Les Wanyika group to entertain Nairobi rhumba fans
After more than four decades, the original Les Wanyika members are back at the famous Garden Square Restaurant & Bar (now Garden Square by Ashaki Grill) in Nairobi where the band was formed in 1978.
Only two founder members will be in the 11-member band when it takes on stage at the iconic refurbished joint on November 25, 2023, as most have either died or fallen victim to the age toll.
Known for their Kiswahili lyrics that were popular and widely listened to on radio, vinyl records, and cassettes in East Africa and beyond, the band was formed when drummer Rashid Juma, guitarist Omar Shaban (deceased), bassist Tommy Malanga, saxophonist Sijali Zuwa and late Foni Mkwanyule broke away from Simba Wanyika.
They were later joined by guitarist John Ngereza, vocalists Issa Juma and Mohamed Tika Abdallah (all deceased), bassist Victor Boniface, vocalist Joseph Justy Shiayo, and guitarist Sammy Waingo.
Simba Wanyika had three brothers – Wilson, George, and William Kinyonga – who moved to Kenya from Tanzania in 1971 before the break-up of the East African Community in 1977.
Before restrictions were imposed on the Kenya/Tanzania border, musicians could travel between the countries at will.
Most of the crossings, however, were into Tanzania, where musical was already popular and bands could easily get state or corporate sponsorship.
Les Wanyika hit Sina Makosa, received a golden disk in 1978, and ultimately led to a disagreement that saw the group break up in 2006.