chapter  9
10 Pages

The Global History of African Music: The Kenyan Song “Malaika”

WithIan Eagleson

This chapter illustrates how a Kenyan popular song, "Malaika", offered an avenue for a creative response to these tensions both in America and in Kenya. It examines three versions of this song: the original recording by Fadhili William and the Black Shadows released in Kenya in 1963, and two American versions: one performed by Pete Seeger and the other by the performing duo of Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte. The chapter shows that the meaning this song had to musicians and listeners in Kenya during the 1960s was quite different, even contradictory, from the meaning it had in America. It argues that the song has emerged as a German disco hit with groups like Boney M, has been incorporated into the repertoire of Indian film music stars like Lata Mangeshkar, and has continued to be a lasting hit in Kenya since its initial appearance.