are, rest assured I’m taking Ohangla to the next level,” he said.

He added: “Certainly a decade in music feels good. There are many colleagues we started with and because of the rough times in the sector, they threw in the towel. It is because of the hand of God that I have stayed on the journey and its worth celebrating.”

The Greenspan ceremony was graced by Jalamo, Indah, Toto, Kadory, Thunder, Mc Pengle, Mc Oga Obinna among other artists, and attended by Ohangla fans from across the country, some of whom claimed all they wanted was to give the maestro moral support.

When Jakadala ventured into music, he started off with shows in his Kisumu backyard and in Nairobi’s Kayole under Blaze Africa before recording his first song under the stewardship of musician Dola Kabarry of Super Haki Haki band. He then formed the Super Latin Ohangla Band.

His boundless music style and knack for love songs endeared him to many, including non-Luo fans.

“There’s a soothing feel in his songs and yet they aren’t immoral as one would expect from a youthful singer. His songs are friendly to all ages,” Lydia Cherotich, from Kapsabet, remarked during the Greenspan fiesta.

Jakadala’s hits include Belly Belly, Nyiri Dwaro Ang’o, Nyar Siaya, Hera Remo and Chuny Dhano, Nyar Asembo, Nyathi Gi Lilly, Judy Nyasuba, Babie Nyalego and Nyar Mara. He has also churned out several numbers featuring musicians Indah and Wuod Fibi.

In Belly Belly, he beseeches a woman from Kano, Ahero, to stay by his side, and narrates the ordeals he went through in seeking her hand in marriage. The composer and singer tells the girl that he’s willing to do menial jobs such as collecting firewood and fetching water around her home to stay close by and win her heart. 

Besides popular following on YouTube, Jakadala also swims in stardom as he stages daily shows in popular Nairobi hotspots, mainly in Eastelands and the CBD. His prime spots include Benelix in Greenspan Mall and Highlands near Kenya Cinema.

Ohangla music, a genre that has now sounded the death knell to Luo Benga music, has come a long way. It took Tony Nyadundo and his brother Jack Nyadundo years to give it the visibility and love it enjoys in the entertainment scene today.

Observers say Benga music was the in-thing in Luo land for years. Today, however, it is struggling to regain traction, with only a handful of Benga musicians, including John Junior of BV band and Wally Mayienga Jasuba, trudging on, struggling to steady the ship.

In the heydays of Luo musicians Musa Juma, Okatch Biggy, Collela Mazee, Owino Misiani, Musa Olwete, Ouma Omore, Prince Jully, Osito Kalle, Ochieng Nelly, George Ramogi and others, Benga had seemed invincible until the tables turned 10 years ago in favour of Ohangla.

Researchers and ardent music fans say Ohangla overtook Benga because it met many contemporary social demands of the Luo nation as it is laced with an urbanite touch.

An emphatic Jakadala told The Saturday Standard that with the goodwill of his fans and fellow musicians, he can only promise the best. Meanwhile, he wants the government to ensure a level playing field for musicians so that the trade can be worthwhile like in the West.

He says: “My work is well cut out. I have the passion and drive and will strive to dominate Ohangla charts in the new year 2024. To my fans and fellow musicians, thank you for the goodwill. We can only make it better.”  

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