Close this search box.

Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Book Launch: Benga, a Kenyan Kaleidoscope

As the process of globalization and digitalization intensifies, previously confidential music genres are now experiencing a heightened level of visibility. Access to new audiences, however, can also present challenges for these often peripheral cultures, related to their re-interpretation and the ethical, economic and cultural difficulties associated with their diffusion. As a genre often looked down on by elites in Kenya, benga does not escape this logic.

With new practices aimed at hybridizing and pushing the genre beyond its national borders, benga is facing multiple dilemmas. Digital music production tools have rendered the composition and recording of music open to a growing number of artists. Using traditional music and other local sounds, emerging artists are re-inventing traditional music and disrupting conventional definitions of national heritage.

On 4 September 2019, the Rift Valley Institute, in collaboration with the British Institute in Eastern Africa, launched the book, Benga, a Kenyan Kaleidoscope, by the Flee Project. The book invites readers to consider the intensification and digitalization of exchanges and their impact on artistic practices, the obsession with authenticity and cultural appropriation.



Mwongela Kamencu



Mbithi Masya
Just a Band

Ondiso Madete

Alan Marzo
The Flee Project

Tabu Osusa (TBC)

  • Recent Publications