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Kikuyu benga musician Joseph Kamaru dead at 79

Celebrated Kikuyu benga musician Joseph Kamaru has died at the MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi where he had been admitted since Monday after he fell ill, his son, Stephen Maina, has confirmed.

He was aged 79.

Kamaru, who hailed from Kangema in Murang’a County was born in 1939. He started his singing career in 1956.

Mr Maina said that the king of benga died at about 9.50pm Wednesday after developing difficulties in breathing.

“Our dad has gone to be with the Lord while at MP Shah Hospital where we took him on Monday after having difficulties in breathing and having tremors.

“He was diagnosed with Parkinson plus, a nerve disease which we believe is the main cause of his death. But we thank God for giving him to us,” Mr Maina told the Nation.


He said the late Kamaru has left behind four siblings, Maina Kamaru, Macharia Kamaru, Wanjiru and Mr Macharia (two men with the same name, Macharia).

Mr Maina said the musician started developing health problems at the beginning of 2018.

On April 27 this year, the benga musician trashed news about his death which was circulating on social media.

Speaking to the Nation then at Avenue Hospital in Nairobi, Mr Kamaru said God could not take him until he oversaw changes in the music industry and mentor upcoming musicians to get the best songs for their audiences and in return get a better pay.


“There have never been bad times for the music industry like these times; there are cartels and the piracy issues. The Lord God can’t take me before ensuring that musicians get the sweat of their hard work,” he noted.

Mr Kamaru, who started singing in 1956, is popularly known for his hits like Tiga Kuhenia Igoti and Uthoni Wa Mbathini among others.

He had said that he intended to build a kikuyu cultural home in one of his many farms in Murang’a to safeguard and protect the Kikuyu culture, a dream he has not managed to achieve.

Kikuyu pop musician Epha Maina eulogised the late Kamaru terming him as the “father of all the artistes” and one whom they relied on for advice and ways to improve the music industry.

“It is a loss to the the Mt Kenya region and whole country at large. He was a strong pillar in the music industry but God had his plans for him,” Mr Maina told Nation.