Pete Akwabi and John Nzenze: The Kenyan Twist

During one of the “Songs of Struggle” discussion sessions at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s Kenya program, musicians Peter Akwabi (left) and John Nzenze (right) performed a song that Nzenze originally wrote in 1963, an expression of the need for unification and independence among the Kenyan people. He recalled that he recorded it on November 3; on December 12, the country declared independence.

Nzenze also described that when he heard the songs of Chubby Checker, he wanted to create his own Kenyan style of the new American popular music.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings director and discussion moderator Dan Sheehy chimed in: “So, you put a twist on the twist!”

Videography: Max Lenik, Albert Tong, Shiyu Wang
Editing: Nicholas Mangialardi