New Internationalist

Ok-Oyot System

August 2006

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.

This column was published in the August 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 392

New Internationalist Magazine issue 392
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