An analysis of stylistic features in Ronald Ontiri Onchuru’s popular music


  • Joel Atuti Osubo Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya
  • Charles Kebaya Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya


communication, cognitive reality, cultural experience, language, popular music, style


This paper examines the stylistic features utilized in Ronald Ontiri Onchuru’s popular music as he seeks to represent the cognitive reality in the Abagusii society. The article shows that style plays a pivotal role in articulating societal reality through popular music. As such music is regarded as a very powerful medium to an extent that in some societies there have been attempts to control its use. It is powerful at the level of the social group because it facilitates communication which goes beyond words, enables meanings to be shared, and promotes the development and maintenance of individual, group, cultural and national identities. It is powerful at the individual level because it can induce multiple responses – physiological, movement, mood, emotional, cognitive and behavioral. Few other stimuli have effects on such a wide range of human functions. The power of music lies on the language deployed by the artiste to convey the intended message. Consequently, this article examined how Ronald Ontiri Onchuru, popularly known as Bikundo, deploys language in his popular music to foreground various issues in the Abagusii community. Ronald Ontiri Bikundo is one of the popular musicians among the Abagusii of western Kenya. The study was premised on the understanding that style is one of the tools available to any creative artist in articulating issues affecting society. Consequently, it sought to identify and analyse various features of style in Bikundo’s popular music and how they are used to bring out diverse thematic concerns in the music. The study delimited itself to the analysis of Bikundo’s purposively sampled popular songs.  The study relies on Semiotics and Sociological theories. The study reveals that Bikundo uses various styles such as metaphor, symbolism, personification and idiomatic expressions to foreground themes such as HIV/AIDS, hardwork, poverty, and love. 


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Author Biography

Joel Atuti Osubo, Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya

Joel Atuti Osubo holds a Bachelor of Education Arts degree in English and Literature and is currently pursuing Master of Arts in Literature at Machakos University, Kenya. His research interests are in popular music and oral literature.


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How to Cite

Osubo, J. A., & Kebaya, C. (2023). An analysis of stylistic features in Ronald Ontiri Onchuru’s popular music. Nairobi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(1), 12-24.




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