In the 1970s and 1980s, Mogadishu’s airwaves were filled with Somali funk, disco, soul and reggae. Musicians rocking afros and bell-bottom trousers performed at the city’s trendiest nightclubs. But this era of creative fusion was short-lived. With the outbreak of war in the late 1980s, musicians fled to all corners of the world, and Somalia’s vibrant music scene fell apart. This presentation will explore the music and style of Somalia’s most popular bands during this era and the impact of their music elsewhere in East Africa and beyond.
Simon Okelo is the founder and executive director of One Vibe Africa, a non-profit which promotes African culture in the Pacific Northwest and runs arts and music education programs through its center in Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city. Raised in the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Simon first encountered Somali music and musicians while working as a DJ and political activist in Kenya.
UW Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, African Studies Program and the Simpson Center for the Humanities