Top 20 Luhya songs you should listen to
Gladys Mokeira Obiero|April. 09, 2019
Luhya tribe is one of the largest ethnic communities in Kenya. This is due to the unique culture and customs, traditional foods, heritage and the legends in the community. Music is such an essential aspect of their culture. Luyha songs talk about almost everything in the society; politics, initiation processes, social vices in the community, ceremonies like birth and marriages, sad events like funerals, and the celebration of life. The tracks have a unique beat. One can easily tell if a song is from the western part of the country even before listening to the lyrics.
What sets Luhya artistes who sing traditional music apart from their counterparts is how they deliver their message. One common trait in the tracks is the incorporation of conversations and greetings in some scenarios in between the music lines. This feature is typical with artists across all ages who sing in the language. Famous musicians from the community who have been in the industry for decades include Jacob Luseno, David Barasa, Emmanuel Musindi, Pius Wafula, Sukuma Bin Ongaro and Sila Wa Sila. Bands like Kayamba Roots and Webuye Jua Kali are also loved in the region. This article lists down top 20 Luhya songs you will love.
1. Mulongo - Kayamba Roots
’Mulongo’ is a circumcision song that is sung by Luhyas during the initiation process. The song has been a hit since its release with the Kayamba Roots band performing it in the various events they are invited to. Mulongo has a catchy tune that would make you love the language. The song became so popular that it now gets played on occasions which are far from initiation occasions.
2.Tindikiti Yaya - David Barasa featuring Webuye Jua Kali
This is one of those David Barasa classics that are popular across Luhya land. The track is often played in social gatherings like weddings, men’s beer sessions, or celebrating achievements in the society. He sings about moving with the Tindikiti rhythm, as he and others dance to the music. Tindikti Yaya is definitely among the best Luyha songs you need to listen to.
3. Mama Mulayi - Ongidi Vincent
This hit is a tribute to all mothers for the great work they do in raising kids and taking care of families. The video is accompanied by slow dances which are in sync with the tempo of the song. This song highlights the responsibilities mothers are tasked with. The chorus is a little contentious, as the impression it gives is that mothers are better than fathers. The comparison may cause a debate because both parents are essential to the children and the growth of the family.
4. Bindu Bichenjanga - Amos Barasa
‘Bindu Bichenjanga’ loosely translates to ‘things change’. Amos Barasa’s hit was used as one of the political anthems during the 2017 election year. The hilarious visuals complement the funny but witty lines in the track. Amos shares a message in the song, especially for leaders who are only available when asking for votes but disappear after they have been elected. He talks about the new constitution that was promulgated in August 2010 and the digital transformation that happen in the country when the regimes change.
5. Khalikha - David M. Barasa
David M. Barasa is known for making feel-good songs, and ‘Khalikha’ is one of them. The song is sung in a high tempo and is accompanied by traditional instruments to complement his style. He incorporated ‘Kamabeka’ dancing style which involves shaking one’s shoulders to the rhythm. Famous TV comedian Aplhonce Makacha Makokha made a cameo in the video, creating a light moment before the video starts.
6. Awinja - Sauti Sol
‘Awinja’ is one of the songs that introduced the boy band Sauti Sol to the world. The track is from their 2011 album ‘Sol Filosofia’ and talks about women and their roles in the family. Chimano’s baritone, Polycarp’s guitar skills, Delvine’s lines and how Bien Aime flows with the group is what makes ‘Awinja’ a special track. ‘Awinja’ is about appreciating mothers and celebrating the work they do. The video has images of prominent female figures, showing how motherhood is essential.
7. Lipala - Kayamba Roots
This is another massive tune from Kayamba Roots. ' Lipala' is a popular dance that is loved in the Western part of Kenya. Sauti Sol did the Lipala dance in ‘Sura Yako’ song in 2014 hence introducing the moves to a much larger audience. They also taught former USA president Obama how to make the moves during his state visit to Kenya in 2015. The original ‘Lipala’ remains a classic that is loved across the nation and played in community events.
8. Mukangala - Jacob Luseno
‘Mukangala’ tells the story of a mischievous boy who instead of doing his domestic duties, assumes the position of his boss and mimics the things he does. He wears his boss’s suits and acts all mighty. The video has a little dramatisation which makes it easy for one to follow the story in the song. The guitar and rhythm are excellent and the tune melodic. Jacob Luseno sang well and had excellent vocals.
9. Bukula Indika - Ongidi Vincent
The instrumentals alone will make you enjoy Ongidi’s sound. The track mentions how important a bicycle is especially in homes. Luhyas have for the longest time loved using bicycles as a form of transport. It is a treasure and will never lack in most homesteads. Times may have changed as people now prefer using motorbikes, but the two-wheeler remains efficient in most traditional Luhya homes.
10. Kila Siku Suku - Sukuma Bin Ongaro
Sukuma Bin Ongaro may have been complaining about a bunch of things in this track, but that does not make it any less tuneful. There is no way such a track can play without you getting on your feet to enjoy the music. He sings about women bothering him, kids stealing his cassavas and toying with him. One can see the energy in the musician’s face as he sings. He sounds so real that one would empathise with him.
11. Mbe Omukhasi - Steve Kay
‘Mbe Omukhasi’ is Luhya for ‘give me a wife’. The song is a great wedding tune with traditional beats and sweet lines. The artist mixed Luhya and Swahili words in the track which has a few traditional elements and a modern touch. He used some words-plays in parts of his verses which are amusing and thoughtful. He also makes his vows to the girl he wants. Steve Kay’s ‘Mbe Omukhasi’ can be classified as a Luhya pop song.
12. Khutis Ingo - Jacob Luseno
The song has a comical skit between a married couple in a disagreement. The direct translation of English words in the skit makes the dramatisation funnier. ' Khutis Ingo' translates to 'let's go home'. The message in the song is about going home and how important a stable home is. The beats in the song have a typical Luhya sound, with a great fusion of the guitar. Jacob Luseno wanted to highlight the issue of people who go to live in foreign lands, forgetting their native homes.
13. Bayudah - Steve Kay
‘Bayudah’ by Steve Kay is a song that urges the Luhya people to unite for the betterment of the community. The artiste used a biblical reference in this 2015 record. The video has a rural setting, like most Steve’s tracks. The beautiful hit is accompanied by vigorous ‘Kamabeka’ dancing and a great rhythm. The artist uses symbolism and biblical references to pass his message. ‘Bayudah’ is a great tune that encourages love and togetherness.
14. My Dear - Webuye Jua Kali Band
This classic by Webuye Jua Kali Band has been a banger for years. ‘My Dear’ is a love song which has all the sweet-nothings a woman who is being hit on loves to hear. The beats are fierce, the tune musical and the lines harmonious. The band corrupted some English words to make them sound like Luhya words and to add more weight to the message. It is a beautiful song regardless.
15. Amapesa - Sukuma Bin Ongaro
In this track, Sukuma Bin Ongaro wonders what became of the world because money took over everything. The musical artiste narrates how the woman he loved left him and went for another rich man because he could not maintain her. The take on this song is there cannot be any romance without the money factor because every other thing requires cash. This song may have been recorded a few years back, but it will always remain relevant as long as money is the currency people use to survive.
16. Sena Lwanyi - Emmanuel Musindi
Sena Lwanyi is Luhya for ‘step outside’. Emmanuel Musindi made a beautiful song with talented dancers who danced their hearts out in this entertaining video. The phrase ‘Sena Lwanyi’ is repeated throughout the entire song as Emmanuel sings different lines. This track is loved by many because of how subtle the lyrics are and how every dancer coordinated their steps. There is no harm in dancing a little when such cool traditional jams play.
17. Chapa Ilale - Wilber Wanyama
Chapa Ilale by Wilbert Wanyama is a feel-good track, especially for the males. The instrumentals, flow of verses, and melody will have you listen to the track the whole night. The instrumentals are on point and the wording distinct for the subject matter. You will hear ululations once in a while, a common thing in traditional Kenyan folklore dances. This hit also shares the message of peace through greetings.
18. Endika - Samuel Namatete
This Samuel Namatete record has the themes of disloyalty, greed, and betrayal. ‘Endika’ is about a man who ran away with someone else’s wife. ‘Endika’ is a bicycle, but it is used to symbolise a woman in this song. The different instruments played in the song include the drum, Wandindi, and the Nyatiti. The mood of the track is sorrowful, and one can feel the sadness in the lead singer’s voice. One good thing about this track is how everyone plays a different instrument but everything syncs to give that perfect sound.
19. Siananda Wefwe - Kenneth Khaemba
This song was made to honour the eighth vice president of Kenya Kijana Wamalwa. The former vice president was not just an icon in Western Kenya politics. He was a national leader who was hailed as progressive and a role model to many. Other national leaders who are mentioned in the song include Mukhisa Kituyi, Mwai Kibaki, Moody Awori and Moses Wetangula among others. This is such a fantastic track to remember the former vice president.
20. Wambumuli - Steve Kay
One would be forgiven for thinking that this song was made for a happy occasion because of how pleasant it sounds. The main message in this Steve Kay track is how morally decayed today’s society has become. The message is however not lost in the sweet beats and fantastic tune. The hit will force you to be up on your feet because of the soft rhythm and catchy hook.
Luhya songs are always accompanied by dancing. The dancing may be energetic or smooth depending on the tempo of the track. Dances like Lipala, Isikuti, and Kamabeka have spread not only in the Western region but also across the country. Music in Luhya land is evolving. The old styles will forever be gems, but new artists are infusing some techniques to make their tracks more entertaining and relatable to their audiences. I hope you enjoyed listening to our top hits!
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