The professors of Old School Kenyan music. By
Them Mushrooms Band

After recording their first sinngle with Polygram Records in 1980, Them Mushrooms went to record their first album with Columbia Broadcasting System.

The night sky in Mombasa, spread over the Indian Ocean, is a captivating reflection of the dark seas, the tiny, bright stars accentuating it all. It’s easy to be carried away by this beautiful expanse and dream big dreams, which sometimes might just come true. It’s the same sort of night as the one 35 years ago, in 1979, when Teddy Kalanda Harrison had just finished performing on stage with his band, Them Mushrooms, at the Severin Sea Lodge Hotel. “I was seated at the pool bar; I was listening to the tourists joking around, trying to learn Kiswahili from the barmen,” he recalls. Jambo, habari, and hakuna matata was all they could get. “So I thought, ‘Ok, these guys are trying to learn Kiswahili. Maybe I can make a song out of this. They can learn Kiswahili as they enjoy the music.’”

The band had been doing cover songs for about six years, and Teddy was getting tired of it. “We used to come up with our own small compositions that we were playing,” says his brother and bandmate Billy Sarro Harrison, though nothing of note up to that point – and that was something they were looking to change. But even as Teddy was formulating the idea, a persistent thought that wouldn’t leave him, he was not quite sure what the response would be. In fact, when he took pen to paper and turned the idea into reality, he “was just doing it to try it out and see what reaction would come of it.”

The concept was very simple, the lyrics plucked from everyday lingo – Jambo/ Jambo Bwana/ Habari gani/ Mzuri sana/ Wageni/ Mwakaribishwa/ Kenya yetu, hakuna matata (Hello / Hello / How are you? / Very well / Visitors / You are welcome / Our Kenya, there are no problems). John Katana Harrison, Teddy’s other brother and another band member, remembers, “The norm was, anytime a fresh batch of tourists came in, everyone would go like, ‘Jambo, Jambo Bwana!’” So Teddy took the simple greeting, strung words together and made a tune out of it. “It was unbelievable,” he says as his memory flashes three decades back. “The tourists were just crazy about that [song].” And just like that, with just his first real attempt, Teddy had created a hit.

And it wasn’t only the tourists who got hooked on the song. Amidst the many guests frequenting the Mombasa hotels where Them Mushrooms were performing was a director from Polygram Records. “He came up to us and introduced himself, and gave us his card to call him and record that song,” Billy says with a look of quiet amusement. That one moment that many musicians dream of was finally happening.

In 1980, the band recorded the song with Polygram, and if Kenyans and Westerns alike didn’t know Them Mushrooms to that point, they certainly did after the song’s release. It was an international sensation. “It was like a national anthem,” says George Zirro Harrison, yet another brother and fourth band member. Looking back, their eyes glazed with the memory of that moment, they can still remember the significance of it all. John paints a clear picture when he tells me, “The spotlight of the universe, so to say, zoomed in on Them Mushrooms.”

Meeting the Band

I didn’t know what to expect when I called John about meeting. The voice on the other end was curious, but calmly receptive. We’d agreed to meet at the Panari Hotel in Nairobi. Checking in on the band I called to let them know I’d arrived. “We’re at the entrance,” he says, and I turn towards the main doors to see three men going through the security check. John’s lean frame is certainly taller than the other two, but there is a lax manner in which they all walk that is somewhat similar. “This is Billy and this is George,” John says, introducing his two brothers. Their current line-up also includes vocalist Nikita Nyamanga and drummer Eddie Denah. At one point, however, the band comprised of the five brothers – Dennis Kalume Harrison rounding out the siblings.

They laugh when I ask about their childhood, making it seem oh so long ago. They were naughty, John says, just as all boys are, referring to himself and his brothers and leaving their two sisters out of the confession. Billy, seated to my left, has a concentrated expression on his face as he gazes at me. I don’t know if he’s trying to figure me out, but wheels are definitely turning. “He is a critical thinker,” I learn later on from his daughter, Mandi Sarro. Understandably so, seeing as he’s been the band’s finance manager from the beginning, in addition to the bass guitarist. George, who’s on my right, leans back in his seat, a stance that seems both relaxed and lazy. His balding head is sprinkled with sprouts of silver hair, his beard with a more generous amount, while his slender frame speaks of a musician’s lifestyle with years of too much partying etched around his eyes. He “is a wizard in his stuff,” says Paul Kelembe, a close friend of the band. “He’s done lead guitar, bass and keyboard.”

Inside the Studio - Mama Africa album

A look inside the studio where the band recorded songs from their 1983 album Mama Africa.

“Ilikuwa si boogie, Ilikuwa ikitwaje? (It wasn’t called boogie; What was it called?)” John asks his brothers as he tries to remember where their earliest performances took place. “They called them Mabomani,” he says, his brothers nodding in agreement. These were makeshift clubs with sisal sacks tied together to form the walls. The bare ground, sometimes carpeted with deep green grass or coated with soft red soil, was the dance floor, as the sounds coming from the bands’ musical instruments – mingled with the audience’s merrymaking as they danced and laughed – filled the night air. “They were unique,” Kelembe states, referring to the band. “These guys were it. You could easily connect them with the indigenous coastal people.”

Oldest brother Teddy, who is now retired from the group, introduced the brothers to the music scene. He formed his first band – Air Bonanza – while still in high school, though his beginnings in music go further back. When he was in class four at St. Augustine’s Preparatory School in Mombasa, he joined a percussion band, and his uncle owned a gramophone and a library rich in records, which further supplemented little Teddy’s musical passion. What he wasn’t taught he inherited from his mum – who sang in the church choir – and grandfather, “but they didn’t pursue music,” he tells me. He taught himself to play the guitar and all through primary and high school, he performed in school bands or with friends. What he learned, he taught his siblings.

In the two hours that I spend with the band, we talk about the journey that’s taken them to this point, both musically and personally, and the uniting bond that has kept them together for so long, despite the misfortunes they’ve faced along the way, the group almost dissolving at several points. In a while, Them Mushrooms will take to the stage, showing off the skills that made their name. Starting off with Swahili songs, they’ll feed the quiet atmosphere of the venue. Their music is reflective, the kind that gets you talking about happy things of yesteryear. The evening will build up as the group moves along with performances of soul, country and reggae music. And while Teddy, who is “very stern about what he wants,” according to his niece, Sarro, and “likes to take risks as well,” is not here tonight, the brothers speak highly of him, obviously grateful that he introduced them to this path.

We end our time together, an evening of reminiscence, with John giving me contacts for Teddy, the Harrison brother not there for the gig, who’s living on the Coast. A pleasant man, he’s entirely willing as I invite myself down to meet with him and hear his side of the story.

Them Mushrooms is Created

Mombasa is a hot and humid place; the town is bustling with life and activity – matatus, tuk tuks and cars hustle to get past each other, leaving pedestrians a small window to make it across the streets. The scene is at times chaotic. My hotel room at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort & Spa, is a welcome relief, the cool air and the amazing view of the Indian Ocean quickly wiping away my fatigue. About 38 years ago, Them Mushrooms could be spotted here, Sarova Whitesands being one of the many along the coastal stretch that welcomed the band. My day will be spent reliving the bands experiences as I head out to meet Teddy at the family home, now his home, in Mazeras, Kaloleni, about an hour from Mombasa town.

There are valleys and hills in this area of Kilifi County, red soil standing out against the green of the surroundings. At the top of a small hill, we veer off the main road onto a dirt track. “Mushrooms Farm” stands out in black letters on the wall adjacent to the gate. I walk the short distance to the front door, all the while observing the exterior of the modest home. It’s beige in colour and I suddenly realize I hadn’t visualised what kind of home Them Mushrooms grew up in. Ruth Kadzo Harrison, one of the two sisters, meets me at the door. As I set my stuff down, Teddy slowly walks into the room wearing dark sunglasses. He’s adorned in khaki shorts and a black, polo-like t-shirt. His hands are stretched out as he feels the space around him, walking towards one of the couches. “Yuko wapi? (Where is she?)” He asks his sister, a mix of curiosity and intrigue in his voice. I quickly reach out for his hand and say hello.

The 'New Horizons' (1985) album cover.

In 1969, the music scene around the world was ablaze, with labels releasing record after record while musicians – The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Kool and the Gang, etc. – put on live performances for arenas of fans. In Africa, the west was erupting with the sound of Congolese pop music known as rumba, while other sounds like jazz from South Africa and highlife from Zimbabwe were becoming well-known forms of entertainment. In East Africa, Tanzanian music – bongo and taarab – had made its way into Kenya, but it was benga that was becoming something of a definitive sound here at home, with each culture adopting the style uniquely.Henry Gibson Shadrack Harrison, however, did not think it was a good idea for his son to pursue music.

In fact, often he and his wife, Florence Mandi Harrison, would be on opposite sides of the matter, because while she was quite supportive of the music, he thought more attention should be given to education. “My dad was not for it from the word go,” Teddy remembers with a laugh. To further aggravate the situation, Teddy was more than passionate about pursuing music during his final school year in primary, he was obsessed. “I was spending more time on music than my lessons.” A choice that led to frequent altercations between him and his father.

Passing his final exams did the trick, relieving some of his father’s fears, and when he was called to join university in 1972, this completely put his father at ease. “When I actually passed to go to Makerere [University] in Uganda, he was very proud. He said, ‘Ok, you know what you are doing, so it’s ok.’” All along, Teddy had continued practising his craft and putting on shows. “Our first performance ever was at a wedding in a place called Chonyi,” says Teddy, recalling the crowd’s positive response. Ruth walks back into the room and I ask her about her time as the bass guitarist for the band. She smiles and brushes it off, saying that it was a long time ago. But John had mentioned that, “Everybody was talking about it because it was the first time they’d seen a girl play a bass guitar. It was the talk of the village.”

Their mum, however, was not comfortable with her daughter doing the mabomani shows, so Billy took up Ruth’s role, playing the bass guitar, and George came on playing the rhythm guitar. John joined not too long after, and a few years down the line, the youngest of the siblings Dennis would come on as the drummer. Around that time, most bands used the prefix ‘The’ – The Vikings, The Islanders, The Beatles. “We wanted to be different,” John had explained. “We experimented with different names. We started off as Avenida Success – whatever that meant – as kids.” ‘The Mushrooms’ wouldn’t cut it and Teddy was adamant that they choose a name that would help them get noticed.

Speaking on the name’s origin, however, he suddenly stops talking, reflecting for a moment before continuing with the fact that, before they could firmly decide on what they should call themselves, “There was a cousin who was getting married right here at this house.” Teddy, at the time, was schooling in Kampala, but he made it home for the celebration. With the family together, celebrating a joyous occasion, the tragedy that came after was even more shocking. “He was not sick,” Teddy discloses of his dad. “It was like a heart attack. It was sudden. I don’t remember whether it was that Sunday or Monday that he died. We buried him the following weekend, then I went back to Kampala, got my stuff and came back [home].” He got a job at Bamburi Cement, where his father had previously worked, in order to support his siblings and mother – a woman they refer to as their rock.

Though the circumstances weren’t ideal, being back home meant that he could concentrate on the band. Besides him, John and Billy, Arthur Okoth and Pritt Nyale also joined the group. On Dec 12, 1972, months after their dads passing, ‘The Mushrooms’ officially became ‘Them Mushrooms’, with Teddy choosing to add the ‘m’.

Journey to Success

While they’d already been successful at booking gigs in local clubs, their popularity was undoubtedly on the rise in 1973, when they went to perform in Rabai, Kaloleni. The generator was running, the stage was ready for the band and fans were starting to stream in – too many it would seem. Not far from where they were, another club had booked another group, who took offense to Them Mushrooms pulling the larger crowd. The Harrison boys and company were performing when, “There was commotion, and then some guys came in,” says Teddy simply. Suddenly, the generator went off and the place was dark. Within no time, chaos broke out and someone punched Teddy square in the face. Having worn glasses since he was young, the lens broke, a shard plunging into his eye. “I was lucky that I got to the hospital and it was taken out,” he says quietly.

Though that was not the reason he decided to stop performing at the mabomani clubs and weddings –payment haggles and excessive working hours taking that honour – it certainly pushed him to look for something better for the group. Beach hotel entertainment, which was more organised – even requiring contracts – would offer much more exposure and pay better, quickly making it the optimal choice. Until that point the band had been focusing on lingala and Tanzanian music. When they made the decision to move to hotels, they began transitioning their style, focusing on chart music from Europe and America. Even though their African influences remained – Franco of TPOK Jazz from Congo, Egypt 80 and Manu Dibango of Cameroon – they got into James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and “across generations up to when Kool and the Gang came into the scene,” reckons John, then through to Earth, Wind & Fire, Madonna and many others.

Their popular song "Jambo Bwana" earned them a Gold Disc Award in 1984, which eventually became a Platinum Award in 1987.

It was at about this time that Dennis joined the band, adding an exceptional element to Them Mushrooms. “There were five brothers in the band – never heard of in town, maybe in Kenya, at the time,” John declares in a proud tone. Just as pleased and in agreement, Teddy adds, “I think that part played a big role in making the band unique. There were five brothers, and then [there was] the music we played.” But more than adding that quality of uniqueness, it also gave the group a unified front which they used to confront their problems. George, who’s the “crazy uncle,” as Sarro puts it, had a wild streak about him that started long before the band came to be. He’d dropped out of school while their father was still alive, so when he started missing performances, the band decided to “give him a minor role,” explains Teddy, “and bring someone in who would be consistent so that our performances were not affected.”

Them Mushrooms continued performing in hotels on the North and South Coast, and it was during this period that they came up with “Jambo Bwana”. But instead of it being immediately successful, Teddy’s fears were realised when other bands in the locale thought the song was ridiculous. “We were mocked by so many other bands in town when we released that song,” remarks John. “Many of the bands said, ‘What have these guys gone to record? Such a stupid song, like a nursery song.’” But that ‘nursery song’ would become a compulsory play for “most, if not all bands,” John reveals, because hotels “bought the single and brought it to [the bands] and said, ‘You guys have to play this song.’”

But even as the hotels were making their song undeniably popular, the cycle was beginning to become too routine for them, and they were increasingly aware that in venues where the bands were meant to play similar sets, it was difficult for them to stand out. After “Jambo Bwana”, it all started getting monotonous and Them Mushrooms was itching for the next big thing. With no recording studios in Mombasa [at the time], the band was limited in their growth, especially if they wanted to produce their own music. It was becoming clear that a move to Nairobi was inevitable. “So I told my brothers, ‘Where we have reached now in Mombasa, we have reached the ceiling. We cannot go beyond.’” Teddy tells me, “So we started scouting [to see] if we could get a gig [in Nairobi].”

Ricky Adagala, the entertainment manager at The Carnivore today, is forced to scavenge for background information on the band from the days when they worked together, pouring over old record books. “Them Mushrooms were first auditioned in December 1986, and were signed up to perform as a house band in 1987.” Their contract was for two and a half years, through to 1989. This was the opportunity they needed to help them venture deeper into their music and explore their talent.

Learning the Hard Way

Billy is the third born in the family. He is slightly stout and of medium height, and has a laugh that comes from deep within his belly, spreading easily across his face. On occasion, as we talk and the conversation evokes that hearty laugh, it’s difficult to tell whether it’s really out of amusement or something else. They are hesitant to dredge up their deal with Polygram and its George’s almost inaudible, “They messed us up,” that opens the subject. “We got to Nairobi, called Polygram, told them we were in town and they said [we should] come to the studio the next morning.”

Polygram was located in the Industrial Area then. The band, overly excited at the prospect of recording their song, was at the studio as requested. Unfortunately, their naivety about property rights and how record labels work was about to cost them. Teddy revealed how green they were when they went in for that recording. “We didn’t know about our rights, the legal side of recording.” Intellectual property (IP) was nothing they’d ever heard of, and it took Them Mushrooms a while to realise that they existed, as well as copyrighting and publishing rights. “Back in the day, these things were not known to musicians. They were only guarded secrets by record labels,” sighs John.

Teddy Harrison

Teddy Harrison

“At 5pm when we are through, they give us a contract to sign saying, ‘We are about to close the offices, please read [this] and then sign.’” And it’s now that one of Billy’s mysterious laughs comes out – stemming, I’d reckon, from the absurdity of the situation rather than any genuine enjoyment in recalling the memory. Teddy unknowingly signed the song away, and Polygram owned all the rights to “Jambo Bwana.” It took a while for the band to realise the enormity of their mistake. In 1982, they got their first chance to leave the country for Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where they were contracted to perform for three months. That same year, their single achieved Silver status for sales over 50,000. This would increase to 100,000 in 1984 and 200,000 in 1987, earning them Gold and Platinum Disc Awards respectively.

Hanover, Germany was their next stop after the UAE, a trip that would lead them to start looking into IP matters and how to better protect their work. “After recording [here], we went to Germany. We wanted to record in Germany because of their better facilities,” Billy continues. With the help of a friend, they were to meet Boney M’s manager Frank Farian.

Unfortunately, that fell through, but not before the band issued a copy of their famed song for the manager to listen to. The group returned to Kenya, only to hear Boney M’s version of “Jambo Bwana” come out at the end of that year.

We were so young, we didn’t know anything about IP,” John mutters. “We just wanted to hear ourselves on radio like the big stars. Later on we had to fight a contracted battle to get the rights of that song back,” he says, shaking his head. “They played on our illiteracy [when it came to] IP matters.” Back in Mombasa, the band returned to performing in the beach hotels again, until the Carnivore stint came along. However, even as they continued to sing, the burn of losing the rights to their song remained with them. “We’ve learnt a lot over the years, and nobody can ever, ever again take us for a ride. Never.” affirms John. “From the university of hard knocks, we’ve learnt.” It wasn’t until the recording of their 1985 album New Horizons that the contract was retracted and the rights given back.

A Continuous Endeavour

Whether it was noted or not at the time, Them Mushrooms were creating a musical revolution in the country, and in many ways defining what music genre was popular with the times. Even with music styles that had already been popularised then, the band found a way to arrange their compositions in such a manner that would captivate a far reaching audience. “They played and still play authentic Kenyan music from various places, from benga to bango, and they still pull crowds,” says radio veteran Fred Machoka, who’s 30-plus years as a radio host have seen him observe numerous bands materialising in the country. But while some made it only a few years before dissolving, Them Mushrooms have managed to beat all odds and remain one of the oldest bands in the nation.

Almost There Album

The 'Almost There' (1989) album cover.

“A lot of music groups, I guess they get into the scene with a bang and evaporate hardly three years later,” Machoka conveys, but not Them Mushrooms. In that way, having managed to retain the spotlight on themselves for all these years, they certainly “have influenced the Kenyan music scene in the point of being relevant for a long period.”

Nonetheless, quite often when bands reach a peak point in their career, it’s almost inevitable that something drastic happens, usually with band members going awry. Them Mushrooms knew that their individual music preferences varied, but somehow they’d always managed to carry on and accommodate each other. George however continued being disruptive and “sometimes he’d refuse to play when he was not in the mood,” mostly a result of his alcohol consumption.

Teddy had no option but to ask him to leave the band. “It was difficult, because the way we’d played together for so long,” Teddy now remembers. “That sound was unique. But his inconsistency was costing us, so we decided to let him go.”

Kelembe remembers getting a ride from George after a gig at Carnivore, a 20 minute journey to his place that took – due the speeds George was manoeuvring at – about three minutes. “He was still dreadlocked at the time and that's when he showed me his teeth, saying ‘Kwani unafikiri hizi zilienda wapi? (Where do you think these went?)’” He laughs now, but tells me it was a frightening experience then, George’s foot flattening the accelerator as he flashed his toothless grin. “That’s George for you; outgoing and whatever, but he did drink and probably did drugs.”

It was family, however, that kept them together, kept them going, so regardless of faults or shortcomings, they always came back together. If not for each other, they would at least always do it for their mother, their stronghold and biggest supporter.

Rough Times Ahead

“We had reached our peak and we had started making tours,” Billy narrates. They were at the height of their career, travelling for shows to Europe, Asia and around Africa. They were performing in Italy, and Teddy remembers looking out at the crowd of nearly 100,000 people and thinking, “We are actually here, playing for this large audience!” It was a feeling like no other.

I wonder whether, looking back, they were ever worried about not making it, not being able to financially support themselves. “No, never,” John says, shaking his head. “We all left our jobs and went straight into music,” though their mum was sure to let them know that they would have to take the band just as seriously as if it were a job. A “no nonsense” woman, as Sarro describes her, she fully supported her sons and even bought their first drum kit. But she was also a “disciplinarian, very stern, like, ‘You’re gonna do it this way, and you guys are not going to break up as a band.’” Even in situations that were well beyond their control, she had a way of making them carry on.

They were performing in Italy, and Teddy remembers looking out at the crowd of nearly 100,000 people and thinking, “We are actually here, playing for this large audience!” It was a feeling like no other.

During a concert in Ethiopia, the crowd was dancing to Them Mushrooms, moving to the rhythm of the beat. But as the evening progressed, the beat seemed to slow down and drummer Dennis, appeared to be seriously hurting. His brothers knew that he hadn’t been well for a while, but they just were not aware how serious his condition was. Kelembe calls Dennis a “cool number” referring to his giving and favourable nature, while Sarro remembers her uncle as someone who liked to “crack jokes.”

As John tells it, Dennis “got infected with jaundice, so he was turning yellow. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise until we were on tour in Ethiopia, and then that's when we got the full blown symptoms.” He collapsed in the course of that performance, and they rushed him to a hospital in Addis Ababa. “There were no regular flights between Ethiopia and Kenya [then],” George narrates, so Dennis remained in the Addis hospital for a while. When they finally got a connecting flight, “We moved him to Nairobi,” John states sadly. “Three days later he was in the ICU. A week or two later he was gone.”

Unable to go on, the group broke up and for three months, “It’s like we were lost, because we didn’t know what exactly to do,” says Teddy. He starts to talk about his mum, who brought them out of their desolation, but then goes quiet again. I can’t see his eyes, but his stillness is enough to let the moment be. It was their mother who pulled them together and told them to find a way to go on. So after three months, John, Billy and Teddy came back together as a band. “We scouted for three other guys and we got them. December of 1992, the band was back together and we started performing again,” Teddy notes nostalgically.

George, on the other hand “formed [his] own group in Mombasa. “It was called Jabali Jazz. I was with the band from ‘93 to ’98, I think.” It seemed they were all clinging to some new sort of normalcy, and were it not for their mother, things might have really fallen apart. But tragedy would rear its head again, and three years after Dennis’ passing, they would bid their mother farewell too. The punches, it seemed, kept on rolling, but this one hit them hardest. Their song “Mama” – “Mama/ You will always be our number one/ Coz you were there with your helping hand/ When it all begun/...Our strength, our pillar and always our number one” – was the band’s way of saying thank you and goodbye.

Towards the turn of the century, Teddy had noticed that the band was at a point where people’s egos were getting in the way. Tough as it was for him to admit it, it was time to move on and let his brothers carry on with Them Mushrooms. In 2001, when he turned 50, Teddy retired.

A Group Worth Recognition

For 42 years, Them Mushrooms have brought Kenyans and the world music that they will be able to enjoy for even more years to come. But they’ve perhaps never gotten the levels of acclaim they really deserve. “You know, that’s something that you’ll never understand, because the government itself has been using that song [“Jambo Bwana”] for their tourism promotion campaigns everywhere, but they’ve never given us due recognition,” Teddy says.

Fortunately for them, and fans across the world, they are not going anywhere, and there is still time for due credit to be awarded. “I think in a big sense they have and they will continue to be an influence in the Kenyan music industry, and if musicians want longevity then they should take a leaf from Them Mushrooms,” Machoka candidly utters.

Other bands acknowledge how much the group has contributed to the music scene and the development of their bands. “[They] influenced a lot of guys who wanted to be like them,” says Generation Band’s drummer Hasan Mandingo. John Izungu of Safarisound, on the other hand, remembers “people admired them,” because “they had everything at hand” – a family brimming with musical talent and the equipment to help showcase it. But beyond that, they created an impact, Izungu elaborates, particularly with their knack to revive “old songs by artistes such as Fundi Konde.”

Machocka fittingly calls them “remixes of some of our music godfathers gone by,” and further elucidates that, “It is not a small achievement when you take a good song like ‘Mtoto Si Nguo’ by [Johnstone] Ouko Mukabi and others by Fundi Konde, and you remix them and make them relevant to a different generation. I think there is a bit of genius in doing that.” But even songs that they composed – “Ndogo Ndogo”, “Akumu Nyar Kisumu”, “Lala Salama”, “Nyambura” – something that Izungu tells me prompted his band to start their own compositions as well, were greatly received, and to date they are still relevant.

Of course, the introduction of FM stations changed the music that people were exposed to, and according to Billy, “Whenever we had anything we wanted to put across, they said, ‘No, no, no; this is not the stuff we want.’” But this really did little to dissuade the group – all along they’ve had those who’ve told them they won’t make it but time and again they’ve proved them wrong. Billy tells me their mom “used to be told, ‘You’ve left your kids, now they’ve all become wakora (thugs). They are playing music in the bars.’ She said, ‘One day you will take back your words.’ And it didn’t take long.”