Kawere Boys Band

Kenya Kawere Boys Band

Album’s Overview
#? kawere-boys-band-kenyafrica-vol-5.jpg 1976 [10, 46:22] Kawere Boys Band - Kenyafrica Vol. 5 (Playa Sound PS-33005) studio • compilation 7.66 “Brilliant” Africana
date.png 11-Nov-2014
notes.png Unable to complete. Not enough info out there. I get the impression that they were more of a singles band, with maybe only a few LPs to their name.


The Kawere Boys were formed by Cheplin Ngode Kotula in Kericho, Kenya in 1974, and over the next four years became one of the more popular Benga groups in Luo land. Cheplin Ngode Kotula (he is the gentleman sitting in the picture above) was born, in the late forties or early fifties, in the Kawere neighborhood of the town of Saye Konyango, which is located on the road (the C-26) between Oyugis and Kindu Bay, in Nyanza province, Western Kenya. Cheplin Kotula’s first musical mentor was Joseph Lango, who recruited Cheplin to play acoustic guitar with his pick-up group at village ceremonies in Saye Konyango. (While I haven’t been able to confirm this hunch, I imagine that Cheplin started his musical career playing the nyatiti lyre or orutu fiddle, like several of the other Kawere boys).

In 1971, after failing his Certificate of Primary Education exam, Cheplin decided to make a career of music. Sometime in 1972, he joined Daniel Owino Misiani and his Shirati Jazz, who were, at the time, the house-band at the Kanyangao bar in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s largest slums. After two years, and one too many financial misunderstandings with Misiani, Cheplin decided to start his own group. Cheplin, along with rhythm guitar player Juma Charlie, and bassist Otieno Ogor - who had both been with Misiani before Cheplin joined the Shirati Jazz- turned to A.P. Chandarana of Kericho for help. According to his younger brother Rasik, A.P. Chandarana started his music business back in 1958, and would eventually release several thousand 45-rpm singles (on at least 15 different labels) featuring a wide range of Kenyan (Luo, Luhya, Kipsigiis, Swahili) and Tanzanian groups. Cheplin Kotula and A.P. Chandarana had met when the Shirati Jazz traveled to Kericho to record for Chandarana (I haven’t yet been able to identify which titles Shirati Jazz recorded for Chandarana between 1972-1974). When Cheplin, Juma Charlie and Otieno Ogor arrived in Kericho they had no musical instruments and no place to stay. Chandarana put them up in an apartment and lent them instruments to rehearse and record.

By the time the singer Herman Dinda joined the group in late 1974, the Kawere Boys had already released several singles, purchased their own instruments, and grown to include singers Juma Silas and Osumba John, Aloo Jossy ‘Jarapethii’, and Juma Charlie playing rhythm guitar, Otieno Ogor on bass, Sadok Otieno and Manase Aroko on drums, and Paul Dinda, Ouko McKenzie, and Cheplin Ngode Katula playing lead guitar. The Kawere Boys relationship with A.P. Chandarana lasted until August of 1975, when Oluoch Kanindo, a Luo music impresario who also served as a member of parliament, and became deputy secretary of education under President Moi, brought them to Nairobi. The Kawere Boys made several recordings for Kanindo at the High Fidelity studios in Nairobi, before heading back to their homes in Oyugis.

The success of the Kawere Boys led to disputes, and the group split in two in early 1978. One group of musicians-which included singers Herman Dinda, a new recruit named Elis Olela, and probably Otieno Ogor, Paul Dinda, Ouko McKenzie, and Manase Aroko - were brought to Kisumu by Oluoch Kanindo, where they performed as the Kalausi Band. The other splinter group, led by Cheplin Kotula, took the name of Kawere Jazz, and included at least Aloo Jossy, and Juma Charlie. After six months of struggle (and some say sabotage by Oluoch Kanindo, who had started to neglect the Kalausi Band to heavily promote Colella Mazee’s group) the different Kawere factions regrouped, once again under the leadership of Cheplin Kotula.

This reformation lasted only until the end of 1978, when recently joined guitar player Paul Omari, and a faction of disgruntled band members, parted ways with Kotula and started the Kawere B band (they also recorded as the Kawere B Kings). And although different versions of the Kawere Boys kept performing at least into the early 1980s, the group stopped recording regularly in 1978. Cheplin Ngode Kotula passed away in 1994. Paul Omari’s Kawere B band broke up in March 2007. Two of the original Kawere Boys, Herman Dinda and Aloo Jossy continue to perform [@ Nov 2008] in Oyugis with the Super K (Kawere) Rangers.

Matthew Lavoie
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