Rahi Bains – East African Legend, Voice of Kenya Reunion By Karam Bharij


Most of my contemporaries grew up in East Africa with the voice of Rahi Bains. He was also a teacher at Technical High School where he taught some of my friends. I was envious that they knew him in person whereas I only was privy to his singing on Voice of Kenya Radio Station. Little did I know in those days that I would find out more information from him by personal association one day.

East African Legend

He was legendary singer in East Africa who whose work was recognised in UK.

Music Awards

In recognition of his extraordinary singing talent he has been given following awards:

  1. Appreciation of Services to the community by The Bexley & Sidcup Lions Club in 2018.
  2. A Special Recognition Award by The MTM Bristol in 2016.
  3. Mohd. Rafi award as an Honour for Creative Work in Music by The Guru Nanak Universal Sewa, U.K.
  4. Token of Gratitude presented by The K.L. Saigal Memorial Trust – Jalandhar
  5. Award for Services to Punjabi Culture by “The Punjabi Circle International”
  6. Melvin Jones Fellow award for “dedicated humanitarian services” by Lions Clubs International Foundation
  7. In Appreciation of Services Award presented by The Simba Union Club, Nairobi Kenya in 2009.

Life of Rahi Bains

Let us look at the life and times of the awardee Rahi Bains and his musical achievements Rahi Bains was born in Punjab in 1939 and moved to Kenya in 1947 to join his parents. His father worked for East African Railways. British imported workers from Punjab to work on first railway line built from Mombasa to Nairobi. In Kenya Rahi showed an aptitude to music.

He was trained in Indian Classical Music by two of his gurus, Ustad Manmohan Singh Musapuri and Pandit Manesh Chandra Kansara.

Because of this, his first singing debut, on air was with Voice of Kenya Broadcasting station in 1956, when he sang in the children’s programme Phulwari presented by pioneer in broadcasting Bhaia Moorti. His first appearance in regular evening programmes was on 15th May 1957 when he gave rendition of Aye Mere Punjab Payare in Punjabi programme. He never looked back after that session and demonstrated his talent by singing songs in Punjabi, Gujrati, Urdu ghazals, quwalis, bhajans, Bengali folk and Swahili songs.

In those days it was the Policy of Voice of Kenya station that musicians were not allowed to sing songs already recorded by other artists. This meant that one had to come up with original compositions of songs and tunes. This provided Rahi Bains with ample opportunities to create his original lyrics and musical compositions.

His first ever commercial recording was an EP of Swahili songs, one of which was called Mpenzi Wangu Dolika. It became an instant hit and was extremely popular with Kenyans. In 1967 a Swahili film was produced in Kenya and Rahi Bains was the play back singer. Two songs from the film elevated him to celebrity status in Kenya. These were, “ Eve Mola Ni Bariki and “ Sikizeni Wanainchi.

Voice of Kenya Broadcasting

1961, Ushered in winds of Political changes in Kenya towards an Independent state. Voice of Kenya station was first causality as Asian broadcasting was going to be phased out. However, Rahi continued singing privately due to his popularity.

He left Kenya in 1967 and settled in UK. Here he worked hard and saved money to study western classical music as a full time student and sang in many operas.

In UK, he displayed his singing talent on BBC radio, TV and various commercial TV stations. As a music director, he has composed and arranged music for well-known singers such as Hazara Singh Ramta, Sardool Sikandar, Hans Raj Hans, Minoo Prashotam, Pushpa Hans, Narinder Mankee and many local groups such as Premi, Sunny, Amar and Aag. He has recorded numerous CD’s of his own songs. He regularly gives performance and does voice over for radio advertisements.

Over the years, it has been a pleasure to accompany Rahi Bains as his personal professional photographer. On stage, his charisma and extrovert personality shines through. He is an entertainer who mesmerises the audience and gets them involved in his performance. Having seen him perform, there is no doubt that he has been a well-deserved recipient of various awards.


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