Kenya: State of Music Industry and Achievements of Pacemakers


As the curtains fell on the festivities to bid farewell to the year 2018 and usher in a New Year, local and international music industry will be grappling with voids left by the passing away of popular entertainers.

In January last year, a few days after ushering in the New Year, Kenyans and lovers of Benga music woke to the sad news of the demise of Gabriel Omollo – best known for his zilizopendwa (those which were loved) hit “Lunch time”.

Born in 1939, and raised at the Kenya Railways quarters of Muthurwa and later in Makongeni, Nairobi, Omollo learnt how to play the guitar while at St Peter Claver Primary School.

He also sang in the choir before his career took off in the 1960s after he joined the iconic Equator Sound Band.

AWARD

While with the band, he had a chance of performing alongside Daudi Kabaka and Fadhili William. He also played the lead bass guitar in the popular Tsotsi composition titled “Pole Musa”.

In September 1974, Omollo was awarded an International Golden Disc after his single “Lunch time” sold more than 150,000 copies in East and West Africa.

Later, in the same year, the singer, who performed at the first Mashujaa Day in 2010 after the promulgation of the Constitution, was also awarded Guinness Stout Effort Award.

He also sang other singles like “Keep Change”, “Mr Kupe”, “Fundi”, “Mpende Mkeo”, “Mchumba Rossy”, among others which were equally popular.

MASEKELA

On January 23 last year, South Africa jazz maestro Ramapolo Hugh Masekela breathed his last at the age of 78 after a long battle with prostate cancer.

The founding father of jazz music in South Africa, and who was known for his mastery as a trumpeter, songwriter and composer, is credited for popular songs against apartheid like “Bring him back home”, and “Soweto Blues”. He was the brainchild behind the soundtrack “Sarafina”.

From 1964 to 1966, he was married to singer Miriam Makeba of the popular “Pata Pata” and “Malaika” hit songs.

In Kenya, the death that shook the music industry was the death of Kikuyu benga musician Joseph Kamaru, aged 79.

Kamaru, who hailed from Kangema in Murang’a County, was born in 1939. He started his singing career in 1956 and went on to record many hit songs like “Ndari ya Mwalimu”, which highlighted affairs between wayward teachers and pupils; “Tiga Kuhenia Igoti” (Don’t lie to the court), “Nuu Ucio”, an insight into the issue of promiscuity, “Muhiki wa Mikosi”, a song that highlighted cases of men having close shave encounters with women they met in drinking places, “Uthoni wa Mbathini” (a love affair ignited when two passengers sat next to each other in a bus), among others.

STATE HOUSE

He was buried at his home in Kaharati in Maragua, Murang’a County. The burial was attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and a host of dignitaries from the country.

During the burial, Catherine Gathoni, sister to the late Kamaru, enjoyed a light moment with President Kenyatta.

Catherine was the voice behind a lady known as Celina and was featured in Kamaru’s songs like “Celina Hingura Murango” among others.

An invite by the President to the musicians to State House flopped after the musicians could not agree on who would represent them.

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Publish date : 2019-01-04 11:27:28

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