One of Kenya’s leading musicians, Habel Kifoto, is dead.
Kifoto, who co-founded and led the Kenya Army outfit Maroon Commandos for several decades, collapsed and died at a hotel in Nairobi’s Madaraka estate on Sunday afternoon.
Mr David Kibe, his longtime counterpart and co-founder of Maroon Commandos, said he got a call from Kifoto’s daughter.
“He appeared to have succumbed to suspected heart failure and was found alone in the hotel room,” Mr Kibe said.
Mr Christopher Munika, a Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MSCK) official in Nairobi said he was called to the hotel.
“Efforts to open the room proved futile till we were called,” Mr Munika said.
Kifoto, the composer of the hit song Charonyi ni Wasi, which put the Lang’ata Barracks-based band on the national map and earned its members fame and glory, has been leading a quiet life since retiring from the military, giving up leadership of one of the most prolific Nairobi bands.
He was a former chairman of the MSCK and, according to his counterparts, was in Nairobi for a board meeting.
Kifoto’s death is a blow to the music fraternity, which is still mourning the death of Musa Juma, the leader of Limpopo International Band, a highly polished group that excelled in rhumba.
Kifoto, a burly guitarist, composer and no nonsense band leader, is credited with guiding Maroon Commandos to the pinnacle, giving competition to Kenya-based Congolese and Tanzanian bands.