Why sheng could be limiting local musicians

By RAPHAEL MUCHIRI WANJOHI | Monday, Dec 2nd 2019 at 09:18
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I have an opinion; it's about music and sheng. I usually have a problem with sheng slang. It is a local and under-developed language born in Nairobi ghettos in the late 1990s or early 2000s. A language that is commonly used by local musicians such as Nameless, Willy Paul, Jua Cali, Wahu, Wyre, etc. To me, I'd rather speak in fluent English, Swahili, or Kikuyu rather than sheng.

If you follow bongo flava music, I'm sure you know about artists like Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize, and Alikiba from Tanzania. There was a time Diamond did collabos with international artistes such as Rick Ross, Neyo, and Morgan Heritage, among others. I was asking myself this question, "Why is it that most Kenyan musicians can't do a collabo with these international stars?"

Then, after doing my research, I realized it is because of sheng. Singing or speaking in sheng will only limit your opportunities because nobody has a clear understanding of this language. It is a haphazard mix of English and Swahili words that sometimes does not make sense.

In Kenya, we have Gikuyu TV, muga fm, Ramogi fm, but you cannot hear Sheng TV or Sheng fm. Why? Because sheng is not a real language. And by the way, the official language for East Africa is Swahili, not sheng. That is what the outside world knows. Sheng cannot be translated in a way that foreigners can understand it. That means it is a local slang that can never grow. Remember, this is my opinion, what's yours?

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