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Watch Mbe Omukhasi Music Video: Steve Kay’s Crossover Infectious Hit Refreshes The Kenyan Wedding Song Scene

It is easy to imagine a rap battle. But a Kenyan wedding song battle? Move over Kayamba Roots. Step up Steve Kay. To Kayamba Roots, nothing personal. As far as made-for-radio-and-dance-floor Kenyan wedding songs go, not even Jua Kali Band’s “My Dear” can hold a candle to “Mbe Omukhasi”.

And to the all time Luhya hit song Mulongo, we’ve had good times at weddings and in busaa powered Mulembe Nights. We carry with us those lit moments of family fun.  You made us dance as only Africans can. Those Sunday afternoon Nyama Choma plots- that we love so much for killing two birds with one stone: slamming hangovers  and redeeming ourselves to the wife and kids- remain with us.

It’s been real.

On to the new….Steve Kay has broken ground with Mbe Omukhasi: a love story, that is more than just your average Kenyan wedding song. I dare say that Mbe Omukhasi plays in the league of My Bukusu darling and Eric Wainaina’s  Daima as regards its social impact. To understand this bold claim, we head first to the dance floor, late in the night in a typical Kenyan nightspot.

The Kenyan Reveler Experience

Every so often circa the ungodly hour of 0300 hrs, inebriated silly and having given up on adulting, we would request the Dj to have Mulongo on the replay. On lazy nights we often got our wish. On popular nights, times over, the Dj would ignore our request lest s/he upsets the track order of his Kenyan Music set. We will discuss more why this perchance for Mulongo later in this article.  For now, lets talk a little bit more about this Kenyan music Dj set

A collection of traditional african music instruments that feature prominently in popular Kenyan Wedding songs

First, the music (the Kenyan music Dj set) comes on with absolute no warning. You’d be there dancing to the groovy Bruno Mars, next thing is the percussion of African music blasting through the speaker.

A Kenyan wedding song here; Kenyan Hip Hop somewhere, invariably a Kenyan gospel song too; Heck! Throw in a circumcision song it’s all good. Provided for the songs playing are primarily sang in Kenya’s major ethnic languages, in the ration 1:1:1:1.. ad infitum. One Kamba song, a Luhya one, definitely a Luo song, perhaps a Kalenjin song and so forth. It is at these moments when we scream loudest when the Dj auto-cues “Kama imeshika sana wapi nduru”.

The sound of instruments from our ancestors is one that we find hard to resist. As a consequence, as the Dj plays the Kenyan Music set, the dance floor is invariably packed hips gyrating, hands clasping and sweat dripping. Thanks to the drink and music, for those fleeting minutes, we are all Kenyan. Merrily dancing to Mugithi, Kambeka and others in mockery of the divisions among us brought on by frivolous representations of our ethnic diversity.

Over the recent past, the Luhya music spot in that rapatiore has belonged to Mulongo, My Dear or Rev. Joseph Shisia Wasira’s hit Omundu Omulosi. Of the three the former is the more popular one. This popularity of Mulongo stems from a special quality. An acclaim that Mbe Omkhasi now threatens to own.

Mulongo : The  Ultimate Kenyan Wedding Song

What Mulongo used to be to us, Mbe Omukhasi promises to be. And better. Granted that for a live performance Mulongo remains the quintessential Kenyan wedding song as it allows us to Mugithi train to Luhya music. In doing so, Mulongo allows us to temporarily abandon our  tribal buffoonery as it bridges Eastern and Western Kenyan cultures using music and dance.

Mulongo is a Luhya -Western Kenya- song commonly danced in a style -Mugithi train- rooted among the communities from Eastern/Central Kenya. In a cosmopolitan setting such as a wedding, it was the perfect song to get everyone mingling in dance.

african girl, barely five in age, in green dress dances in church as congregation wathces on

Mbe Omukhasi The New Ultimate Kenyan Wedding Song?

Mbe Omukhasi by Steve Kay adopts a technique commonly used by Hip Hop artists to pay homage to their hoods and hoomies: Name dropping. Moreover, Steve Kay additionally infuses humor and clever word pun play to great effect. The You Tube description for Mbe Omukhasi embraces the song’s intrinsic qualities that make it the crossover hit that introduces Steve Kay to the world.

I quote:

Mbe Omukhasi – loosely translated to mean Give me my wife – is a Luhya wedding song packaged as a new Luhya Pop Genre of music that fuses traditional Luhya style with Modern Popular genres.

end of quote.

I find the description, first, typically Kenyan and secondly extremely modest. Typically Kenyan because of its claim of yet another genre of Kenyan music: Luhya Pop Music; thereby courting controversy as only a Kenyan could and muddy the already arduous quest to define Kenyan Music.

Modest because its simple lyrics-punctured with Swahili-, nostalgic African melody, irresistible rich harmony and dance friendly rhythm mean that Steve Kay’s Mbe Omukhasi surely shakes up Kenyan Wedding music. In fact, despite Mbe Omukhasi being your typical girl meets boy song, even music artists who operate outside this space need also be worried.

Mbe Omukhasi Video Breaks New Ground For Luhya Music

Mbe Omukhasi’s video is cleverly done, therefore widening the song’s mass appeal. The effect of producing such an awesome HD quality video, in spite of the obvious temptation to go for the substandard is two fold.

First, it backs the songs legitimacy to quality above the regular. This is lofty aim is achieved through appealing visuals made possible by: a sizeable budget that bestowed access to multiple locations; use of drone in filming for killer angles; a talented cast; thoughtful costumes and surgeon like editing skills. What such fidelity to the process does is that it elevates the song from the company of those chalky VCD music videos that one imbibes as they sip local brew in the village.

Secondly, even with this ‘all out’ attitude, the director still clings onto scenes reminiscent of any other pop music video. Like the sweeping shots of the beach and indoor shots of all white majestic mansion (another African pop video favorite). This dose of familiarity is what enables Mbe Omukhasi to crossover from being a wedding song appropriate for a family audience to a club banger at home with the naughtier after hours.

Bungomawood

Moreover, this six minute plus feature has never seen before aerial shots of Bungoma town. It also lets us in on surrounding natural features such as the majestic waterfalls on river Nzoia in Webuye. As an ode to it’s vernacular roots, the Mbe Omukhasi video allocates huge minutes to believable scenes of a traditional Bukusu homestead, complete with appropriate makeup, costumes and round thatched huts.

Hats off to the director who expertly manages transitions pulling off what I thought only Nollywood can, without bluffs. The director, Bungoma based film producer Dennis Machio, expertly layers traditional African life, modern rural Africa and contemporary urban Africa lifestyles to recreate the experience of the 21st century African.

What Machio does plays on the heart and endures Mbe Omukhasi to its audience as we readily identify with the story lines in the video. As we are that generation of Africans lucky to be in touch with our roots and still experience 21st century life. Africans who, for instance, still pay bride price whilst still opting for a garden wedding.

With this composition, Steve Kay, popular for ‘more serious’ hits like Bayuda – a song on slavery in Bungoma- and Wambumuli -lamentations on a village cassanova- might have set after the thrones of pop icons like Diamond and Ali Kiba with Mbe Omukhasi. My submission is that he ended up with something more encompassing: A quintessentially Kenyan wedding song; a club banger; a cultural icon fronting harmony in diversity; a love song  and a short film depicting courting and marriage traditions of 21st century Africa.

Credits | Courtesy

  • Published on May 3, 2017. Mbe Omukhasi – loosely translated to mean Give me my wife – is a Luhya wedding song packaged as a new Luhya Pop Genre of music that fuses traditional Luhya style with Modern Popular genres. Watch and enjoy.
  • The audio was produced by celebrated producer Dominic Khaemba of Ageless Studio Nairobi while the Video was Directed, Filmed and Edited by Bungoma’s renown Film maker Dennis Machio.
  • Special thanks to all who participated in making this video a success including the Model Bride Shila Nafula , Sheila Muhonja , Mercy Simiyu , Marylin Tindi, Mzee Retired ” Moi”, Mama Africa, David Toywa, Fidel and all others.
  • Wedding outfit Provided by Mercy Charity – Bungoma
  • African attire Provided by Mama Africa – Bungoma
  • Make Up by Mercy Charity
  • Wedding venue and decor by Bungoma Sports Club
  • Posters and Graphics by Samuel Mabonga
  • Video Production by Michezo Afrika Media

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