This week on CNN’s ‘African Voices’, the programme features David Chungi, more commonly known as ‘Wordbenda’ a Kenyan poet and songwriter whose work has taken him across the continent.
Chungi explains why writing and the spoken word appealed as a type of artistic expression: “I always feel like my music is from a very conscious place. I want to talk about that and bring those issues to light because art is a very powerful tool for social commentary. It’s something that can really move people.”
Born and raised in Nairobi, Chungi tells ‘African Voices’ how his early work was influenced by Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Park.
Now his poetry has taken him across the continent from Uganda to Ghana and Nigeria, with Chungi’s performance in the latter a career highlight.
Chungi tells ‘African Voices’: “These people had never heard spoken word and they had hardly seen anybody from Kenya performing, but I performed and we connected… That was really amazing and affirming on a certain level to feel like people from another country with a different culture can appreciate my art.”
To support his work, Chungi has continued to work as a graphic designer until he can support his work independently full-time.
Reflecting on this and looking to the future, Chungi tells ‘African Voices’: “I was doing this full time but it got to a point where it was not sustainable. I was putting in more than it was giving back… I want to see Africa recognise not just me as an artist but the country as a force to reckon with in the music industry.”
This week, ‘African Voices’ also reports from Cape Town, where the programme meets choreographer Nora Chipaumire, and Mauritius, where ‘African Voices’ experiences the island’s fire dancers up close.