Kenyan Musicians Shaping 2022 Politics

  • raila odinga trio mio
    ODM Leader Raila Odinga acknowledges a fist bump from musician Trio Mio during the Azimio la Umoja launch on December 10, 2021
  • Kenyan musicians have always played a critical role in popularising political parties and candidates every electoral year and 2022 is not an exception. 

    The artists use their talents and power of music to influence voting patterns as well as spice up political rallies and entertain the crowds.

    Recently, during the Bukhungu II event convened by Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, one such musician stood out.

    Emmanuel Musindi of the famed Lelo ni Lelo Luhya hit song crowned the moment of the day with a moving performance as the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, Raila Odinga, made his way into the stadium. In fact, when Raila stood to speak, he implored the event’s DJs to play his song rather than Azimio La Umoja’s theme song.

    “Stop causing confusion. I want you to play Lelo ni Lelo,” said Raila as he immediately broke into dance soon as the popular hit was played.

    William Ruto Exray
    Deputy President William Ruto shares a photo moment with Musician Exray Taniua at his Karen Residence in Nairobi

    Slightly over a fortnight earlier, during the Azimio La Umoja national convention at the Kasarani Stadium, yet another musician hit the headlines.

    Mario TJ Kasela, popularly referred to as Trio Mio, headlined the event with a moving performance. The teenager, who is still pursuing his secondary school education, performed the “Sipangwingwi” hit in front of a mammoth jubilant crowd, in an event beamed live across main TV stations.

    Trio Mio went on to earn a photo opportunity with Raila, a moment that was well factored into the day’s program of events. His partner in the Sipangwingwi hit, Exray Taniua, on the flip side, made a public appearance in Deputy President William Ruto's campaign trail in 2021.

    Soon after their meetup, the Deputy President would soon invoke the catchphrase “Hatupangwingwi” in his rallies. The catchphrase implores voters not to allow certain individuals to decide on their behalf who their next President shall be.

    In the run-up to the 2017 elections, two musicians stood out. Emma Jalamo of the famed NASA hit song saw his composition, sang in the Luo dialect, played at almost all events convened to drum up support for Raila and the then National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition.

    On the other hand, Ben Githae produced yet another major hit, “Tano Tena”, which implored voters to give President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto yet another chance under the Jubilee Party.

    In 2002, GidiGidi MajiMaji, a popular hip hop band, saw their top hit "Unbwogable" get traction as Mwai Kibaki trounced KANU's Uhuru Kenyatta in the presidential race.

    DNA and P-Unit's "Una" hit song was also dominant in the 2007 presidential election.

    Raila Odinga Ben Githae
    Musician Ben Githae performs at a past Raila Odinga function convened by Royal Media Services Chairman SK Macharia