Atemi Oyungu – Nairobi

Diva Inc/EnnovatorMusic/Pinecreek Records; 2013

A lot has changed in the 50 years that Kenya has existed as an independent nation. The gains have come together with their shortcomings on whichever aspect you examine. The arts, film, music and culture scene has not been spared of these double sided developments. A lot of progress has been made – our productions are quickly approaching world class standards even as we adopt foreign approaches to help us tell the Kenyan story.

One of the most identifiable losses is how much the sense of patriotism was transmitted through music has faded. The sort of songs that are still being used to identify with the Kenyan spirit are decades old (Kenya Nchi Yetu, My Land Is Kenya, Hakuna Matata etc.). Let’s not also forget the fading away of the conveyor belt that manufactured the numerous Moi-era crony worship songs in the 90s – good riddance to that! Whatever happened to the schools mass choir that graced national holiday events? Anyway,  the only song that has seemed REALLY to stir the patriotic fire in recent times is Eric Wainaina’s Daima. Correct me if I am wrong. However, the point remains that there is a huge gap to fill when it comes to this type of content. Well, singer Atemi Oyungu is the first to step forward and fill this gap with her latest single Nairobi.

Produced through Ennovator Music/Pinecreek Records and published via Taurus Musik, Nairobi is a laid back and soulful Afro-jazz tribute to our capital city that millions of Kenyans here and abroad identify with and call home. Atemi’s vocal presence is profoundly felt throughout the track in a way that brings to mind the late great Miriam Makeba. The warmth and optimistic feel of the overall production makes it pleasurable to listen to over and over again. The music video basically takes us through various landmarks and defining moments that characterize city life in Nairobi, in between rooftop shots of Atemi and her band doing their thing (and a notable appearance by Timothy Rimbui somewhere in there). Well it is an acceptable video for the song, though it would have been nice to see a broader perspective of the city like more scenes of Nairobians gong about their business for example, or an end to end journey of the entire city from Ruai to Rongai perhaps – anything to add variety to the concept.


Nairobi sounds like one of those tunes that MUST be played if we decide to hold celebrations marking 50 years of celebrations, amid all the controversies. Watch this space. The response to the track will be of keen interest as it does the publicity rounds in the coming weeks.