Kenya Special's musical history lesson
- Kenya Special's musical history lesson
Legendary musician DK Mwai discusses a newly released compilation documenting the hey days of east African sound
Driving north from Nairobi on the new super-highway, the Kilimambogo hills rises slowly ahead of us. My travel companion is Emmanuel Mwendwa, who has spent the past two years researching, licencing, collecting old photos and writing liner notes for the Kenya Special compilation recently released by Soundway Records.
Emmanuel talks about this intriguing archaeological music venture, described in a Guardian review as a "fabulously entertaining history lesson", and the challenges in tracking down the musicians featured on the anthology. He managed to find almost all of them, or their families, with the exception of the much-fabled Slim Ali of the Hodi Boys band. Rumour has it that Ali is somewhere in the Emirates, but not even his relatives are sure.
Kenya Special album cover
We are heading to Thika to meet one of the musicians Emmanuel did locate, the legendary Daniel Kamau Mwai, or just DK as he is popularly known. DK has three tracks on the Kenya Special collection and is also featured on the cover of the anthology. He tells me the cover photo was taken at a concert at the Bata Shoe Company in Limuru in 1979. His extraordinary sideburns were already his trademark then and 34 years later they still impress.