The King of Ohangla

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Disclaimer: The featured image is not what I wanted to use. I’m still trying to get the hang of the new WordPress and how to upload your own images. I don’t see the option to upload the featured image from my computer. See below for a pic of the real king of ohangla.

Ladies and gentlemen, the real king of ohangla- His Tibimness Tony Nyadundo.

First, let me make this clear. I do NOT hate Prince Indah. Neither do I like him. I feel about him the same way I feel about eating chapati with anything else apart from beans. Once in a while, I think it slaps, but most of the time I think it should be outrightly banned. However, I respect the opinions of anyone who thinks chapati with anything else is an elite mean even though I’d recommend a Covid-19 test because their lack of taste is very apparent.

To me, Prince Indah and Octopizzo belong to the same wozzap group. I mean I respect that they are hardworking Kenyans trying to make an honest living. But I always wish they could find alternative ways of securing the bag. Or at least have the decency to stop calling themselves the kings of their respective music genres. Unless they want to the kings of making our ears bleed. Then that’s great! How can you be the king of rap when your best bars are “it’s a wrap kama Moi?” Even Nadia Mukami can come up with better bars.

Anyway, we are not here to talk about a grown man who was okay with singing “get that mula, buy that ndula” 900 years after mula and ndula had been struck off the sheng dictionary. He is simply not worthy of our time and breath. We apologize for digressing.

We are here to talk about the king of ohangla. Who is not Prince Indah. Technically, Prince Indah is not even an ohangla artist. You see, ohangla is a Luo musical instrument that the common folklore says is made from the skin of a monitor lizard. Think of it as a drum that has a workout plan and is, therefore, slimmer and taller and also has one end uncovered. Have you ever seen such an instrument in a Prince Indah performance? Hell to the fucking NO! Heck, he doesn’t even sing in his live performances. He lip-syncs. Never my king!

You see that green and white thing, the one in Gor Mahia colors? That is the ohangla. Image/ Singing Wells

If we are to go by the textbook definition of ohangla, then there are very few ohangla artists in the Luo music scene. Tony Nyadundo, Jack Nyadundo, Otieno Aloka, Osogo Winyo, Ouma Basement, Odosh Jasuba, etc. I could go on forever. But at the end of it all, Prince Indah and Emma Jalamo will not be anywhere near the list. Maybe they should see themselves as Luo benga artists, because there’s no prescribed way of making benga music. Even then, we have Osito Kalle and Dola Kabari among other living Luo benga legends so Indah and Jalamo still have no chance of being kings in that category either.

But if we are to apply modern solutions to modern problems and allow keyboard music to pass as ohangla music, then Prince Indah and Emma Jalamo are very good ohangla artists. I would have added Musa Jakadalla to the list but he dropped out of the race for kingship (actually, Jalamo dropped out too but his two fans will throw tantrums if I don’t mention him). But they are not the kings of ohangla. Not now, not ever. They are not even pretenders to the throne. Anyway, why should we relax the rules to favor your favorite candidates? This is not ODM. You don’t see Isikuti being made using keyboards. 

I understand that it’s not sustainable, and a huge safety risk, to keep hunting monitor lizards for their skin in order to make ohangla but still… 

I know they lied to you that they would take ohangla international so you hastily crowned them your kings. I’ve got news for you sweetie (no sane ohangla-loving man believes that Indah is truly the king of ohangla). 

Ohangla was already international even before your favorite discovered Barikiwa Studios. By the time your beardless Mr. Tight Pants was getting into the music scene, ohangla music was already well-established internationally. Tony Nyadundo had already performed tours of the US and European countries. Same as Jack Nyadundo, Odongo Mayaka, Ouma Basement, and Onyi Papa Jey among others. Your king is yet to even have a tour of the land of Ssebo. Calm your tits. Just because he sings ohangla in Swahili and makes English lyric videos (so that aunty wa harrier can understand his lyrical prowess) doesn’t make him the king of ohangla. 

After all, ohangla is not to be understood by people who don’t speak Luopean. Lwanda Magere did not have his shadow speared for this. Imagine having to translate to Njeri and Shiko the meaning of “kata ibed jachode, ka tho ochopo to condom ema iweyo.” I’m sure our Kikuyu girlfriends wouldn’t like that. It is not to be understood. It is just to be enjoyed and danced to. Whoever wants to understand ohangla music should learn Luopean first. That’s just the way it is. Did you not listen to Ngugi wa Thiong’o when he said that the oilskin of the house is not for rubbing onto the skin of a stranger in The River Between? 

The people who took ohangla international did so without translating their songs. The Germans, the British, the French, and even the Scandinavians danced to Isanda Gi Hera without asking what it meant. 

Watch this and tell me he isn’t the real king of this thing

For now, Tony Nyadundo is the undisputed King of Ohangla. When he finally rests, because we are all mere mortals, we shall decide on his successor. And you can rest assured it won’t be Prince Indah. This is not up for debate. Go and argue with your local area chief. Ok achayo jathum. 

PS: Chike Hera was great. Everything else after Sing Along was bang average. Kienyeji.

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