Identity and Musical Score in Tosh Gitonga’s Nairobi Half Life

  • Simon Peter Otieno University of Nairobi
Keywords: Musical Score, Kenya, Nairobi Half Life


This paper draws attention to the use of music as a narratological device and marker of identity with close reference to Nairobi Half life by Tosh Gitonga. With close analysis within cultural narratology the paper contests the loose usage of musical scores in Kenyan films and emphasizes that African film with an African score defines the cultural milieu of the setting and thus places itself noticeably and contextually on a world platform. Such composition is ‘fresh’ with an unmistakeable identity and is a pedestal Kenyan films are yet to fully claim. The research also notes that Kenyan music like Ayub Ogada’s Koth Biro has been used in several international films like The Constant Gardener to give the production a feel of an African context for the western audience. While pointing out the lack of musical direction in some Kenyan films and television programmes the paper states that the practice of film scoring can be learned but also demands a lot of intuition and a deep understanding of the people’s love of music. It emphasizes that the practice demands not only practical experience but also learned observation/listening to perfect the art of making the viewer ‘to see the sound and hear the picture’. The paper reflects conclusively that Kenya is devoid of musicians who specialise in film scoring and that film makers need to empower the musicians along the same by budgeting and involving them in the making of the films.

Author Biography

Simon Peter Otieno, University of Nairobi

Department of Literature

How to Cite
Otieno, S. (2020). Identity and Musical Score in Tosh Gitonga’s Nairobi Half Life. Journal of African Theatre, Film and Media Discourse, 1(1), 86-96. Retrieved from