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Kenyan musical troupe to perform at Ozarks on March 2

February 23, 2015
By cnp
Posted in Community Events

Jabali Afrika, a multi-faceted musical and dance group from Kenya, will perform at University of the Ozarks at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 2, in the Rogers Conference Center.

The event is part of the University’s 2014-15 Walton Arts & Ideas Series and is free and open to the public.

Jabali Afrika’s three members are accomplished composers, instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers. The band’s origin can be traced back to the Kenya National Theatre Dance Troupe.  In 1993, feeling unnecessarily censored, some of the members of the troupe left in frustration. Joseck Asikoye, Victor Elolo and Justo Otongo broke away to form Jabali Afrika.

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The Kenyan trio that makes up Jabali Afrika will bring its blend of traditional and modern African song and dance to University of the Ozarks on Monday, March 2, in the Rogers Conference Center.

According to their website, Jabali means "rock" in Kiswahili, and the band blends African music with modern styles.  Following in the footsteps of East Africa’s oldest and most diverse popular music created by Fundi Konde and George Mukabi, Jabali Afrika creates the legendary sound that includes customary instruments like the Mbumbumbu bass drums, the sikuti drum and chivoti flute.

The group tasted its first success when the band was invited to play percussion at the United Radio and Television Network of Africa (URTNA) awards. In December 1994, the band won Nairobi’s National Talent Search award for the best traditional adaptation. This opened up the door of opportunity for Jabali Afrika. In the spring of 1995, the band headlined the African Heritage Festival tour with stops in over forty European cities. A segment of the tour was aired on CNN Lifestyle. After touring Europe, the band returned to Kenya, but soon after relocated to the United States.

Since then, Jabali Afrika has played in major music festivals and made appearances in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, Good Morning America, BET, MTV,  BBC, Radio France International and many other US and international television programs. One of the highlights of the band’s career was a performance at the Reebok Human Rights Awards stage at the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. The band has also extensively toured the United States, Europe and Japan and performed alongside bands such as Culture and the Wailers.

Jabali Afrika’s music is a mix of percussion, African drumming, rich harmonies,  dance and contagious raw energy. With more than 70,000 records sold independently and more than 250 concerts a year, Jabali Afrika is one of Kenya’s most successful touring bands.