Inside Uhuru’s Love Affair With Reggae

  • On the night of Saturday, February 2, President Uhuru Kenyatta was captured dancing the night away during a UB40 concert held at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi. 

    While this took some Kenyans by surprise, President Kenyatta has previously professed his love for the group and reggae music in multiple past interviews.

    "I'm stuck in a certain age. My favourite musicians are UB40, Bob Marley and Gregory Isaacs," he told popular comedian Daniel 'Churchill' Ndambuki during an appearance on his TV show in 2011. 

    In a 2017 interview with Radio Jambo presenter Daniel Githinji Mwangi, better known as Mbusii, and his co-host Cyrus ‘Liondeh’ Afune, Uhuru named Stir It Up, Redemption Song and Three Little Birds by Bob Marley as some of his favourite songs of all time.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta joins FBI Dance Crew in a dance at State House, Nairobi on February 8, 2017

    Uhuru’s love affair with reggae is nothing unusual in Kenya where the genre truly blew up in the late '70s and '80s.

    Clubs such as Monte Carlo Nightclub along Nairobi's Accra Road, Shashamane International and Hollywood Club built a reputation for themselves in the '80s with their reggae roots-themed nights, drawing fans in large numbers.

    As Uhuru’s favourite artists such as Gregory Isaacs and UB40 were topping the charts, popular reggae DJs emerged, with the late Papa Lefty, Papa Charlie and Selector King Monday being considered among the pioneers.

    Reggae took the country by storm and has undeniably influenced various facets of life from music, youth culture, religion and language with sheng (urban slang) borrowing several words and phrases from Jamaican patois.

    In recent times, many of the world’s biggest reggae artists have performed in the country, with Kenya widely considered the leading African reggae destination. Chronixx, Richie Spice, Luciano, Jah Cure, Etana, Chris Martin, and Romain Virgo are among new-age reggae and dancehall sensations to have headlined shows in Kenya.

    A concert billed as the biggest show of 2020 so far, will take place on Saturday, February 15 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on with Grammy award-winning reggae legend Buju Banton set to headline.

    Banton is a fan favourite among reggae lovers in the country with numerous timeless hits such as Destiny and Hills and Valleys.

    Since his release from prison in 2018, after seven years in jail on drug-related charges, Buju has been making waves globally and his name has been the subject of many conversations.

    His recent singles such as Trust and Holy Mountain, which incorporates global superstar DJ Khaled, have gained traction and created a new generation of Buju Banton fans.

    In a conversation with Kenyans.co.ke, a highly-placed source at NRG Radio disclosed that the media station had gone all out to ensure revellers had the time of their lives at the show.

    “Everyone attending can rest assured that they’ll be safe and they’ll have the best possible experience at the event. We haven’t left anything to chance.

    “We’ve also contracted G4S for security and we’ve put arrangements in place to ensure amenities for revellers are easily accessible,” our source revealed.

    Tickets for the event are available by dialling *229*99# or via ticketing website, Mookh, with various offers designed to suit your needs. This includes the 'Girlentines' and 'Mens Conference' offers in which one can buy two regular tickets and get one free all for Ksh 4,000.

    A poster for the NRG Wave: Legends Edition Concert featuring Buju Banton scheduled for Saturday, February 15

    Watch a video of Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga dancing at the UB40 concert below: