SHENG CORNER

Old Sheng’ similar to current — Juliani

Popular Sheng words used in the past include Buda, Matha, Karau and Ponyi

In Summary

• Sheng is mainly used by the youth and is part of popular culture in Kenya 

Juliani
Juliani
Image: Courtesy

Sheng is now heard everywhere across Kenya and in most popular media. Most of the Sheng' words are introduced in various communities and schools and given wide exposure by music artistes, who include them in their lyrics, hence the rapid growth.

It can be assumed to be the first language of many Kenyans in urban areas. Like all slang, Sheng is mainly used by the youth and is part of popular culture in Kenya. It also evolves rapidly, as words are moved into and out of slang use.

Originating from the Eastlands of Nairobi, if you thought Sheng is a new trend in music, you are wrong. Artistes who were there before the new crop also did music in Sheng. Juliani is one of the best artistes in Kenya, and he has done most of his music in Sheng, and most people can relate to it.

He says when he started the music, it was what most of the young people were using, and it made it easy to understand each other. "You can't communicate with what you don't know, and so we used Sheng for easier for communication," he said.

Comparing with his day, Juliani says there are similarities with today's sheng. "Sheng has an impact everywhere because in most sectors, there must be a Sheng word used. Even older people now try to fit in in the generation to understand," he said.

However, the most infamous Sheng words are those that denote sex and drugs, such as 'Wamlambez'. Juliani says the main reason is that in a society, anything filthy is what most people understand easily. Popular Sheng words used in the past include Buda, Matha, Karau and Ponyi.

Other artistes who used Sheng in their music are Kalamashaka and Mashifta.