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Exclusive: How we celebrated C’Zars’ 35th birthday since he disappeared 18 years ago

Child star Abdulkarim Mohammed, popularly known as C’zars, captured the hearts of Kenyan teenagers circa 2005 when he released his much-loved Amka Ukatike hit single.

Dressed as a teenager in a white school shirt paired with a maroon sweater and black trousers, he released the video to the much-hyped song that captured the hearts of Kenyan teenagers in the early 2000s.

His song was danced in classrooms, in canteens during entertainment sessions, at ‘funkiez’ in various boarding schools and at events such as Chaguo La Teeniez where teenagers flocked to celebrate music.

If you didn’t know how to dance to this song with the energy and hipness it deserved, especially at the ‘bam, bam, bam, bam’ part of the chorus, then you were not a cool kid by any standards. That was the command this song had over teenagers at the time.

But at the age of 17, C’Zars disappeared. What began as a leisurely afternoon stroll from his family home in Bamburi, Mombasa County, turned into an agonising 18-year absence, leaving his loved ones and the nation to grapple with unrelenting grief.

Every nook and cranny has been painstakingly searched, every lead followed, and yet he remains a memorable figure, lost in the shadows of that fateful afternoon.

His footsteps, frozen in time, continue to echo the silent longing of the hearts left shattered in his wake. Among the most broken are his family, who mark the 5th of February, C’Zars’ birthday, each year with aching hearts, longing for his return.

Each passing year adds another layer of longing to their grief, as they cling to the memory of a son and brother lost to the unknown, and the unrelenting hope that one day he will return home from his afternoon walk.

Speaking to Nairobi News, Mzee Abdul Makasi, C’Zar’s father, explained how the family has dealt with C’Zar’s birthday, 5 February, since his disappearance in 2006.

“We don’t celebrate his birthday. We are always filled with worry and sadness. You know, there are times when we don’t keep up with some things or we don’t follow through, like sitting down and celebrating. Unless there is someone somewhere who remembers (it) wherever they are, they just start worrying all over again. Then we pray to Allah, we make Dua to Allah in the house. That is the celebration that we do. To ask Allah to bring C’Zars home much quicker. That is what we do – there is no eating and drinking. We don’t have parties. We just leave him to Allah with our prayers,” said Mzee Makasi.

According to Islamic Help, Dua means invocation – the intention of calling. It is an act of supplication where one asks or begs for something earnestly or humbly. It is also an act of worship in which Muslims ask Allah for His forgiveness and mercy, and ask Him to grant them His favour by answering their prayer requests.

The family’s hope remains that their beloved son will one day return home from his walk.

In his absence, they continue to make plans for his arrival, including Mzee Makasi registering his assets in C’Zar’s name, collecting C’Zar’s royalties from various streaming platforms and purchasing a vehicle for his use.

All this to ensure that he can resume his life smoothly – as if he had never left.

They have already collected Sh71,000 from YouTube, which Mzee Makasi will keep and give to C’Zars when he returns.

They are now tracking his royalties from Safaricom’s Skiza Tunes and also plan to go to the Music Copyright Society of Kenya to collect royalties owed to C’Zars that were collected in the period before he disappeared.