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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Kumekucha Has Lost a Syllable in Kifoto's Death

The curtain has fallen on a name that is not only closely associated with this blog but and also inspired its nomenclature. Today (Amka) Kumekucha has lost a syllable in Habel Kifoto's death.

Kenya's present generation may not know what they missed until they listen to the EVERGREEN Maroon Commandos led by the burly guitarist Habel Kifoto. Well, that no nonsense band leader has just past on in some nondescript hotel room in Madaraka estate where he was staying in readiness for a Music Society of Kenya (MSK) board meeting.

Those old enough can only imagine the grief of one indefatigable DJ Jeff Mwangemi whose infectious laughter when introducing local talent over the radio made madmen offer handshake to strangers. Only people like Jeff with their natural charm would break the monotony and boredom of the monolithic KBC then.

The late Habel Kifoto of Charonyi ni Wasi fame was born in Taita District of Coast Province. He started his music career back in 60s and started playing bass guitar in 1967 until when he started his skill in Solo lead guitar.

That Maroon Commandos was synonymous with Habel Kifoto is irrefutable. The soldier in him never dimmed not diminished his vocal prowess. Instead he lead from the from the front strumming the strings and by example in leading his fellow soldiers to musical glory.

Nostalgia galore for those fortunate/old enough to have graced the then agricultural shows where Habel Kifoto and his Maroon (Green) Commandos had villagers and urbanites alike shake their legs to nationalistic songs whose inspirational was way ahead of our past and present tribal leaders. What is more, apart from Aziz Abdi (Kilambo), few musicians appealed beyond tribal enclaves. if in doubt just ask PENSIONERS.

Kenya has lost her equivalent of both Baraka Mwinshehe and Remi Ongala. It is a sad day for Kenyan music, (wana) Maroon Commados and 7KR.

Fare thee well Habel Kifoto.


Tribute to Habel Kifoto from Chris Kumekucha

Tears are blurring my eyes and I have a heavy heart as I write this brief tribute to a truly unsung hero of the republic.

I was sincerely looking forward to his classic (which has always been the anthem of this blog) Amka Kumekucha being played over and over again one day in 2012 when we have a new government and government structure in place. In my heart I knew that that would be the moment when Kenyans would wake up and really notice this talented Kenyan who has given so much and yet received so little in return.

Alas it was not to be. We will still play his song but it will not be the same.

I agree with my comrade in arms Taabu that Kumekucha the blog has truly lost a syllable.

"His life was gentle; and the elements
So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, THIS WAS A MAN!"

— William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)

RIP afande!!!


Today's post by Kumekucha Chris: What is this new thing happening in Kenya?

28 comments:

Kenya army blogspot said...

" Fare thee well Afande "

Mwarang'ethe said...

Those days:

ewe ndugu yangu wee
amka kumekucha
kamata JEMBE na panga
twende SHAMBA

http://is.gd/ywx4hU

luke said...

Taabu,
RIP Habel,and what is more BLIND than the hand of death to always snatch the ORIGINAL MASTERPIECES and leave behind the unwanted unoriginals (MPs, Politicians,

Although I was a greater fan of samba mapangala and San Fan Thomas, i appreciated the artistic national treasure we had in Maroon Commandos, and it goes without saying that if it was not for their soulfoul Shikamoo which gave me plenty of happy dance memories i would not have appreciated the female members they drafted into their ranks to add a youthful appeal to the rural/urban youth growing up listening to the terrible sounds of "Beatles" from Europe

God speed thee Kifoto

Sayra said...

RIP Habel Kifoto.

Luke kuwa mpole, the sounds of '"Beatles" from Europe' were not terrible.

Anonymous said...

There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher - Henry Van Dyke.

That's what the late Habel Kifoto, el maestro de musica, call him meítre de musique if you will, did during a larger part of his life.

He lifted the country's mood as well as the spirits of most Kenyans from all walks of life with his exceptionally great music talent and personality.

One of his greatest hits, Amuka Kumekucha became a clarion call and exhortation for national, regional as well as personal development.

Habel Kifoto was considered one of the greatest performers of Kenyan music in the country and East African region.

A musician who was renowned for his inspirational clever lyrics and original melodies, and above all, he never wavered nor was he ever tempted to immitate (ape or copycat) other musicians from Tanzania, DRC (Dem. Rep. of the Congo, formerly Zaire, Rep of South Africa or Europe.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, he remained true to himself and very faithful to his style of music.

Suffice it to say his music added an evocative element of sound to the narrative and the lyrics gave Kenyans a uniquely sense of national pride in themselves, and a real affinity for the armed forces in general.

Habel Kifoto and the Maroon Commandos ("the Greens") were the real ambassadors and frontline standard bearers with regard to the civilian and military interactions or quasi relations.

There were other Kenyan military bands, like The Blue Rangers and others, that rivaled the Maroon Commados within the armed forces'inner circles, but never achieved the popularity, same level of success and fan base on the Kenyan music scene as the one enjoyed by Habel Kifoto and the Maroon Commados.

Habel and "The Greens" became one of Kenya's leading bands, gained a faithful following due to their relentless touring and energetic live performances (gigs) during the Agricultural Shows (fares), national holidays, and at various selected venues around the Nairobi as well as in other urban centers in the country.

The band always created a memorable and exciting atmosphere whenever and wherever they performed for their legions of fans, civilian populations and soldiers alike. Hence, raising the bar that got so many people hooked to their style of music.

There is one aspect of Habel Kifoto's life that is always forgotten, which is, music was not his primary source of revenue.

But it was his vocation, and he composed, performed and played music for the love of it, for raising the morale of his fellow soldiers, for the legions of his faithful fans and for his beloved country, Kenya.

He once said, "I believe that whatever I have been given is to be shared with others, and I never worry about running out of energy or music while performing for the public, soldiers or at various official government functions."

Habel Kifoto was a person who had the ability to do for other Kenyans what they could not do for themselves when it came to the sphere of entertainment and musical influence.

May the late Meítere de Musique, Habel Kifoto continue to compoase and play music in the big skies above the homeland that he so dearly loved to the best of his ability.

+Rest In Eternal Peace!

Anonymous said...

May his soul rest in peace. I never understood why some people always referred to him as Abel Kitoto instead of Habel Kifoto. I guess they just assumed they heard the names correctly pronounced in their own way. On a lighter, I coundn't help but laugh out loud about "...DJ Jeff Mwangemi whose infectious laughter when introducing local talent over the radio made madmen offer handshakes to strangers."

Anonymous said...

Never heard of the fellow but this is Kenya where we like glorifying people's talents after they die.
I wish his family peace during these trying moments.

luke said...

Sayra,
my apologies, the "Beatles" were not terrible

Anonymous said...

Long live Charonyi ni Wasi, and live and let live Amka Kumekucha. A native son, Habel Kifoto has been released from our amidst, and all we can say in his memory is, a very big thank you so much for everything. RIP.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:18 PM,
Allow me to ask one predictable question of you, what major achievement of your lifetime story do you think will be fitting to be worthy of glorification by those who knew you when the bells toll, "dust to dust, ashes to ashes, soul to soul"?

Anonymous said...

We all have a right to our own individual vices, however, did you really have to comment on it in that kind of manner? ...but this is Kenya - [the only place in the world] - where we like glorifying people's talents after they die?

Anyhow, if you have nothing nice to say about the dead then avoid getting in the depressive habit of cynically cursing others who like to magnify - not glorify - their one time well liked famous country men and women.

All things considered, it's a known fact of life that any sober eulogist has the impossible task of satisfying the associates of the dead, who would wish that their deeds be magnified (or glorified as it were), while those like anonymous @4:18 PM and others feel jealous and at same time suspect exaggeration as well as some sort of embellishment of the achievements of departed Kenyans like the late Habel Kifoto among others.

On the other hand, Give Me My Roses While I Live or give me my praises, unga, ugali, chapati, wali, nyama choma, karanga, mboilo, kumi-kumi, baridi kama kawaida, accolades, glorification, edification etc while I am still alive, is a familiar theme that is hard to avoid but I will not get into at this stage.

However, be reminded that don't be hindered by the obscurity of your current station in life to the point where you are forced by circumstances to exercise constant jealous surveillance over who gets praised, magnified or 'edified' once they have passed away or crossed over for good.

Collective or serial eulogies are a one time deal and the best befitting act of rememberance that be done for those who are no longer among us.

Such is life.

M. Pesa said...

The last three months have been terrible to music lovers and Kenya as a whole. We have lost Musa Juma, Mghanga and now Kifoto.
I have just changed my ringtone to "charonyi ni wasi" to honour this great Kenyan musician. Lala salama ndugu!

**************

"Charonyi ni Wasi" is a timeless classic. One of the songs that have stood the test of time just like "Malaika", "Nimaru", "Sina Makosa" and of course the greatest oldie in my opinion by Les Wanyika called "Afro wa Kirinyaga". If u really want to know the lady who inspired this hit song and how she (AFRO) looks like today, watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7GqtzN_Sew&feature=player_embedded

kumekucha said...

@Mpesa it seems that not only do we share very similar views on many subjects but we also like the same kind of music. Slight difference though for me, Nimaru is the greatest oldie by Les Wanyika although I also love Afro.

Chris Kumekucha

Taabu said...

@M-Pesa,
Kwani wewe pia ni PENSIONER kama Chris? Poleni sana. Kenya has lost a MAESTRO.

@Chris,
Watch out for Luka lest he BEATLES you (with Sayra)

Phil said...

Chris

This is the first useful post you have posted in 2011.

RIP Habel Kifoto.

2nd generation Maroon Commandos still perform at Kosewe (Ranalo Dishes) on weekends and if you are trully serious about what you post here Chris, tukutane huko on Friday.

The guys left a family behind and you can only put your money where your mouth is.

luke said...

Taabu,
True or False you and Chris are RE-RECORDING "amka Kumekucha" timeless classic? please post the audio EAR CANDY on KK so that we can also enjoy

M. Pesa said...

Hehehe, I adore oldies to say the least since I grew up listening to them thanks to my late dad. He used to carefully dust those classic vinyl records before playing and singing along after drinking one too many.

Who can forget that "scratchy-scratchy" sound just before the song started playing? So yes, I'm not too far away from (joining the club)being a pensioner!

@PHIL, Kosewe dishes is a great joint though prices have shot way up to the roof. (Fish and ugali @ 400 bob before having a drink? Mmmm?)

For that price you can have same lunch for two in that restaurant above Ushindi expo, opp Jeevanjee Muindi Mbingu st) But yes, Kosewe is def the cleanest joint in Nairobi, period! Problem is one can't get a parking space anywhere near (day or night) and even if you do you risk having your mirrors ripped off by smartly dressed thieves who even wear nice suits and ties!

RIP Bwana Kifoto. Your sweet music lives on!

Taabu said...

@Luka,
Sorry PENSIONERS don't walk with ears covered with those HUGE HEADPHONES nor plugged lest ........Nostalgia only leaves them going for AUTHENTIC stuff, na wewe?

@Phil,
The 2nd generation MC are trying but no substitute for the ORIGINAL ama? That lorry which drops them off Kimathi St speaks volumes.

RIP Kifoto.

Anonymous said...

@Chris Kumekucha,
You were missed in Manda Island, at the just concluded gathering of like mind people for a good cause. Where were thou?

Further, you were also expected to appear on 'The Cafe - Nairobi' among the gatherers at the round table discussions.

Wambugu, Githuki, Atsango, Kaara, Amolo Jaduog (spl), Muite ("Mr. Call Him") and the hostess Ndege were there and they did raise the talks a notch higher.

'The cafe' gathering may compliment 'The Bench' if all goes well and if more participants agree to appear at 'The Cafe' for the common good conversations and with the right intentions.

Anonymous said...

@M.Pesa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7GqtzN_Sew&feature=player_embedded -did not match any documents. Did you make sure all the words were spelled correctly?

Any alternative suggestion? Just want to see out of curiosity.

Anonymous said...

anon 7.11

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7GqtzN_Sew

kumekucha said...

Anon@6:53 AM

How was I missed and yet I was never invited?

Kindly invite me next time and you never know... I could send a representative or even turn up myself.

Chris Kumekucha

Anonymous said...

what fool. waiting to be invited.
anyway, i think it's time we talked about the 82 coup. shame on you using someone's death!

Anonymous said...

is pensioner Taabu back to deleting comments? what a useless haggard man!!

Anonymous said...

Habel Kifoto's music ivokes a lot of good childhood memories. He was a great musician who was renowned for his vocals, a trailblazer and a cultural icon who defined a generation.

He will be geatly missed and fondly remembered.

Anonymous said...

The mention of Hosni Mubarak is a sidebar issue and not an attempt to change the topic at hand, nor to trivialize the late Habel Kifoto's death.

The drastic reversal of fortune is one of the most feared vindicative animals in the world that many people wish they never ever have to encounter for the rest of their lives.

One morning you pull yourself up from a golden bed in a huge bedroom located in one of the most maginificent palaces that would make the former Egyptian pharoahs put to rest in the Valley of Kings scream with uttermost jealousy and stare back at you with ancient eyes filled with envy.

Then the next morning you're woken up by prison guards instead of the elite bodyguards or the elderly chambermaid whose name you never cared to know let alone take a single look at her face or even say an occasional "thank-you-so-much" or even with the usual master-servant ice breakers such as "how is the weather today?" and so forth, in the course of the thirty years she served you so deligently without ever failing to show up for duty on any given day while you were still the 'Mighty Pharaoh of Pharaohs' and ruler of the whole empire as you knwe it.

Only to find yourself being wheeled into the courtroom on a gurney and placed in a barred cage in order to face charges against the atrocities you committed while you were the Pharaoh of your former mighty empire of old.

The scenario probably sounds like a small thing but it's hard to believe that anybody would not get caught in that kind of moment after having forfeited hundreds of opportunities, foreign political offers and special personal favours of spending the rest of your life in luxurious exile setting.

The question on many people's minds is, what the hell was the mighty Pharaoh Hosni Mubarak thinking at the time when he knew very well that the odds were heavily stacked against him and his only next best alternative was to flee tha land of Egypt in a matter of hours?

Anonymous said...

There is an old saying in the Middle East which cautions those who are in power as well as those wishing to seek power, in other words, A fool flatters himself, a so called wise man or woman flatters the fool, and the whole village or market place flatters them both.

Such was the case with Hosni Mubarak and still is the case with many wannabe pharaohs in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, history keeps repeating itself, as is the case with the forty-five year old cruel pharaoh of the Syrian Arab Republic is next.

The Syrian people have had enough of the Assad dynasty since the 22nd of February 1971, and the ongoing oppression, military crack downs, mass imprisonments, wanton destructions of porpertty and mass killings of innocent civilians, brings back the national dark memories of Hama Massacre of 1982, which was carried out on the orders of Hafez al-Assad and rated as "the single dealiest act by an Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East.

Leaders and little pharaohs who choose to convenietly forget their country's past are bound to carry out the very same or worse acts of cruelity, madness, and state sanctioned open season executions of innocent civilians within the borders of the republics they purport to "own" with an iron fist, or rule with a very bloody sword.

Anonymous said...

May God grant Habel Kifoto eternal rest. He left a true legacy. Even those of us born in the late 70s remember his music. And irrespective of our tastes we must agree that they are masterpieces.

Kumekucha, I accidentally stumbled across your blog recently and I enjoy checking what's new from time to time. It may interest you to know that there shall be a fundraising organised by the family and friends of the late Kifoto on the evening of Tuesday 09th August 2011 at K'Osewe's. The Maroon Commandos shall be in attendance. Let's give the old man a dignified sendoff.

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