Oral History Spotlight: Emily Achieng Akuno

Elizabeth Dale

Emily Achieng’ Akuno is currently a Professor of Music at the Technical University of Kenya, a “burgeoning hub for music and other creative arts within Nairobi’s Central Business District.” Having served as a steward both locally and globally, Achieng’ Akuno is a champion for music education for all serving in prestigious positions with notable organizations such as the IMC and ISME.

Achieng’ Akuno’s education began at Kenyatta University, Kenya, where she earned a Bachelor of Education (Arts) degree. From there, Professor Achieng’ Akuno went on to obtain a Master of Music degree from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, and later, a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Kingston University, Surrey, UK. Harnessing her education’s power, Achieng’ Akuno has since accumulated over 30 years of higher education teaching, research, and administration experience. She has supervised and mentored over 30 postgraduate students at both the Doctoral and Master's degree levels. Achieng' Akuno has also served in various senior and middle-level management positions in Kenya and abroad, including at Kenyatta University, Maseno University, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. In addition to these achievements, Achieng’ Akuno is also widely published, with over 40 academic works lending to her superior music education reputation.


Outside of her university classroom and campus, Achieng’ Akuno is a passionate champion for music and music education. One of her most notable achievements was her election as the first music professor from Kenya as president of the International Music Council (IMC) in 2018. IMC, founded by UNESCO, is “the world’s largest network of organizations and institutions working in the field of music.” It “promotes access to music for all and the value of music in the lives of all people.” Upon her election, Achieng’ Akuno said, “I think IMC’s role could not be more needed today in a world characterized by segregation and strife. That music can restore sanity and engage people of diverse heritages, ideological orientations and even intellectual capacities is a fact on which I would wish IMC to ride, thereby being an inclusive organization that has, makes, and demands room for all music practitioners, no matter their level and form of engagement.”

Achieng’ Akuno has also been an active member of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) throughout her tenured career. ISME “believes that lived experiences of music, in all their many aspects, are a vital part of the life of all people.” Achieng’ Akuno has served with ISME as a board member, Interim Secretary-General, and as a member and chair of the organization's Music in the School and Teacher Education Commission.

Please enjoy a segment from Achieng’ Akuno’s 2019 NAMM Oral History interview.

Emily Achieng Akuno

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For Achieng’ Akuno’s full interview, please visit /library/oral-history/emily-achieng-akuno.