Serabi band rocks Doa doa

07:21 by Kaggwa Andrew
Like a chuckle of fire wood at boot camps, the laughter and smell of happiness. It’s the sound of Serabi band from Kenya – that vaguely witchy clash of Maddox Ssematimba’s Reggae, Eric Wainana’s Afro Beat, Kofi Olomide’s Lingala and somewhere forming a marriage with common pop cultures like Rock and roll – all this comes on top of lead singer Nelson Mandela’s (yes, that’s his name) husky but strong vocals.
The band was performing at National Theatre last week, during the opening ceremony of the third annual network programme Doa Doa.
The striking thing about their performance was a fact that even when none of their songs was in English, they surprisingly got each one of us on our feet.
It was that sort of a perfect concert where people don’t turn up to listen to a particular song by the main cast and then head for the car parks – a very common syndrome that has haunted many crossover success like Kenya’s Jaguar, Tanzania’s Mr. Nice or even Jamaican duos of Brick and Lace and RDX.
No, this crowd was here to experience all the romp, rumba and undulating songs about freedom, never giving up and togetherness that have made them the next force in East African music.
The group of eight was formed in 2005, comprising of slum kids - Isabella Were, Peter Mbau, Harun Waceke, Adam Mwadama, Bernard Oduor, Anthony Kimangu, John Maluni and Nelson Mandela, then aged between 11 and 13.
They have since gone on to cement their position as one of the most talented Afro Fusion bands in Kenya through their imagination, vision and creation.
Without a hit in Uganda, the group was going to face a hard time on that stage and making matters worse, the Umeme connived with the sound system to develop certain habbits, but this didn’t stop them. Instead, they delivered a professional polished kind of pin point precision expected of a well-traveled band.
On the song most of us sang along to, whose title we suspect was Sio Lazima, a bare feet Mandela walked towards the crowd and split the group’s story in both Swahilli and English – the struggles of growing up less priviledged, not being the best in school, and all those things that make girls cry in movies. That performance was engaging, electric and emotional at the same time.
Their performance may have been brief – at two hours, but it showed why Kenyan music stillleads the East African pack. They are not afraid to experiment.
“if only our local artistes can borrow a leaf from these boys, our music will saved,” said one of the revelers at the show.
Earlier on, Lawrence Okello had put on a spirited performance alongside Micheal Bazibu, as they took us on a journey of traditional instruments from Uganda.
After four days of interactions, workshops and showcases, the Doa Doa arts market was concluded on Saturday with performances by Qwela, Grace Matata and Swahilli Ally among others.

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