[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“I am not sure as to why many love or chose my music but my approach is simplicity.” – Ayub Ogada

Folk songwriter, percussionist and musician, Ayub Ogada is considered today as one of the greatest Kenyan artistes of all time. A descendant of the proud Luo people of western Kenya, Ayub was born in 1956 to musician parents in Mombasa and given the birth name Job Ouko Seda.

Ayub arrived US with his parents at the age of 6, his father going on to study medicine in Chicago. While his parents toured campuses performing Luo music long before ‘World Music’ entered popular parlance, Ayub recalls experiencing the aftermath of segregation, and a meeting with the legendary boxer, Cascius Clay who later became Mohammed Ali.

“I had to relearn my language and some of the vernacular. Going to America was a cultural shock, but going back to Kenya was another.”

Returning to Kenya to complete his education, Ayub started experimenting with local instruments while performing with a band called Awengele, as a student at a Catholic school in Nairobi. Later in high school and playing with Black Savage, a rock band he co-founded, he composed “Kothbiro” which was adapted from a traditional song.

With his musical talent clearly evident, Ayub was given a role at the French Cultural Centre in Nairobi and he did not disappoint as he composed several traditional and contemporary music for theatrical productions.


On leaving school in 1979, Ayub fused traditional music with the sound of rock and soul as he cofounded another band, Africa Heritage. To this life changing event, Ayub has remained grateful to his mentor and partner, an American Alan Donovan, director of the Pan African Gallery who still lives in Nairobi.

“I left Kenya in search of musicians of like minds… I wanted to learn from great percussionists, especially West African.”

In 1986, accompanied with his nyatiti (a Luo 8-string lyre), Ayub decided to move out of Kenya. However at that period, flights to West Africa were usually en-route the UK. Finding so many percussionists based in the UK, Ayub decided to stay in London and got a chance to play at Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival in Cornwall in 1988.

Initially allotted a 10-minute performance slot, Ayub got a full set when Perchance, a band billed to perform at the event cancelled. Impressed by the performance, he soon teamed up with Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios where he recorded his debut album, En Mana Kuoyo (Just Sand) in 1993. 


“I learnt and got influence all I could, even got discovered by Real World in the process. But writing African songs away from home was still a challenge. …that and being homesick brought me back to Kenya.”

Over the years, Ayub Ogada toured with Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD before he eventually returned to Kenya in 2007. Movies like: I Dreamed of Africa (2000), The Constant Gardener (2005), Wonderful World (2009), Samsara (2011) and The Good Lie (2014) among others have featured his compositions on their soundtracks, while his music was also used for the BBC documentary series, Long Way Round (2005) and Long Way Down (2007).  

In 2012, Ayub Ogada got a visit from the English musician, Trevor Warren who traveled to Kenya, and together with Isaac Gem, a Kenya musician and engineer they began work on the album “Kodhi” (Seed) which was eventually released on April 20, 2015.

Ayub-Ogada (1)

Often times, Ayub has claimed to be married to his nyatiti. However, he does has a partner with whom he has a daughter.   

Afro Tourism salutes this brilliant artiste, master percussionist, song writer/composer, actor, father and city icon and African star, Ayub Ogada.

Did You Know?

  • Ayub Ogada was born in Mombasa in 1956 and was given the name Job Ouko Seda at birth.
  • His parents are both musicians from the Luo tribe in western Kenya.
  • At the age of 6, Ayub traveled with his parents to the US.
  • While in the US, he toured the college circuit with his parents who performed traditional Luo music while his father studied medicine in Chicago.
  • Ayub recalls meeting the legendary Mohammed Ali during that period.
  • He returned to Kenya to complete his education and started playing with a band while in a Catholic school in Nairobi.
  • In 1979, after finishing school, he co-founded a band African Heritage with Alan Donovan, an American who was his mentor and partner.
  • While in high school, Ayub had earlier co-founded a band known as Black Savage and composed the song “Kothbiro” which was adapted from a traditional song.
  • Under his birth name (Job Seda), Ayub starred as Robert Redford’s Masai warrior sidekick in Out of Africa (1985). He also starred in The Kitchen Toto (1987).
  • Ayuba Ogada’s music and compositions have been used on the soundtrack of such films as: I Dreamed of Africa (2000), The Constant Gardener (2005), Wonderful World (2009), Samsara (2011) and The Good Lie (2014), etc.
  • In September 2014, Ayub lost his father Dr. George Ouko Seda who died at the age of 83 from cancer of the oesophagus.


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Miriam Chiazor

Miriam Chiazor

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Miriam is the cornerstone of content planning, fiercely dedicated to resolving the critical issues of the day. She loves a good challenge, thrives on deadlines, pressure and learning new things.
Miriam Chiazor
Miriam Chiazor
Miriam Chiazor

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