An Anglo-African band from the UK that incorporated some Kenyan students thrilled the audience at the Kenya National Music Festivals with popular Kenya songs.
The band members had mastered the songs so that one would think it was their first language.
The band, led by Diana Badia, took to the stage yesterday soon after traditional cultural dances from the rest of Africa.
The songs included Kalenjin classics by Emily Chepchumba and Philip Bamwai Yegon.
Some in the audience joined the band, dancing and singing along as Jamie Beard and Rod Hodkinson hit the notes that sounded just like the original ones.
And when they introduced a Kamba song, Nthenya Watwawa Kisumu, the hall went wild. And they didn’t disappoint even with the fast-paced dance moves by Nicole Gill.
The Kamba musician is lamenting about Nthenya, who has left him and is now in love with another man from Kisumu.
The singer is asking Nthenya to remember the good days they enjoyed together and return to him.
And everything was spot on, from the dances to the lead guitar.
The group also sang a Gikuyu gospel song, Nii Ningwenda, in which the singer thanks God for his provision.
“Whatever we do and achieve, we know without you we may never have had success,” the band sang as the audience listened in awe.
Musician Odhimbo Odhiambo joined the team to lead in the Dholuo folk song Jokisumu Beduru Mos. The song tells residents of Kisumu to take it easy and blames them for serving cassava that is not well cooked.
Dunia Ina Mambo by Lady Issa was the icing on the cake as almost everyone in the hall joined the band in singing along and clapping. The song warns that the world is complex and not everyone means well.
"We have a combined team of British and Kenyan singers to celebrate our cultures," said Badia.
The band is one the groups that have been participating in the festival.
Recently, teams from Uganda, Tanzania and Germany performed at the festival.
“This has been a great experience, especially since the Kenyan musicians in the group have travelled to the UK for a series of performances with the band,” said music enthusiast Muyale Inzai.
Earlier, Carmelvale Girls School Buru Buru won in their category, beating teams from the rest of Africa with a Banda dance performed to welcome the Kabaka.
Ikerege High School from Kuria won with a dance, Togotane (a special hand shake) by Ben Chacha. The theme of the dance was uniting Kenyans.
Sacred Heart Mombasa easily won the Taarab music category with their song on national cohesion. They beat perennial champions Mama Ngina Girls during the Coast regional festivals a month ago.
Kenya Institute of Professional Studies won in eight items, which included a set piece, Cinderella and Ngonjera Dada, which was about bullying in college.
Speaking at the event yesterday, Central Regional Coordinator Stephen Barongo said he was satisfied with how the festival had been hosted.
“We are happy that the event has run smoothly. Everything has gone according to plan," said Barongo.
The winners' gala is set for today. Tomorrow, President Uhuru Kenyatta will host the winners at State Lodge Sagana.