The album Kibera Esbera [Kenya] by Kenyan act The West Bridge Band is now available in digital format. Kibera Esbera [Kenya] was originally released by Electric Cowbell Records in vinyl format for Record Store Day, 2015. The label has not made the album available on CD.
Belonging to the Luhya Tribe, The West Bridge Band is a four-man group led by Wamalwa Lusweti, who makes and plays the litungu, a nine-stringed instrument that he invented.
The members of the West Bridge Band live on the edge of Kibera, the world’s largest “slum” where open sewage runs along the streets. Over 2 million people live there. With the population increasing daily, the district stands in clear contrast to the tourists who visit Nairobi to go on luxury safari excursions.
This record was recorded in a small single room by award-winning producer, Ian Brennan, where the band leader’s entire family lives. It is smaller than the interior of many American cars, and without a kitchen or bathroom. They jerry rig electricity illegally through a ramshackle of wires cut into the city’s grid.
The West Bridge Band makes a living by playing traditional Kenyan music from other tribes to entertain tourists. They change costumes for the different numbers with few in the audience seeming to realize that it is the same performers over and over again rather than a rotating cast of ethnic characters.
In the off hours, the musicians live an awful reality, selling the instruments they build and writing songs such as “The Rich” and “Sadness”. Few of their compositions are more telling though, such as “I Will Not Lose Faith In You.”
The digital version of this album includes a bonus remix track of the song “Papa” by French-Chilean multi-instrumentalist, DJ, and producer Aillacara 2743, also known as Medline and Electroom Acoostap.
The West Bridge Band lineup: Geoffrey Simiyumunialo on litungu, vocals; Anyango Ochwila on vocals, sichenje ring; Wamalwa Lusweti on litungu, shiriri, vocals; and Thoya Baya on jembe, vocals.
Purchase Kibera Esbera [Kenya]
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central