Kenya: Sauti Sol wants to elevate African storytelling with Sol Kids

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As one of the few bands that truly enjoys Africa-wide acclaim, Sauti Sol has shown that it’s not enough to rest on your laurels; this is why the band was in the news last week after it added children’s content to its repertoire.

Under a new imprint called Sol Kids, the Kenyan band is venturing into one of the most underappreciated but highly important content markets on the continent. Indeed, looking at this more critically, this move goes far beyond commercial activity.

Despite boasting a rich oral tradition, Africa has never shown the world the full extent of its rich storytelling heritage. The dearth of children’s books and audio-visual products has meant that Western content is the go-to choice for African children and their parents – as traditional community structures disappear in favour of modernity.

This is why it’s refreshing to hear about ventures like Sol Kids. By choosing to develop and grow African children’s content, Sauti Sol will be aiming to ameliorate the situation by giving local stories the attention they deserve.

During the launch of Sol Kids in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Sauti Sol succinctly summarised their intentions through the mantra “Stories by Us, for Us and About Us”. This comes at a time when three of its members have begun settling down to start families, lending credence to their aspirations.

“Our goals as Sol Kids are captured in the acronym LEA [a play on the Swahili word for ‘nurture’] – standing for literacy, empowerment and accessibility,” the band said in a statement. “’Literacy’, through books, content and media, we will raise readers using pan-African content and culture. ‘Empower’, using relatable context that empowers Africans to see their past, present, potential and future. ‘Accessibility’, to create and promote high-quality content that is accessible to all children on all platforms.”

The venture is a collaboration between Sauti Sol and Melissa Wakhu, a seasoned author with six best-selling children’s books and more than 20 years’ experience working with young people.

Sol Kids will use storytelling as a tool to reinforce cultural pride through content that will celebrate, educate and inspire African children – with band member Polycarp Otieno having already authored two books: Lala Land and Written in the Stars.

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