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Sudanese singers find a second home


After graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree in music from Maseno University in 2010, Marvin Abwao decided to seriously follow his passion by becoming a music producer.

It was no easy task, however, as the local scene is filled with all kinds of producers of music, some of dubious quality.

Starting off was not easy as he faced plenty of challenges. In 2013, he was able to establish a recording studio, Marvin Records, at Langa Langa Estate in Nakuru Town.

In its first year of operation, one of Marvin Records’s productions was, My Will, a song by a group of South Sudanese musicians. The song was well-received by the Sudanese community, and so a partnership between Marvin and the singers was born.

Since then, Marvin Records has been exclusively serving Sudanese musicians. It is now a second home to the singers, most of whom are unable to exploit their talent back home due to lack of security.

“Having interacted with a number of artistes from South Sudan, I knew I could work well with them,” he says.

With the increasing population of South Sudanese in Kenya, in the past one year, the studio has recorded close to 50 artistes with a majority doing hip hop and dance hall.

The singers sell their music locally, mainly in Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret, and back in their home country where the music is highly appreciated.

ORIGINALITY

Marvin praises the South Sudanese artistes for the originality of their sound. “Though modern, their music focuses on the African culture and also retains its originality,” says Marvin.

The songs are mostly played in the South Sudanese households and at peace parties held three times a year during the school holidays, with the aim of promoting harmony among the members in Kenya.

During the peace parties, all the communities from South Sudan are represented and allowed to showcase their talent.

Abwao adds that the music can be classified as “clean urban”, as it mainly addresses education and peace building.

He is yet to record any Kenyan musicians in his studios. He says although he has worked with a number of local artistes, he finds great joy in working with the South Sudanese, who, he says, have maintained the originality of African music.

He points out that he is glad to have created a “home” for the artistes and at the same time established a label of his own.

Deng Maketh, a Kenya-based South Sudanese musicians who has recorded five songs in the studio, says the records, on which he has collaborated with other artistes, mostly address issues of peace.

“My music addresses the lack of peace back in South Sudan, which has so far had an impact even among my countrymen living in Kenya,” says Maketh. “This was very hard initially before establishment of the Marvin studio,” he says.

Marvin adds that although facing a lot of challenges, the South Sudanese will soon take over the African music scene due to their originality.