Artist Profiles: Jabali Afrika

Jabali Afrika

Jabali Afrika is a Kenyan band with a unique mixture of African rhythms. This is a truly multi-faceted band whose members are not only adept at composing songs, playing a variety of instruments, and blending their voices into a harmonious sound but, are also talented dancers and choreographers.

The band’s origin can be traced to the Kenya National Theatre Dance Troupe. In 1993, feeling unnecessarily censored, some of the members of the troupe became dissatisfied with the choices in their repertoire. In their frustration, Joseck Asikoye, Victor Elolo, Justo Otongo, Evans Chagala and Robert Owino broke away from the troupe and formed what is known as Jabali Afrika. The name was picked because the word Jabali is Kiswahili (Kenya’s national language) for rock. This word was significant to the original members because they used to meet on a large rock in order to discuss how to advance their musical careers. Therefore, Jabali was an ideal name for the band. Since then, Chagala and Owino have left the group, and the band is proud to have added Bernard to the lineup.

Through Perseverance, Jabali Afrika began to enjoy its first taste of success when the band was invited to play percussion in the United Radio and Television Network of Afrika (URTNA) awards. Not long after, the band launched its unique sound on Nairobi’s National Talent Search (Star Search). The band went on to win the best traditional adaptation award in Kenya in December 1994. As a result of this achievement the band earned recognition al over Africa, as well as Europe, and seemed unbeatable. In the spring of 1995, the band was invited to headline the African Heritage Festival tour of Germany and Austria.

To date, Jabali Afrika has toured Europ, Japan and the United States.

The band has also released two CDs in Europe, and two in the United States entitled Journey and Remember the Past.

Discography

Journey (CultureHub Recordings, 1996)
Remember the Past (Jabali Afrika, 1999)
Rootsganza (Tropic / Converge, 2003)
Mayosi (2006)
Rebellion 1963 To The Future (2012)
Nakumbuka (CultureHub Recordings, 2017)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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