Eric Wainaina & The Best Band in Africa
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Eric Wainaina & The Best Band in Africa

Nairobi, Nairobi Area, Kenya | SELF

Nairobi, Nairobi Area, Kenya | SELF
Band World Singer/Songwriter




"Voice of The Voiceless"

Voice of the voiceless, afro-pop sensation, political activist, Kenya's Eric Wainaina has been given a lot of titles, but with a new album coming out he could potentially be dubbed Africa's next world music star. He's performed across the world winning many accolades, but his roots are still in Kenya and performs in Nairobi every week. "If you're not playing at home for the people you write the music for, then you're off the mark," he told CNN. (Click link to view feature) - CNN

"Star Sings of Kenya's Disharmony"

In four bitter lines from a new song, Kenya’s most famous pop star poses a question to a faceless politician that resonates with millions of Kenyans.

Eric Wainaina: his songs lamenting the performance of the coalition have given a ‘voice to the voiceless’
“It’s crazy you have a bodyguard / To protect you from me,” sings Eric Wainaina. “Where do I apply, who do I see / To be protected from you?”

Just more than a year after a post-election crisis that threatened to rip the country apart, Kenya is being rocked by fresh waves of popular anger directed at the leaders who forged a power-sharing deal to bring it to an end.
Their performance has been “horrendous”, says Mr Wainaina, a dreadlocked 35-year-old whose musical mix of politically charged polemics and romantic soliloquies has made him, his manager says, the “voice of the voiceless”.
On Monday in Geneva, politicians, commentators and activists will offer their assessment of the lessons of power-sharing at a two-day meeting organised by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general who brokered the peace.
To disillusioned Kenyans the coalition government’s only success is that it has not fallen apart, thereby preventing a repeat of the violence that claimed 1,300 lives after Mwai Kibaki’s dubious presidential election victory. Maina Kiai, former head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, says the country is facing “a crisis of leadership and impunity”. Kenya’s church leaders have described Mr Kibaki as “moribund” and Raila Odinga, prime minister, as “ineffective”.
The deepest source of concern is the coalition’s failure to deliver reforms that tackle the causes of last year’s crisis: grinding poverty and gaping inequality, unjust land allocations, and the tribalisation of political power. It has been paralysed by mutual mistrust, internal squabbles and political plotting over the next election due in 2012.
High-level corruption has proliferated, including a scandal over the illegal sale of maize that triggered street protests.
John Githongo, a former Kibaki-appointed official who fled Kenya in 2005 after he was thwarted in his task of reining in graft, says an “orgy of looting” has sucked in both sides. “It’s the only thing the coalition has agreed upon.”
Salim Lone, a former spokesman for Mr Odinga and now one of his independent advisers, says: “We have very few leaders who have a notion of what is the national interest.”
Kenya has become a more sinister place, eliciting comparisons with the 24-year reign of Daniel arap Moi, the reviled former president.
The government has introduced a communications bill that journalists say will roll back media freedom. Stores are refusing to sell a new book on corruption out of fear over reprisals.
After a UN investigator said in February that police death squads were carrying out systematic extra-judicial killings two activists who had given him evidence were gunned down in Nairobi.
“There is a feeling in parts of the government that there is too much democracy and that the only way to keep power is to cause fear and intimidation,” says Mr Kiai.
“With the PNU side [the party of Mr Kibaki and his Kikuyu tribe] there’s definitely a lot of arrogance,” says Mr Wainaina. “It’s ‘We are untouchable. We are together’.”
Mr Odinga, meanwhile, in spite of his reformist instincts, has been hobbled by the compromises he made to form the coalition, the pop star says.
Mr Lone says the prime minister has “extremely limited power” and Mr Githongo says “the coalition’s capacity to deliver on anything more than staying together is severely constrained”.
Mr Odinga defended the coalition on Friday, saying it was less corrupt than previous regimes. He championed a new public works plan designed to create 300,000 jobs and said: “It is not possible to undo all the ills of 45 years in a moment.”
What makes Monday’s crisis of leadership different from previous ones is that Kenyans are more educated and politically aware than ever. In addition, some members of tribes who were enemies one year ago – including the Kikuyu – now feel they share a pan-ethnic bond as victims of the government’s failings.
“What we need is for the politicians to have a coalition with the people,” Mr Wainaina says.
If not, another song from his forthcoming album Love and Protest offers a more radical solution: “Trembling from below, the earth is breaking / It’s time to put on our uniforms / Sign up for the revolution.”
- Financial Times


Five Alive (1996)
Sawa Sawa (2001)
Ukweli (EP) (2002)
Lwanda - Man of Stone (Musical) (2003)
Kigezi ndoto(Producer) (2006)
Lwanda - A Ghetto Story (Musical) (2006)
Twende Twende (2007)
That's Why(Live Recording) (2008)
Tinga Tinga Tales (Animated TV Series) (2009/2010)
Mo Faya (Musical) (2009)
Tinga Tinga Tales (Album) (2011)
Alicia Mamoshi(Producer) (2011)
Love and Protest (2011)



Eric Wainaina seems to have been born to “speak truth to power”. His middle class up-bringing in Nairobi and thorough music grounding at the Berklee College of music don’t make him the most likely candidate for leading social revolutions and yet this is precisely what he has done time and again though his music from the very onset of his career in Nairobi. His earliest songs, “Daima” and “Nchi Ya Kitu Kidogo” became anthems sung across the country – both of them powerful indictments of the authoritarian and ethnically divisive governments of that have been governed Kenya since independence.
Yet this soft-spoken and fiercely focused musician has never allowed his attention to be removed from the business of crafting excellent music - from his earliest days of meticulous harmony training in the hit a capella group- 5 Alive through his first engagements with creating a new contemporary sound for Kenyan music – blending Benga rhythms from the 60s and 70s with western harmony to produce what is now dubbed Afro Fusion.
His two award-winning records, Sawa Sawa(2001) and Twende Twende(2006) are still amongst the highest selling records in Kenya and his lyrical and melodic prowess make him a highly sought-after composer in collaborative projects as well as music for the screen. He was recently commissioned to write the music for a MDG campaign for the UN entitled “8 Goals for Africa” which featured African greats such as Angelique Kidjo, Baaba Maal,Oliver Mtukidzi and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
He also wrote and starred in a musical theatre production titled Mo Faya! which was presented to sold-out houses in at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and at the Godown Arts Centre in Nairobi.