The Grandfather Of Benga

Oh! My first Tanzanian musician! I’m not sure if you could tell, but as of the last few months, I’ve been on a hunt to collect a ton of world music. I’m hoping to have at least one or two musicians from every country. Daunting task, I know, but I’m game!

Daniel Owino Misiani (22 February 1940 – 17 May 2006) was a Tanzanian musician from Mara Region. He was known as the “King of History” in Kenya; overseas and in Tanzania, he was known as “the grandfather of benga”, of which he pioneered.

Misiani was born in Nyamagongo, a quiet village just north of Shirati in Mara Region, Tanzania. His parents were singers, but opposed his choice of a musical career on religious grounds. Nevertheless, he moved to Kenya in the 1960s to be a musicial and became popular as Shirati Jazz band. He sang mostly in Dholuo and Swahili languages. During his long career he released numerous recordings, with some international releases. He was imprisoned on several occasions for lyrics that were perceived as crossing the line into political criticism.

He died in a road traffic accident at an accident blackspot in Kisumu, on the highway to Kakamega, in a crash between a minibus and a public transport van in which many others were injured. At time of his death, aged 66, he was still an active performer. Misiani, who was polygamous, had two wives (Felista and Beatrice) with 14 children. After his death the leadership of his band Shirati Jazz was taken over by his wife and long-time band member Queen Babito (Beatrice).


Benga Blast!

Daniel Owino Misiani and Shirati Band

Side One

Joshirati Misiani (Shirati and Misiani)
Safari ya Tanzania (Visit to Tanzania)
Wuoro Monono (Greed is Useless)
Dr. J. Abuya

Side Two

Honourable Horace Owiti Ongili
Agnes Nyashirati (Agnes, Shirati’s Friend)
Alice Atieno
Okoth Atari (Okoth is Supercool)

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