Many musical groups and stars emerged from African Heritage over the decades. The first group to perform with the African Heritage shows, including the one which launched Iman at Maasai Lodge in 1975, was a group from Zambia named Musi-O-Tunya  (Smoke that Thunders from the famed Victoria Falls in that country).

In 1979, Alan Donovan contacted Job Seda with the idea of forming a new band to travel with African Heritage.  Job, now known to international audiences as world musician Ayub Ogada, launched the group African Heritage Band with Donovan’s support.  The band consisted of easily the best musicians in Kenya at that time, some of whom had performed  with Job in Black Savage.  Besides Seda on African instruments, guitars and vocals, there was Mbarak Achieng, a music teacher at the Kenya Conservatoire of music, keyboardist Francis Njoroge, who was formerly with Makonde, Noel Sanyanafwa on percussions, and Japanese music maestro Goro Kunii on saxophone and other instruments.  The band  gave up playing copyrights and composed all of their  own music. The original line up was bolstered by stellar musicians like the now world famous Samite who performs all over the world, keyboardist Jack Odongo, Ali ‘Rastoman Mogobeni, Shaban Onyango, Walter Amalemba, Sammy Eshikaty and bassist Gido Kibukosya.

After African Heritage Band broke up, the next group to perform with African Heritage  was Kenya’s first all female pop group in Kenya, Musikly Speaking.  Formed in l985, this group consisted of Joy Mboya (now heading the GoDown in Nairobi), Suzanne Gachukia and Susan Matiba.  The group performed in the USA with Alan Donovan.

Taffi Dancers, under the leadership of famed musician and  dancer Rodido, also traveled with African Heritage and played in the African Heritage Garden Café on Kenyatta Avenue.  The last group to travel with African Heritage was an all male group, Jabali Africa, who are now based in Philadelphia, USA, where they remained after the last international tour of African Heritage in 1995.  The founding  musicians of Jabali Africa were Justo Asikoye, Victor Savani, and Joseck Asikoye.

The second generation of African Heritage musicians includes a spectacular young musician who not only writes all of his own music, but designs and creates his own musical instruments based on instruments, some of which are thousands of years old.  (see Papillon).  Papillon has completed his first single, called Ayubu, an homage to his mentor, Ayub Ogada and is now completing his first album.  He features in an article in DUSIT 8  published by Dusit Hotels International.

Taffi Dancers horn blower

The horn blower opened every African Heritage show around the world, based on an old tradition from the old city of Benin.


There is a new  musician on the East African music scene by the unlikely name of  “Papillion” (butterfly in French).   Papillion  has arrived on the music scene, however, more like a comet than a butterfly, as he not only writes all of his own music — in several languages — but he designs and creates his own African instruments!

Papillion is among the first musicians in recent times to  look at African musical instruments with an eye to redesign, combine and upgrade them for a new musical experience. For instance, he has taken an 8-string lyre,  which is played in one version or another in  countries along the Nile River and set it inside a calabash resonator (similar to those  found in the “Kora” of the Sahel ) along with two “Kalimbas” (finger pianos) which are played  throughout Africa.  This ingenious invention allows him to play two different instruments at the same time.  His interest in traditional musical   instruments is partially the result of time  he spent under the tutelage of another East African musician who created musical history and achieved world fame by playing traditional musical instruments, the legendary Ayub Ogada.

Although Papillion is quite young, he is not  really  new to the music scene of Africa.  A decade ago, as a child named Martin Murimi,  he joined a  Kenyan group called “Jua Kali Drummers”, a phenomenal group of young percussionists that traveled to Europe and other parts of the world.  When the group morphed into the famous “Slum Drummers”, Papillion  took over as the assistant manager under an Italian  musical director, named Giovanni lo Cascio.` From a poor rural background, Papillion endured a hard early life, and, as a street boy , found salvation in music and art.  Besides being a prize-winning percussionist, he is an accomplished artist.

thumbnail of Papillion Poster_April_2017Now Papillion is ready to spread his musical wings in flight,  preparing his first major album. With his soaring voice and haunting melodies, coupled with a litany of African instruments, many of his own making, Papillion is a musical force to be reckoned with.  He has formed a group of versatile and diverse musicians, including an Indian Tabla drummer, a flutist,  a pianist and of course percussionists playing everything from cowbells to steel drums.  This group will accompany Papillion on his quest to take back traditional music, much of which was lost during the colonization of Africa and other parts of the world, and his attempt to build a new musical dynasty on old African roots.

Read this story about Papillon ‘Rebirth of Rythm’ in Dusit Hotel’s 8 magazine (pages 56-65):

Listen to Papillon

The new single by musician Papillon, an ode to his mentor, Kenya’s most famous international world musician, Ayub Ogada.

Instrumental version:

Vocal version:

African Heritage Band

In 1979, Alan Donovan contacted a leading musician in Nairobi, Job Seda, with the idea of forming a new band which would travel with African Heritage for its shows abroad and play for its shows in Nairobi.

Job Seda, or Ayub Ogada, as he later came to be known, internationally, launched the group AFRICAN HERITAGE, with Donovan’s support.  The band consisted easily of the best musicians in Kenya at the time, some of whom had been with Job in the band BLACK SAVAGE.

Besides Seda, who was the vocalist, guitarist and played a range of African  traditional instruments, there was Mbarak Achieng, a guitarist and  music teacher at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, keyboardist Francis Njoroge, who was formerly with the group MAKONDE; Noel Sanyanafwa on drums and percussions, and Goro Kunii,from Japan, on the saxophone.  The band set out to play jazz, reggae, funk and to highlight indigenous African instruments.  As demanded by Donovan, they wrote all of their own music and did not perform copyrights.

The original line up was later bolstered by many other stellar musicians like Jack Odongo, himself another ex -member of Black Savage, Ali “Rastaman’ Magobeni, Shabaan Onyango, Walter Amalemba, Sammy Eshikaty, bassist Gido Kibukosya, and finally the Ugandan musical  sensation, Samite Mulondo, who went on to form his own group in the USA which has released numerous albums played around the world and who  is still touring the USA today.


Musikly Speaking is considered as the first all female pop group in Nairobi.

Formed in 1985, after the demise of the African Heritage Band, the group was called “the New Face Of Africa” with Joy Mboya (trained as an architect who designed the pool house at African Heritage House) Susan Matiba, an advocate who now runs her father’s real estate and hotel  empire, and the trained musician of the group, Suzanne Gachukia.  The trio performed at the come back  of the African Heritage Nights at the Safari Park Hotel in 1986   After Gido Kibokutsya, the last remaining member of the African Heritage Band joined the group, there was a merger with the marriage of Suzanne Gachukia and Gido Kibokutsya.  The group opened the African Heritage shop, The Tribal Eye,  at the Stanford Shopping Centre in Palo Alto, California, USA in 1989.  They are best remembered for their adaption of the Luo folk song, ‘Jamriambo’ (Luo for “Liar”) which became an instant hit .  They split up in 1993, with each of the members opting to pursue individual careers.

AYUB OGADA (formerly Job Seda)

Probably the most famous international musician from Kenya, Job Seda founded the African Heritage Band in 1979 with Alan Donovan, after stints with leading bands in Kenya like Makonde and Black Savage.  Job traveled to Europe, Madagascar and several other countries with Kenya’s African Heritage Festival, the cultural outreach program of African Heritage, with its troupe of musicians, models, dancers  acrobats, stilt walkers, chefs, hairdressers and others before he went on his own with his famed “Nyatiti” (Luo 8-stringed harp)  and never looked back.  He was picked up by WOMAD (World Music) and traveled the world with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Japanese fashion maestro Issey Miyake, and many others. His most famous song “Koth Biro” (The rains are coming in Luo) has been played throughout the world in leading movies (The Constant Gardener and I Dreamed of Africa) and on television, including the 2016 World Olympics in Brazil.  Ayub continues to perform at leading musical events around the world.  He has also acted in many movies, including Out of Africa, Kitchen Toto, among others.


Samite joined the African Heritage Band after creating a sensation with his senuous music of Kalimba (thumb piano)  and flute in Uganda.  He traveled with African Heritage before moving to the USA during the 1990s, and has released numerous award-winning musical albums.  He has a full schedule traveling the USA with a small group or as a one man show.  His music has also been used in numerous sound tracks.


Jabali Afrika were a small group of   percussionists who began their career at the African Heritage Café within the original African Heritage Gallery in Nairobi during the 1980’s. The original group was formed by two brothers, Joseck Asikoye and Justo Asikoye, with Victor Savani.   In 1995, the group  travelled 11 cities of Europe with Kenya’s African Heritage Festival after which  they relocated to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in the USA where they remain today.   They have released several albums in the USA.


Taffi Dancers were an exhuberant group of percussionists and traditional musicians who often performed with African Heritage in Nairobi or abroad, most notably for the African Renaissance Show in South Africa in 1998.  The group was founded and headed by John Radido who was the lead male dancer for African Heritage for decades.  He opened each African Heritage Night or show with his appearance as “The Hornblower”, a tradition taken from the old West African city of Benin when the hornblower  would announce the King, as commemorated on many  ancient Benin bronze plaques.