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Picture of Popular Music, Ethnicity and Politics in the Kenya of the 1990s

Popular Music, Ethnicity and Politics in the Kenya of the 1990s

Okatch Biggy Live at “The Junction”

Author(s): T. Michael Mboya

Book Description

Okatch Biggy was the single most dominant benga artiste of the 1990s. Over that decade, benga was the most important genre of popular music in Kenya. What is it about the music of Okatch Biggy that made it attractive to his target audience, the Luo of the 1990s? Is there something about the Luo of the 1990s that predisposed them to this music? In the course of answering these—and related—questions, this volume analyzes Okatch Biggy’s songs as works of art, that is, by identifying the aesthetic and rhetorical conventions that are deployed in the songs, and explores the central messages that the music transmits. It shows the significance of the meanings in Okatch Biggy’s music for the Luo of the 1990s by situating it in the historical context from which it emerged. Literary instruments of analysis and contextualizing material gathered from various knowledge archives are deployed in the production of the textual meaning of the popular music of Okatch Biggy, which is used here as a lens through which to understand the relationship between politics and ethnicity in the Kenya of the 1990s.The book’s carefully demonstrated argument is that, in both the form and the content of his music, Okatch Biggy undertook a comprehensive culturalist-nationalist project of Luo definition that was persuasive to his primary audience in the highly ethnicized political context in which he became successful. This is a timely study given the current renewed scholarly interest in African popular music that has come on the back of the rise of leisure studies and the reinvigoration of popular culture studies.


ISBN-13: 978-1-5275-2674-7
ISBN-10: 1-5275-2674-7
Date of Publication: 01/04/2019
Pages / Size: 163 / A5
Price: £58.99


T. Michael Mboya is a Moi University-trained scholar of African literary and popular culture studies, having received his BA, MPhil and DPhil from the aforementioned institution. He mainly researches the popular culture of the Luo of Kenya and Tanzania. He currently teaches in the Department of Literature, Theatre and Film Studies of Moi University, Kenya, and is a Visiting Research Associate in the Department of African Literature of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.