If you ask Kenn Wanaku about his relationship with music, he’d tell you that, “music becomes a part of your waking up and your going to sleep…I feel that music is a very spiritual thing…it is very important.” A strong believer that music is the predecessor of all things, Wanaku’s thoughts are just as innovative as his name (he added an extra “n” to Ken to distinguish himself from so many others). From English speaking Cameroon, Wanaku has exercised pan-Africanism as he has also lived and worked in Nigeria from 1978-83.
However, credit can be given to him for the evolution in the Cameroonian television industry. Upon returning from working for a national television network in Nigeria, he began to help the Cameroonian television industry grow. Believe it or not, in 1985, there was no national television network in Cameroon. Wanaku was one of the pioneers to change the broadcast system for his home country.
And he is no stranger to cameras, as he reminisces on his photographic grandfather who he would observe as a child. Years later, in 1992, he produced a movie in Cameroon called Quartier Mozart, which is the story of a young girl who is focused on gender relationships. This film had the honor of being presented in the Cannes Film Festival and Wanaku ultimately won an award for best African creative movie.
But his forte has always been music. From a country where no music school exists, “for me guitar is just like a tool,” he stated. Wanaku’s grandfather also had a traditional music group back home who would play music for funerals and to mobilize and inform the community. As singer who sometimes combines the use of the harmonica and drums in his performances, he believes each person needs to have music in their hearts and that all Black people are connected by a drum beat. For this reason he is a member of an Afro pop music group called “Sunplugd,” whose name symbolizes the energy the group has; the same energy that comes from the sun.
Wanaku has played at Café Maude in Richfield, T’s Place, and Blue Nile in Minneapolis. When asked what the audience can expect at the April African Global Roots event, he stated, “expect to have a really good time with a bunch of African immigrants who are ready to share the good time.”
Wanaku has two albums to date. In 2000 he released “Save Africa” and in 2006 he released “Afrikanguitarstrophy.” Although Wanaku has kept his day job, he is definitely destined for a life with music. He plans to continue to play live music and bring more light into people’s lives. In his own words, “I think if there is a lot more good music it will create a better environment for people to survive in.”
For more information on Kenn Wanaku go to www.sunplugd.com or www.cdbaby.com.
He is the artist of the Month and he will be at the next African Global Roots event on Friday April 25 at T’s Place (Restaurant and Bar), 2713 East Lake Street. Please call 612-724-8868 for more information. The event is FREE & open for the public.
The event is Co-sponsored by the African News Journal