Saturday, March 24, 2012

Funky Kenya: Keep humming

 Funky times

Kelly Brown aka Cally the Bushman
Image source:

The sixties and seventies marked the era of the funk in Kenya and all over, fans had a lot to celebrate on each day. Starting with the likes of Hodi Boys and the incessant beats of Cally the Bushman this age was never to be forgotten. Saturday’s traffic headed to the Former Starlight Club and 1900 Bonanza before it was rebranded to New Florida Club, Nairobi and Small World Club in Athi River.

The King of Funk, James Brown and George Clinton prevailed in the world but the Kenyan phenoms also made everyone get down back at home. The frenzy was led by the Hodi Boys, formed in the 60’s by Geoffrey Ngao, Henry Nbagho and Nick Kim. The Hodi Boys was the band that propelled the famous Slim Ali career to the Funk music domain.

Ali, born in Mombasa in 1947 started his music career while still at Hamisi Secondary School and before joining Hodi Boys he was part of Kitale Hotel Band and the Tusker Band. Slim Ali will always be remembered for his best-selling records; “You can do it.” and “Sweet mother” released in 77 and 78.

Show Business of the 70s was Sal Davies; born in Mombasa as Salim Abdullah Salim he aroused the funk mood with hits such as “Unchain my heart” and “Makini”. Salim studied in London and once filled in for a Belgian Cabaret singer which acted as a push to the big stage. Bonanza (Madhouse) was his home to the extent of having the club being identified as Sal Davies Night Spot.

Another great of those times was Kelly Brown, popularly known as Cally the Bushman. Also a child of Mombasa, he brought the German pop to funk. His style, tight trousers, and afro would be easily mistaken to that of James Brown. His song “Higher” was a great hit and went to sell in Germany after he settled in Berlin.

Other prominent bands and personalities included:
The cavaliers
The Viking Band at the coast
African Heritage Band which fused jazz, reggae, and funk.

Steele Mnyapara Beauttah, Mombasa who pioneered the Air Fiesta Matata band.

Ismael Jingo, Gloria Africana Band also born in Mombasa with his English style of Chakachaka fever.

Fadhili Williams "Mdawida" of the famous song “Malaika”

Makonde of Terso Stephanou, the Kenyan-Geek with their hit “Mola Where are You”.

Gratitude to all radio presenters; Kazungu Katana, Abdul Haq and Nicola Miyawa who ensured that homegrown funk had enough airtime.
Sources: “Retracing Kenya’s Funky Hits” the 3rd in the series of projects of Ketebul Music, the documentary is narrated by John Sibi-Okumu

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