New Internationalist

Ok-Oyot System

Issue 392

by Extra Golden

Ok-Oyot System -the Lua words mean ‘It’s not easy’- is a one-off that came about by a delicious accident of fate that brought together a brace each of American and Kenyan musicians and set them loose in a studio in Nairobi. Ian Eagleson and Alex Minoff from Washington DC had an indie rock band Golden; guitarist and singer Otiena Jagwasi had a number of benga bands, including Extra Solar Africa, and his drumming colleague Onyango Wuod Omari was in many of them. Eagleson, in Kenya to study benga, made the initial hook-up with Otiena and, voila, Extra Golden.

There were the most basic links between the two couples. Benga, like rock, is a guitar-based idiom; rock, like benga, inhabits club venues. Bands in both genres are easy to operate in at a pick-up level. Neither offer guaranteed success- something that doesn’t seem to deter

Extra Golden. The six-track album is a deftly produced work that at its best is as light as a Marvin Gaye song. Ok-Oyot System brings in all the wonders of home-studio technology for tracks such as anti-drugs vehicle ‘Tussin’ and Fightin’, but really takes off in the laid-back chiming tracks ‘Nyajondere’ and ‘Osama Rach’, the latter an attack on Bin Laden and Bush. ‘llando Gima Onge’-a song born of rumours put about prematurely of Otieno’s death. Having suffered from serious ailments for some years, Otieno succumbed to AIDS after recording. This album is for him.

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