01/12/2018: “Asante Kwa Wazazi” by George Mukabi

You don’t need an orchestra to make beautiful songs. Sometimes simplicity is the best.

George Mukabi, from Kenya, played guitar in a way  that combined Western fingerpicking with traditional Kenyan lyre and drum playing. He pretty much singlehandedly invented this particular style, which plays about three separate parts of the song at the same time. It creates a lively, jumpy feeling.

It’s a nice little tune, with a rhythmical style that is distinctly African, and some light percussion. The main focus is really the combination of his singing and guitar playing.

He was one of Kenya’s first musicians to record large scale, but was unfortunately killed by his in-laws aged 33, so only released about 30 songs. For this reason he is often called Marehemu George Mukabi, which is Swahili for something like “the late”.

The song is on the album Sengula Nakupenda, which according to Discogs, someone has paid more than £200 for…

I can’t find exactly when it released, although it was presumable after his death as the liner notes refer to his killing. The original records are presumably out there in Kenya, but there’s scarce information on the internet regarding when this particular song was recorded. The release on iTunes says 1993, which is several decades after his death in 1963.

A lovely little song!