The ‘80s music that we could access consisted of off-cuts from Top of the Pops, a German music show on VOK (remember that video they were obsessed with about Kylie Minogue in a spacesuit), an all-American music show (I think the Mickey Mouse Club or something), and VOK also used to show music videos in-between progis. I remember Stephanie Powers singing “The Power of Love” between Habari Kwa Ufupi and Vituko, and “STOP! In the Name of Love” before Leonard Mambo Mbotela asked us “huu ni ungwana?” in his progi.

There were songs which embody the ‘80s like that song with the lyrics “pump, pump the jam, pump it up, why your beats are stumping..” There was also that song “Back to Life” (1990 I think) which was particularly poignant on the last day of the holls. Remember that song “teretetetere.. I love your smile,” and of course there was MC Hammer and that ‘running man’ craze. There was also ‘Take My Breath Away’ from the movie Top Gun, a Euro-pop song involving sailors, more Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan (singing “Too Many Broken Hearts in the World”) – anything they came out with was a hit because they were in Neighbours and personally if I missed even 5 minutes of a Neighbours episode I would raramika.

Kienyeji songs included Mariru, Mumunya (both by Sam Muthee), Kamaru songs, Benga (like Daniel Owino – mnakumbuka that song “Shauri Yako.. shauri yako eeh”), and I remember a song on Music Time by an elderly man singing “(something) (something) theremende.” Yvonne Chaka Chaka was also very popular, I remember Uquombothi (“wema sameni, wo uqombothi”) and a song about a DJ (“please, Mr DJ, I need you”). Aah then Lingala tokead. There were so many Lingala songs that I can’t remember them now, but I recall Kwasa Kwasa by Kanda Bongo Man. Other Lingala artists included Professor Namaan – that guy reportedly ate 30 eggs everyday. I also remember Tshala Mwana and Mbilia M’Bel; Lingala dancers used to be gymnastic and they followed that craze whereby women shaved off their eyebrows and drew a line starting above the eye and ending up in the forehead like antennae. I also remember Queen Jane and Them Mushrooms.

At some point people’s music “collections” in the ‘80s (these being pirate cassettes) shifted from general or Europop stuff to RnB. I kumbuka Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey when she was shy (I still love that song ‘Always be my baby’), Chaka Khan, Boys II Men (wooii remember when their music hit Nai). Rap was also becoming popular – those were the days of Public Enemy, NWA, Heavy D, Kid & Play, Salt & Pepa. As the ‘90s ingiad hip hop and RnB became more prominent but in the ‘80s any song from America/Europe was considered to be okay. I kumbuka some weird robot-type electro/techno type songs.

MJ dominated (“aauu”) as per kawa, as did people like Stevie Wonder (“I just called to say..”), Michael Bolton, Prince (Purple Rain, 1999), George Michael (that song “never gonna dance again” always reminds me of those days in the mid 80s). Kulikuwa na saxophone obsession kubwa sana. Kumbuka Cyndi Lauper (“girls just wanna have fun”), Whitney Houston with rainbow makeup (“wanna dance with somebody,” “one moment in time”), Tevin Campbell of course – every chick had a crush on him, Will Smith/Jazz’s collabos “Boom, boom shake the room” and “summertime.” Aah those were songs we loved.

When KTN ingiad there seemed to be an outburst of Kenyan musical groups. Kina Jimmy Gathu’s group (it had like twenty members) sang that song about road safety, Five Alive tokead, as did a group who sang about how “sorry depleted the mzungu’s ngombe;” there was also Swahili Nation. Oh and remember VOK/KBC bringing Taraab music on Sundays? That music was heavy on the ear with those accordion-type instruments and those mathes imploring us in conk Swaha, then the people in the audience would weka Ksh 20 notes on her. On Music Time there were Kienyeji songs involving a one-man-band: a guy would play a nyatiti, a percussion instrument, and also a flute at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking.

Yenyewe I can’t really remember music being that great in the ‘80s. I think that Nai people our age only really began to get into music in the ‘90s when, everywhere you turned, kulikuwa na ‘ziki hata kwa mathree. Kina SWV, Jodeci, TLC, Bone Thugs N Harmony, R Kelly were big names. By then everyone was obsessed with the “latest music” (latest in as far as it arrived on that progi at 6pm KTN, or on Fred Obachi Machoka’s ‘Music Time.’ Hakukuwa na any radio stations for teenies as far as I can remember). I kumbuka kids being told ati “you don’t know who Keith Sweat is? Haujasikia the latest Babyface song? Aah weh mshamba kabisa.” We were also obsessed with dance moves; the last one I bothered learning was the “shuffle.” There was also a dance move which involved moving the shoulders pekee, another one involved twisting the feet on tip-toes.

Woi how could I forget Kriss-Kross – what happened to them? Remember that song “Jump jump, mack daddy’ll make ya.. jump jump, Kriss-Kross will make ya.. jump jump.” They were pendwad by chicks sana. Aah- and New Kids on The Block!!! “Candy girl..” I think they sang. Also we didn’t consider Vanilla Ice to be uncool as a matter of fact “ice ice baby” and I also remember a male group called the “Spin doctors” singing “if you want to buy me flowers/ just go ahead now.”

Rock in the ‘80s was quite prominent. I recall Def Leppard, Sting, Bryan Adams “everything I do..” (from the Robin Hood movie) and some song about “living on the edge” until there were storos in the press about Rock being the devil’s music and ati there were hidden messages hapo ndani so Rock kinda became unpopular in Nai. Also we were told that playing such records backwards reveals hidden, sinister messages??

As a matter of fact we were also warned against rap (too violent), RnB (too suggestive), Country music (erm Kenny Rogers had a beard), Lingala (too excitement-inducing), Kienyeji songs (too Kienyeji), so I guess our only recourse ilikuwa to hum our own music.


At 2:34 pm, Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

Yes! I am the first one here :)

I remember that song .."piri pi pi pi maya ya!" No idea what it was called or who sung it. I don't even know all the words.

You are spot on with the whole 'Pump the Jam'. What about akina Salt n Pepa!

Was I the only one who like Guns N Roses (ok that was going into the 90s) but Welcome to The Jungle was and still is a great song.

The 80s also had a lot of power ballads. I think that is what I remember most:- "cos I am your laaaaaaaaadddeeeeeeeeey and you are my maaaaaaaaaaa aaaaa aaan" Oh man those songs.

Oh..and not to forgot the British greats. Musical Youth (Pass the dutchie pan de lef haan side), Madness(baggy trousers) Culture Club (karma karma chameleon)

And one last one.."footloose...footloose"

Ok ya mwisho kabisa...Madonna...she was the 80s.

Thank you again!

At 8:40 pm, Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

oooh...i forgot to say.

New Kids didn't sing "Candy Girl". That was New Edition

At 10:04 am, Blogger M said...

@ Mama J - Guns N Roses for life -- that song they did for the terminator soundtrack still rocks! And wasn't Candy Girl Jackson Five?

Was watching Gin and Juice on Channel O jana -- man, does Snoop age? That guy looks EXACTLY the same!!!

As for those ngomas I am a veteran there. My folks LOVED music and it's rubbed off

- The Spin Doctors ngoma was called Two Princes
- Kriss Kross grew up, discovered alcohol and the wild life and lost their charm and innocence
- That "I love your smile" ngoma was a chick calles Shanice (Not the first one hit wonder)
- "Take my breath away" was a group called Berlin
- The 'Lingala' that kicked inlcuded Tshala Muana, Mbilia Bel, Pepe Kalle and Tabu Lei
- Country was also very popular with the folks so us kids had to listen by force to Jim Reeves, Roger Whitaker, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton
- Also not to be forgotten are those west africans, akina Zangalewa (wacha the fake ones we have in Nai), and San Fan Thomas
- Lucky Dube had a SERIOUS cult following! A miro from Africa doing reggae? Jamaas behaved as if they knew him personally!

But at the end of the day, as you age you see that music hit its peak in the 70s-90s bracket. These remixes and samplings of these days tumechoka!

At 10:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you kumbuka Lionel Richie "All Night Long"

There is a part in the song where he says

"Jambo Nipe Centi Moja"

Is that really what he says?

He definitely says Party, Karamu, Fiesta Forever

At the time I had no idea what Kiswahili was so I just made up sounds at that part I knew it was some foreign language.

Years later my wife tells me that in Dar Es Salaam that's what everyone assumed he was saying.

I listened to it recently and that really could be what he's saying.

Anyone else remember that?

At 12:39 pm, Blogger M said...

Not to mention MJ's "Liberian Girl" telling a jamaa "Nakupenda pia, nakutaka pia"! Wot the heck?

At 2:21 pm, Blogger Adrian said...

wonderful memories once again!

yani you remember that story of professor namaan and his eggs and sausages?!

i also remember "i've got the power" (heavily supported by one fresh prince episode where that song featured prominently).

what happened to p.m. dawn? the only thing i remember from them is "set adrift on memory bliss".

i remember timing mats after school just to get the ones with good music.

wasn't there some exhibtion at kicc that started some time in the late 80s or early 90s. dancing competition and stuff?

At 2:21 pm, Blogger Adrian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:57 pm, Blogger M said...

LOL! Yeah, I kumbika "I got the power" that one was by Snap! I even remember the video of that good lady at a podium in a UN type thing....

Naaman used to pose at the Sagret Hotel, where he could be found eating himself into an early grave.

PM Dawn -- so sad, so sad. They were really good. They had a song "We Be Moving on Up" or something sometime back but have vanished since!

At 5:52 pm, Blogger nick said...

considering that am not amused to have checked this earlier i have to up my game and unleash some oldies but goodies-beat this guys!!!

-paula abdul:straight up,knock out,rush rush
-vanessa williams-save the best for last and love is
-Snow:informer,lonely lonely monday mornin
-Heavy D and the boys:now that we found love what are we gonna do
-marky mark and the funky bunch:smooth vibrations
-Gloria Estefan:turn the beat around
C and C music Factory:thingsthat make u go hmmmm!!!
-Salt N Pepa:Push it-i'd kill for that ring tone
-BBD:poison and do me
-Crystal waters:gypsy woman(she'homeless)
-MC Lyte-ruffneck
-Run DMC
-Joe Public:this one for you
-En Vogue:never gonna get it never gonna get it
-Do the bartman:bart simspon
-regulate:warren g
-zhane:groove thing
-how about the worst collabo ever:MJ and Eddie murphy-whats up wit you!!!!!

At 2:00 pm, Anonymous Memoire said...

Woah guys you kumbuka songs I'd forgotten!!! @MJ yes those power ballads went too far lakini I think I they were mzuri esp at the end of a movie

@M woi how could I sahau San Fan Thomas Obachi Machoka used to penda wekaaing him - oh and Snap were such a hit lakini some people semad ati "I've got the power" has sinister undertones! A related song was "money talks.. dirty cash.." lakini sikupenda hiyo materialism!

@anon yep that's what Lionel sang, today centis dont even exist in Kenya

@Adrian oh yeah I kumbuka that KBC dancing compe, some guys were doing really good routines and kila mtu would tune in

@Nick we used to sing that song "Informer" to the prefo when she/he wrote our names as noisemakers, as usual you have mob more memories

hah-hah keep the memories coming y'all!!

At 7:12 pm, Anonymous Pimpala said...

In my youth my zack incessantly annoyed me with his quickness to play a lingala LP at any time bila provocation. Tshala Muana, Franco, Tabu Ley, Sam Mangwana, Franco, Mbilia Bell, did I already mention FRANCO!! Man!!
Now here is the kicker, I'm now extremely into Franco's music, since I moved to the states, I've bought a sizable number of his CD's on Amazon for close to $28.00 a piece and I've also had my Dad bring me over any of the older LP's. It's crazy, we've never really had a common interest, and I'm glad Franco ,whose guitar wizardry was an indelible presence in our house since I was a tot, has becoming our common interest.

At 4:41 am, Blogger Medusa said...

Mama J- I almost chocked laughing..ati piriri pi pi..roflmbao!! I just heard that song at a buddies last week.
Memoire- This is too much. It's weird though, I know soo much music, but can rarely remember the artists name.
I was Madonna. Had this dress I wore,and my mom's pearls..singing to 'like a virgin'..wacha tu..
Oh.. Colonel Abrams(?)- Trapped
I'd sing this loud enough for mathe to hear when she said no to going outside..lol

At 3:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is really amazing stuff. Yaani kidos nowadays dont jua what they are missing. That really hot dance group was called 'rare watts' and they used to dress like massais complete with akalas and spears. They won a Fiat Uno!!! Yaani what those 3 tall men did with that ka-Fiat Uno, I can't understand. But kicc would get so packed just to watch them. Mpaka kbc started wekaing them as fillers in between programmes.

At 7:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can still rap like snow in informer till today! Thanks for the memories!

At 12:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 8:58 am, Blogger gishungwa said...

Remember the song befor e going to shule " hata wewe mwanangu amka kumekucka kwani hizi ndizo saa za kwenda shule uvivu ndio adui wa maendeleo...."
What about URTNA that was hotter than hot wewe.
the blackest man in black africa, the shuffle, pirate(hae) and shoulders....

At 8:58 am, Blogger gishungwa said...

Remember the song befor e going to shule " hata wewe mwanangu amka kumekucka kwani hizi ndizo saa za kwenda shule uvivu ndio adui wa maendeleo...."
What about URTNA that was hotter than hot wewe.
the blackest man in black africa, the shuffle, pirate(hae) and shoulders....


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