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date: 17 September 2019

Konde, Fundilocked

  • Ronnie Graham

Extract

(b Waa, nr Mombasa, 1924). Kenyan popular musician. Konde has travelled widely in eastern Africa for over 50 years. Born in colonial Kenya, he absorbed the local nomba dance rhythms from an early age. He attended St George's Catholic School where he learned clarinet, flute and trumpet, and Western notation. In 1940 he joined the colonial Department of Health but continued to play acoustic guitar, occasionally entertaining at weddings and parties. Konde's early groups featured guitars, accordions and drums, and played original compositions in Swahili that combined traditional Sengenya rhythms with African American blues and Cuban Son, styles that were accessible at the time and were now influential in the bustling port of Mombasa.

At 19 years old he enrolled in the King's African Rifles (Entertainment Unit), and began entertaining in Burma with musicians from Tanganyika and Uganda; he made his first recordings at that time in a Calcutta studio. After World War II, Konde's unit returned to Kenya under the guidance of the film producer and director of East African Records, Peter Coleman. He was encouraged to play an electric Gibson (the first in East Africa) and from then on became the featured guitarist in Peter Coleman's African Band. From there his career flourished, as he became one of the three most sought after entertainers in the region....

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