Afro Simba, Papillon hold stellar performance at “Pandizo” album launch

The African drums shook the musty Nairobi air with an ear-shattering call of a warrior’s song to unsheathe the assegai and be on the ready, a restless audience would stare with high expectation as some wriggled their frames to the teeming, almost muddled sounds, one of those occasional Sunday evening of African acoustics and sound in Nairobi. Afro-Simba was on stage, embodying the perfect regalia for the fete, the African rockers would leave an audience electrified even as Monday blues beckoned.November 6 was just a good day as any to dance an African jig and listen to the earth shake to the tunes of East Africa’s gifted bands. The evening started off with the eclectic Papillon, a Kenyan Musician based at the Africa Heritage House in Nairobi. Papillon is a music protégé of the legendary Ayub Ogada- an internationally acclaimed Nyatiti (8 string Luo traditional lyre) player. Papillon, brought the Nyatiti to life in his performances. Before the Nyatiti player could rent the stage with his imploring voice, he led the audience into a three minute dedication to his mentor the esteemed Ayub Ogada. The video performance was not only nostalgic, for those who miss traditional attire but also emotional and heroic uplifting Ogada into the mighty stage he rightfully deserves. 

Thereafter, accompanied by a band made up of Vocalists Awalet from Eritrea, Mulindwa from Uganda, Shaki from Rwanda and Blavion from Kenya, and Keyboardist Pau from Kenya and drummer Prasad from India, Papillon would retell the African story in a very compelling narrative, a dramatized story time. The picture of the ‘elders’ on stage and the audience were the silent hungry innocents who drunk in the wisdom of the grizzled old men. But only this time, tradition was perfectly washed up in disco floodlights and the incessant lightning from the cameras. 
Papillon told the story about home is home in his piece “Mochie”. Then the story about being a leader means being a servant in another piece titled “Sinoma Ofweneke” performed in Igbo. Thereafter, with a poem from Shaki, he talked about the import of education. It was a resounding tale told in the lovely fading Nairobi Sunday evening. As his self-made Nyatiti died, the flames of the story slowly ticked to the dying embers of the story time fire. Then came the dance.

The assegai unsheathed, the blood lust in the air, as Afro-Simba took to stage with a resounding energy to a wild cheer from the crowd. Their music pins down the five senses before arousing the need to wake up and shake a leg. With an intoxicating performance, the 8-man band awakened the intriguing Kenyan culture with classical Mijikenda sounds that reverberate with a unique but true African beat.

Their album ‘Pandizo’ bears it all when it comes to their music, featuring typical Mijikenda sounds gladdened with tunes from instruments such as; Congas, Ndema, Nzumari, Chapuo, Mpitambele, Mchirima, Ndonga, chivoti, chikoza, and Ngomambiche, the group not only redefines Kenya’s coastal traditional music but also blends it with the modern day drum sets and guitar bringing the audience to a new level of music appreciation.

The 8-man band is made up of Kombo Chokwe Burns- vocalist and guitarist, Walter Kivure-Keyboard, Morris Kivisi-drums, Eddieson Dena- Bass, Ndune Sindo Percussion, Kezungu Charo Shutu- Percussion, Happy Wanje and Gladys Wairimu Mugane as backing Vocalist. 

The 5-year-old band was conceived with the aim of exploring Jazz and Swahili sounds. AfroSimba has in various venues across the world including the US, UAE, Uganda and Somalia. 

‘Pandizo’ album was produced by Spotlight on Kenyan Music and Ketebul Music.        

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