How Kenya’s ‘patriotic’ choral music has changed history

By Patrick Ernest Monte, Doseline Kiguru
Posted on Wednesday, 8 June 2022 16:42

Choir members sing at the beatification ceremony of late Sister Irene Stefani, a colonial era nun who died in 1930, in the rural town of Nyeri, near the slopes of Mount Kenya, May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Noor Khamis

Choral music – patriotic choral music in particular – is a significant genre in Kenya’s political history.

Patriotic music is defined by how it engages citizen to praise and express sentiments of national affiliation. In the Kenyan context, patriotic choral music has been used to influence behaviour and the forming of national identity.

We traced the history of the music to explore how it has been used in this way in the country. We found that songs that were composed and performed in the immediate aftermath of Kenya’s struggle for independence urged the public to forget colonial injustices to build the new country.