Veteran MC and soldier releases a patriotic tune

Saturday October 7 2017

Khamis Ali Jenje’s song 'Amani Idumu Kwetu'

Khamis Ali Jenje’s song 'Amani Idumu Kwetu' urges peace to Kenyan citizens. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AMOS NGAIRA
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As the national political temperature continues to rise in the run-up to the presidential election rerun, musicians are not just sitting back and watching the protagonists and their supporters taking the battle to one another.

Their creative juices have been flowing with new songs being composed to either cheer them on or to help cool them down.

Making a difference on the politically-charged electoral scene is veteran solo musician and soldier Khamis Ali Jenje, who doubles as a master of ceremonies during state functions. He has lately been popularising his patriotic song, Amani Idumu Kwetu,  which he penned to inspire patriotism.

Jenje, who released the song backed by some members of the Lang’ata-based  Maroon Commandos Band, has been in the forefront in challenging fellow Kenyans to always put their country first.

Speaking to the Saturday Nation recently, Jenje said that as  a soldier he was encouraged to preach peace and cohension through music ..“As a peace loving citizen and member of the disciplined forces, I have found it necessary to take up a front-line role in composing songs to enhance peace, love  and unity ,” the Kenya Defence Forces corporal said. 

For Jenje, one of his long-term dreams has been to forge harmony in the country, and especially between the ordinary citizens and musicians.

During state functions, Jenje alternates with Gibson Mwandawiro, a Warrant Officer II, as the MC, especially  when introducing and explaining the military ranks of the officers during march-pasts and other parades.

Jenje, who is marking 30 years in music, made his debut with the Blue Rangers Band in 1987.

The military outfit was then based at the Gilgil Barracks. It was during his stint with the group that he performed alongside fellow talented musicians such as Ngando and Omar.

The group regularly performed in Nakuru, Gilgil and other neighbouring  towns.

“It was during those times that we were able to gauge the taste of the various music fans,” Jenje said.

But his real breakthrough came in the  late 1990s, when he briefly joined Maroon Commandos under band leader Habel Kifoto of the Charonyi ni Wasi hit song fame.

He would later move to Ulinzi Orchestre, yet another military band, that featured, among others, Laban Ochuka (deceased),  Ken Makokha, Peter Lushango (also deceased), Manchin Kesa and Juvenilas Otukia.

Ochuka, also formerly with Maroon Commandos, excelled then as a bassist, vocalist and composer.

During live  shows with the Ulinzi Band, Jenje  excelled at doing cover versions of popular Congolese rumba songs.

Since the late 1990s, Jenje has been alternating in performances between Ulinzi and Maroon Commandos. Besides Habel Kifoto, Maroon Commandos featured veterans Tuesday Oguru, David Kombo and Riziki.

For rumba  and  Swahili music Iovers in  Nairobi, Maroon Commandos alternated their performances between at Simmers Restaurant and Ranalo Foods (Kosewe) in downtown Nairobi.

He has been known to do cover cover versions  of most legendsry Conglese greats.

Jenje was been one of the lead vocalists in the Maroonbad alongside Diwani Dzaro.