That the Akorino Football Club is fighting for a chance to join the Kenya Premier League, and the Akorino DJ group is about to be launched in the gospel music scene shows that the traditional religious group is fast changing with the times.
They are now joining the league of top event organisers in the country and an all-Akorino dancing group is on a heavy choreography program ready to join the local dancing scene. Just what are these turbaned men and women up to?
“We are here to stay and grow the Akorino brand to a much higher level,” says Allan Aaron, the turbaned musician from Nakuru who hit the local music scene by storm in 2009.
A few years back, the Akorino would rarely be seen in the local showbiz industry. According to Elijah Nyagah, better known as DJ Nyash, the Akorino’s were basically unapproachable.
“We have all grown up in such a way that lots of people never used to talk to us as freely as we would have loved,” he says. There are many times he would attend gospel concerts and look like the odd one out because of the turban.
“All I got was stares from all over, as if I was completely in the wrong place,” recalls DJ Nyash.
But all that is different now. They are organising events that are flocked by the non-turbaned music fans and more people are ready to mingle with them freely, he says.
“Musicians from all over Kenya are ready to work with us, unlike before, and we are doing many collabos too,” says Aaron, who came into the industry with the song ‘Wimutheru’, that mixed both the Akorino rhythm and the urban hip-hop beat.
But how did the revolution start?
“We had many Akorino artistes like Hezeh Ndung’u, Sam Nene, Zachary Wandaro, among others. Their music played mostly in River Road and rural areas and had a different audience that listened to it,” explains Aaron.
“However, that music has not been appealing to our generation of young people. We wanted something different in the market and that’s what we had to change.”
And they changed the dance styles too to appeal to the youth, says Joseph ‘Kahoz’ Wahome, the head dancer in Alan Aaron’s team.
“If the beats and music style had to change, our dance styles had to follow suit,” says Kahoz.
And with this, they all moved from River Road to a new audience, something that caused a stir in the showbiz industry. Was the reaction by their church positive?
“At first, not at all,” says Steve Nene, veteran musician Sam Nene’s son. “Church elders would not understand our music any more and they thought we are getting lost.”
But they were determined to move towards that direction, which bore fruits later on, says Aaron.
“You see, the youths were bored in church with the same old style of music and rules. With our new style, we attracted them back to church. The church elders noticed that and they started agreeing with us,” he says.
Nene explains that they have also grown up in a generation that has been exposed to technology, something that many Akorinos were not allowed to use.
“If you look at the Akorino doctrine during the time of our grandfathers, they were not allowed to own TVs, radios, use matatus or even eat at your neighbour’s house. People used to carry their own food when they travel. Our parents changed that and allowed us to enjoy everything in the world, and that’s why we are different,” explains Nene.
Notable fact is situations where they have received bad press in the process.
“Having a turban does not necessarily mean that one is a born again Christian. The turban is just a religious requirement. If a Mukorino artiste is found in a bar drinking, which has been reported before, they are among the few lost sheep. But just to make it clear, we are born again Christians and we live by that,” says Aaron.
And they are all ready to grow and protect the Akorino brand.
“The truth is, more young people are seeing the value of having a turban, unlike before. People in the showbiz industry are not looking at us as ‘others’, but have embraced us well,” says DJ Nyash, who owns Kona Stone Entertainment, an events and artistes management company.
He also has a radio show every Sunday evening on Homeboyz Radio, called ‘Trinity Connect’.
Aaron is also mentoring young artistes in the industry using his Alan World Music label.
“As much as we are in the music business, we are also trying our best to sustain our ministry. After I became a household name, we used to hire cars so much to attend shows all over the country,” says Aaron.
“When I managed to buy my own car, Nene, who has also been my dancer, decided to start Nesh Auto, a car hire company. My other dancer, Kahoz, is also into fine arts and training Akorino dancers for future shows and competitions. So we are here to stay.”
The turban will stay too. “It is our security. People trust us more and police rarely arrest us. We are prophets of God’s word and we shall do all we can to spread the message to our generation in a language that they understand,” says DJ Nyash.