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What is Benga?
It is a traditional form of music that originates from East Africa, specifically Kenya. The name originated from the Luo community and loosely translates to 'beautiful thing’. The sound is a mixture of Rhumba and some aspects of Cuban music. It was established between 1960 to 1970. Back then, most songs in this category were either political or romantic.
Where did it come from?
It originated from the Nyanza region in Western Kenya . It was among the first local sounds in Kenya. It came at a point when Kenya was struggling to get a music identity as most songs that were played then were mostly foreign. Composition wise, Benga was created by infusing beats from instruments such as guitar,orutu, nyatiti and drums. The rhythm was slow and poetic making it easy for fans to get the message.
Daniel Owino Misiani, the founder of Shirati Jazz, John Ongara and Ochieng Nelly are considered as some of the artists who pioneered this sound in Kenya. The three are reported to have organised local gigs that created a platform for them to perform and popularise the genre. The shows then grew with time and in return, Benga also became popular. The genre first gained prominence in Kisumu which is considered the capital of the Nyanza region after which it slowly spread to other parts of the country.
Although it started in Nyanza, the sound was embraced by different communities including Kamba and Kikuyu, making it a household genre in Kenya. Having conquered the local scene, artists under this genre were hoping to go international and venture into new countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania among others, but this dream was cut short by the emergence of several new genres that have been better embraced by the youth e.g gengetone, amapiano,bongo and afro beats.
Pundits argue that Benga’s decline was mainly as a result of myths associating it with the old generation. When you mention Benga among the youth especially in urban areas, the response is always something to do with music for our forefathers, this is because the type of sound and available literature paint a picture of music for the early generations. Limited airplay across the media especially in urban areas has also been blamed for the genre’s decline. A section of industry stakeholders argue that the limited airplay made it difficult for fans to keep up with what was happening in that category.
Lastly, failure to keep up with the latest technological trends in regards to production are also believed to have made the genre less popular. Despite the above challenges, Benga is still fighting for its place in the industry, with some artists still holding on to it, despite criticism that the genre is no longer relevant and appealing in the country.
Which are the top songs in this genre?
Nthino Ndi Tei - Kithungo Raha Maima
Khabusie - Opeta wa Msungu
Thina - Alex Kasau
Penzi - Kativui Mweene
Ring - Kelechi Africana
Barua Yako- Orchestre Les Wanyika
Nonii - Sweetstar
Unaniona - Walter Chilambo
Safari ya Meru - Katitu Boys
Vombo - Katombi
Who are the most popular artists in this category?
Kithunga Raha Maima
Daniel Owino Misiani
Is the genre exclusive to the Luo Community?
No, it is a mainstream Kenyan sound. Currently, Benga is popular among Luo, Kikuyu and Kamba communities. Legendary musician Eric Wainaina has also produced several singles under this category
Is it still active in Kenya?
Yes it is still active. Despite reports that the genre is dead due to stiff competition from other sounds, artists such as Kithunga Raha Maima, Dola Kabarry and Alex Kasau among others are still producing Benga jams which are holding it afloat.
How to listen and download Benga songs on Mdundo.com
These songs are available for free download and streaming on mdundo.com. To listen to this kind of music, visit mdundo.com and search for Benga. A catalog of all available MP3 songs under the category will then be provided for you to select the ones you want. You can download/listen to the latest music on Mdundo through your phone, laptop or any other device that can access the internet.
Why choose mdundo.com?
Mdundo offers the latest MP3 songs for free streaming and download. All you need is a feature phone and you can start listening to some of the best songs from your top artists. Additionally, you can also enjoy DJ mixes specially curated to meet your needs. The songs are also easy to download and do not need a lot of data since they have been customized for users with feature phones.
Stream/Download new MP3 songs online. Find the latest Benga music on Mdundo.com for free.
Landing page: https://mdundo.com/genres/11