SHENG CORNER

Sheng is our first tribe, say Mbusi na Lion

The presenters say Sheng songs should not be banned from radio, but it is the responsibility of every parent to know what their children are listening to

In Summary

• Luos, Kambas and all tribes in Kenya are 'brought together by that one language'

Radio Jambo's Mbusi and Lion Deh show off their garden salad
Radio Jambo's Mbusi and Lion Deh show off their garden salad
Image: COURTESY

Radio Jambo’s drive show Mbusi na Lion TekeTeke presenters Mbusi na Lion say their first tribe is Sheng.

Their show has been ruling the airwaves ever since it began in 2013. In an interview with the Star, they say Sheng to them is life.

Lion says he found himself speaking in Sheng. Mbusi says to him, Sheng is his first tribe.

“Sheng has no tribe and it has made us be who we are. Luos, Kambas and all tribes in Kenya are brought together by that one language,” Mbusi said. 

All tribes understand each other better through Sheng, unlike in English or even Kiswahili, for which one has to go to school. 

Lion adds that Sheng has no dictionary and so, what you think is Sheng to you, respect it, “hiyo ndiyo Sheng yako”. 

Sometimes there could be misunderstandings because Sheng is different in various places. 

“Sheng has made us celebs, and it’s what is putting food on our tables,” Mbusi said.

Both say that sometimes, government officials complain that they are using vulgar language, which according to them is wrong.

Sheng in the city is different and even in every family, there are Sheng words used.

Mbusi says his children are very okay with the language and in fact, they bring new words from school that he even could not have known exist. 

Mbusi says the first Sheng words his children learnt were “Hakuna Mbrrrrrcha”m meaning no worries, and “Mambo hualala”.

“I had to be using it on my show,” he said.

If you are their fans, you will have noticed that they have new Sheng words every day. Where do they get them?

“We wake up very early and as part of our research, we visit the streets, and that is where we collect new words. Interacting with the youth is key in our job, and we ensure that every day, we get new words so our audiences don’t get bored,” Mbusi said.

Lion added that, “You can’t just be ignorant. The industry wants you to be competitive as well. We pick a lot from the ghettos. Sometimes, people (fans) send us messages of new Sheng words that are trending in their areas with their meaning. You also have to challenge them on air. Some even call from upcountry. Msee from Kisumu anatupigia simu, and so on. Like in South B, bhang is called Ngwai but in Ruaka, it is Ngwelo.”

The presenters say Sheng songs should not be banned from radio, but it is the responsibility of every parent to know what their children are listening to.

“Hao vijana wanatafuta unga, so let them be,” Mbusi said. “Kenyan music imekam na rieng yake.”

At the end of the interview, Lion said the latest Sheng word for women with a big sitting allowance is ‘Mbokolo’.