John Nzenze

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John Nzenze
John Nzenze 6283289.JPG
Background information
Muthurwa, Nairobi

John Amutabi Nzenze (born in 1940 in Muthurwa, Nairobi) is a musician from Kenya. He has performed the twist dance style.[1] Some of his most popular songs are "Angelike" (released in 1961),[1] "Julieta Rudi Tuone" and "Habari za Nairobi (Nairobi twist)".[2]


he is from luhya tribe in the western region part of kenya, Nzenze went to St Peter's primary school. He started playing with his father's guitar at the age of 12, but after learning how much time he spent playing it, his father sold the guitar. After finishing the school, he worked at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. At the time he teamed up with Daudi Kabaka, with whom he recorded three songs "Masista", "Bachelor Boy" and "Nyumba za Tobacco". These songs were released by Jambo Records and became hits.[1]

He has toured Japan, Britain and various East African countries. in 1968 he represented Kenya at All African Music Festival in Algeria, finishing third. As a result, president Jomo Kenyatta feted him and his Air Fiesta Matata band, and Emperor Haile Selassie invited him to perform in Ethiopia.[1] Next year the band performed with Miles Davis in Germany, who was impressed with the band arranged them a tour to America. In 1971, BBC World Service gave them a Best Band in Africa award [3] Nzenze left his group in 1972, after which he went to perform regularly to tourists at the Panafric Hotel and later played at tourist ships. As of 2009, he performs at the Westlife Club in Kakamega, and is still making music.[2] He has also served as a board member of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya.[2]

In 2009 he was among four pioneering Kenyan showbiz people given Head of State Commendation awards by president Mwai Kibaki. Others were John Katana (band leader Them Mushrooms), David Ndung'u and Conrad Karukenya (aka Tiger Power).[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Daily Nation, June 14, 2009: At 70, Nzenze still holds on to his guitar
  2. ^ a b c d Daily Nation, June 5, 2009: Three sing their way to glory
  3. ^ The Guardian, July 27, 2001: 'If I didn't save this music no one else would'