Ayub Ogada was born in 1956 in Mombasa, Kenya. He is a descendant of the Luo people of western Kenya and was influenced by their musical heritage by his parents who were musicians. They performed Luo music to Kenyan and US audiences. Ayub’s experience of travelling with his parents to the US and his exposure to both western and African cultures had a profound effect on his music and outlook.
While at school in Kenya, Ayub played various instruments in bands and embraced both traditional and modern music. In 1979 after leaving school, he co-founded the African Heritage Band, fusing traditional music with the sounds of rock and soul that Ogada and his band mates heard regularly on the radio.
In 1986, Ayub set his sights on the UK and travelled to London clutching his Luo nyatiti (an eight string traditional lyre). He scraped a living by busking on the city’s streets and the London underground. In 1988, he was approached and asked to play at Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD festival in Cornwall. His breakthrough came there. Perchance a band cancelled and Ayub’s ten-minute slot stretched to a full set. Among the won over fans that day was Peter Gabriel himself.
Ayub was invited to take part in one of the ‘recording weeks’ at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Wiltshire. In 1993, he recorded his first album En Mana Kuoyo (Just Sand) at the studio and he toured extensively with Peter Gabriel and WOMAD.
Ayub’s music is on the soundtracks of films such as ‘I Dreamed of Africa’ (2000), ‘The Constant Gardener’ (2005) and ‘Samsara’ (2011). His music was also used in the soundtrack for Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman’s BBC series Long Way Round and Long Way Down.
Ayub has also acted under his birth name, Job Seda. He played Robert Redford’s Masaii warrior sidekick in Out of Africa (1985) and also starred in The Kitchen Toto (1987).
In July 2005 Ayub Ogada performed at the Live 8 concert, Eden Project as the opening act with his band, Union Nowhere. They released the album Tanguru in 2007, the year Ayub moved back to Kenya.
In 2012, the English musician Trevor Warren went to Kenya to visit Ayub. Together with the Kenyan musician and engineer Isaac Gem, they composed and recorded the album Kodhi (meaning seed in Luo).
Kodhi was released on 20th April 2015 on Long Tale Recordings.