Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kenya's Afro-Pop Group Sauti Sol - "Sura Yako" (featuring the Lipala dance)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about the Lipala dance as popularized by the Kenyan Afro-Pop group Sauti Sol. That group's official "Sura Yako" video and their instructional video are showcased in this post along with selected comments from Sauti Sol's instructional video (given as Example #2 below).

Excerpts from two online articles about "Sura Yako" and the Lipala dance and three additional videos of the Lipala dance are also featured in this post.

The content of this post is provided for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Sauti Sol and and all others who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

Click for the related pancocojams post "President Obama Dancing The Lipala During His Visit To Kenya".

"The Kenyan dance taking nightclubs by storm" By Charlotte Pritchard and Manuel Toledo, BBC 17 January 2015
"One of Kenya's best-known bands are on a mission to reclaim the country's dance floors and create their own national Gangnam Style hit. So they've taken a traditional dance and made it cool.

Sauti Sol are the hottest band in Kenya right now, so it's surprising that they've turned to an old dance more common at rural weddings than city hotspots.

Folk dances and fashionable nightclubs don't usually go hand-in-hand but Sauti Sol chose the traditional moves of the Lipala for the video of their hit song Sura Yako - and it's taken off in a big way.

"It's been a while since Kenyans have had a dance," says singer Willis Chimano. "In my younger years we used to have the helicopter dance and the cuckoo dance - those moves were there in the clubs and everyone was doing them."

But as Kenyans became more prosperous and better connected to the international music scene, they started to copy the moves they saw on television and the internet, mostly foreign bands....
Now Sauti Sol are making their own videos and becoming more influential - they won MTV Europe's Best African Act 2014 - and they believe the time is ripe for a Kenyan-inspired dance floor revolution.

"What we need to do is take back our dance, take back the streets," says Baraza.

What was missing was a blend of the traditional with the contemporary. "The Lipala dance is actually a dance that has been practised by the Luhya tribe for the longest time ever," says Delvin Mudigi, another member of the band.

And because everyone's familiar with it, it has really taken off, even spawning tributes on YouTube"...

... "Sauti Sol hopes that their Lipala instructional video will encourage us to embrace a home-grown style. It’s a genre for happy occasions. I can see people at weddings and parties hoofing it like crazy. The instructional video was done in conjunction with the Sarakasi dancers and was uploaded on Sauti Sol YouTube Channel in anticipation of the band’s official Sura Yako video.

Sura Yako is an upbeat modern piece. It bears elements from various parts of Kenya. The genius orchestration by the producer blends instruments from different cultures into one very rich and danceable tune. A tune for Kenya. Most evident is the coastal influence brought out by the shakers and fast drumming akin to the chakacha genre.

Then enter the catchy lyrics in Swahili and English that will get you singing along. These guys have their magic formula working for them.

The Lipala is a traditional Luhya dance that entails a choreograph of coordinated hand and leg movement, and which climaxes with ululation signifying the joy of culture. The dancing enables folks to move and mingle as they express the joy of dancing. Both men and women interact as they share the joy of music, the beats and sounds of indigenous musical instruments and dance movements.

Sauti Sol and Sarakasi spent an hour rehearsing the moves and the next day it took them a fun forty minutes to shoot the video. The talented Sarakasi crew make this out to be an easy routine but for those of us who’ll find themselves stumbling to do the Lipala, find encouragement in knowing that among the band members it was Polycarp who gave the choreographer Oscar Mwalo a hard time. But he finally did master the steps and so can you."

The Sauti Sol official video and instructional video are presented first and second below. The other three videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing dates on YouTube with the examples with the oldest publishing dates given first.

Note that a video featuring the Lipala dance in a nightclub was posted on Nov 29, 2013, prior to the Youtube posting of Sauti Sol's "Sura Yako" official video and their instructional dance video.


Sauti Sol. Published on Sep 12, 2014

SURA YAKO (YOUR FACE) - the fourth single off upcoming Sauti Sol third album: LIVE AND DIE IN AFRIKA. The video plays out a typical Kenyan pre-wedding ceremony (ruracio). SURA YAKO has been produced by Sauti Sol/ co-produced by Cedric "Cedo" Kadenyi. The video has been shot and directed by Kenyan director Enos Olik of Bokeh Family.

Example #2: Sauti Sol - SURA YAKO Official LIPALA Dance Instructional Video feat. Sarakasi Dancers

Sauti Sol, Published on Jul 28, 2014

#LipalaDance is the special dance to the song Sura Yako (Your Face), fourth single off Sauti Sol's upcoming third album, Live and Die in Africa. Sauti Sol appreciates the collaboration with Sarakasi dancers in the creation of Lipala.
Click for information about the group Sauti Sol. Here's an excerpt from that Wikipedia page:
"Sauti Sol is a Kenyan afro-pop band formed in Nairobi by vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano and Delvin Mudigi in 2005.[1][2] Initially an a capella group, guitarist Polycarp Otieno joined before they named themselves Sauti...

They then met guitarist Otieno...[They] decided to form Sauti (Swahili for "voice") and immediately wrote their first song, "Mafunzo ya Dunia" (Life lessons), which would later feature in their debut studio album Mwanzo.[3] The band later added the Spanish word "Sol" (sun) to their name and formed Sauti Sol (supposed to mean "voices in the sun")...

After "Nishike", the band released their fourth single off Live and Die in Africa entitled "Sura Yako" (Your Face). This was introduced by a spin-off Lipala dance competition run on Instagram that sparked an online dance movement in Africa and across the globe.[22] Following the success of the competition, the band released the single's music video on 12 September 2014."...
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread (all from 2014)
"Lipala is a luhya dance. Something nice from among the luhyias. Kudos"

Daniel Much I
"Kenyan western tribe called luyha dance isikuti. .actually number of guys in that band comes from there..that's why it was fun to them cos they can relate"

Mpumie lan gane
"funny enough i so love this song :) but i don't have a clue what it means.. may you kindly shed some light. sincerely South African"

lee west
"sura yako- your face & mzuri sana means Very nice... If you translate it, it means you have a beautiful face(from Kenya)"

Mpumie lan gane
"+lee west well he says "you so beautiful" at the i had a clue after all.. thank you "

khamis athman
"lipala is a luhyia dance n not coastal as some people here claim..n yes the song indeed has a lil bit of that chakacha beat. about them stealing Davido's style...i don't agree. i know when they do that lipala dance it looks more like the skelewu dance done by Davido. anyway, the Lipala dance is done a lil bit different from what we see here but who cares? this is one awesome song as well as video! keep it up Sauti Sol."


MAURITIUS ODUOR Published on Nov 29, 2013

mulembe dance, everyone on dancefloor enjoying the lipala.

Example #4: St.Judy School In Kibera trying out the @sautisol #lipala Dance.

junae ndolo Published on Aug 12, 2014

St.Judy's School in Kibera had a day to enter this competition of SautiSol #Lipala they hope to win to build their school

"Sura Yako" by Sauti Sol

Example #5: Malkia Strikers Lipala Dance

MICHEZOAFRIKAKENYA Published on Jun 21, 2015

The Kenya women National volleyball team Malkia strikers are the 2015 African Champions. The team captained by Bracksides Blackie Khadambi defeated Algeria with straights sets in the finals to retain the title in Nairobi on Saturday afternoon at Kasarani.

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