Ohangla meets rhumba at 28th Koroga Festival

Wednesday December 18 2019

Kanda Bongo Man , King of the Soukous dance rhythm on stage during the 28th edition of the Koroga Festival at the Bomas of Kenya on December 1, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU


Fans of both Ohangla and Rhumba music got to experience an afternoon of the most loved African music from the best artists in the genre.

Steve Kay and Emma Jalamo, both from Kenya, and M'bilia Bel and Kanda Bongo Man from the Democratic Republic of Congo, performed at the 28th edition of the Koroga Festival held on the afternoon of Sunday December 1, 2019 at the Bomas of Kenya Auditorium.

The two-day festival was affected by the heavy Saturday downpour, forcing organizers to change the venue from the outdoor grounds to the main auditorium. The heavy rains left the grounds flooded and muddy.


Rhumba slowly trickled into the new set up venue from afternoon, all glammed up and ready for an afternoon of afro-fusion from the all-star line-up.

The change of venue did not deter anyone from soaking in the full experience. The likes of Fred Machoka and Leonard Mambo Mbotela were present, best known for promoting the music of Benga and Rhumba in Kenya.


Steve Kay and Emma Jalamo both performed on stage for nearly an hour, backed with a live band, dancers and drummers to give the western feel to the music.

One fact that was evident with the dancers of both artists was the influence of the Gengetone genre.

They gyrated and twerked their behinds to the music, akin to the videos of this new wave of music; from doing full splits to dancing while balancing a bottle on the head, to bending over a male dancer and shaking their behinds for him.


Before the two final acts got on stage, fans were kept waiting for nearly 40 minutes with a deejay set which was not so well done.

The Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amina Mohamed got on stage to greet the fans which didn’t go down well with the fans as she was booed off the whole time she was on stage, no amount of convincing could stop the crowd from stopping until she walked off stage.

M’bilia Bel got on stage from 7.35pm to 8.25pm and sang her most popular songs, including Nakei Nairobi, which left everyone on their feet as they sang along. Despite having sound issues during her set, she carried on singing, flanked by her two dancers.


M'bilia Bel with her dancers performing on stage during the 28th edition of the Koroga Festival at the Bomas of Kenya on December 1, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

Kanda Bongo Man got on stage at 8.50pm. He last performed in Kenya at the same venue back in 1991, and was more than happy to be back to where he feels home.

He finished off his set with his best track, Monie, after he performed hit songs Muchana and Sweet Elizabeth.

His one-hour show lived up to his fame of being the king of the soukous style, as fans whined their waists and placed their best foot forward as they danced the last few minutes of the concert as it wrapped up.

Despite the change of venue and sound issues, the venue filled up, leaving most fans on their feet the whole concert.

The show lived up to its hype. Fans went home with a rhumba-like feeling in their hearts.