Leaders and fans of popular Kikuyu pop singer John Mwangi Ng’ang’a, popularly known as John DeMathew, have expressed shock and disbelief following the news of his death in a road crash Sunday evening.
At the same time, fellow musicians are yet to come to terms with the sad news.
DeMathew, who has been in the music industry for about 33 years, met his death on Sunday night after his car rammed into a lorry along the Thika-Kenol Road near Thika’s Blue Post Hotel.
He sustained head, legs and the chest injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival at Thika Nursing Home.
Following the sad news, leaders led by Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria have eulogised him as an “Agikuyu seer” and a talented artiste who used his music to warn, entertain and inform the Agikuyu community on various issues ranging from politics, love and the effects of drugs and substance abuse.
Governor Wa Iria, in his condolence message said his administration will partner with DeMathew’s family in funeral preparations.
He also urged musicians to uphold and continue supporting the Talented Musicians and Composers Sacco (Tamco) which DeMathew was the chairman until his death.
"They Agikuyu community has lost an artiste who guided them and warned them on various issues. He also exemplified leadership skills following his chairmanship of the Tamco Sacco which was formed in January this year.
"I urge artistes to support the sacco and take it to where Mr Ng’ang’a had envisaged. My administration will partner with them and his family in burial preparations," he said.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said he received the news about the artiste’s death with shock, saying he has been referring him to as a modern Kikuyu prophet.
“I have received with utter shock and deep sorrow the passing on of my friend, my brother and my comrade John DeMathew. John was not an artiste. I have always referred to him as a modern Kikuyu prophet – mũnabii – alongside the late Joseph Kamaru and Muigai Wa Njoroge,” Mr Kuria said.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said his constituency was hit below the belt following the sad news.
DeMathew hailed from Gatanga in Murang’a County.
"DeMathew had put our constituency on the world map due to his popularity in the music industry. He was among the pioneer Agikuyu musicians who, to some extent, dictated the political direction and it’s sad to have lost him through the tragic accident," he said.
DeMathew produced his first song titled Jenifer in December 1986. The following year he produced one of his greatest hits – My Dear Nduku.
Some of his other hit songs include Njata Yakwa, Kireke Tuturanie, Arume Kwi Na Mbu, Nengereria Kane, Meme Mene Tekeli, Mwihuguro and Pin Number among others.
In the Njata Yakwa album, DeMathew featured Murang’a Women Representative Sabina Chege in the poetic love song.
In an interview with Kameme TV in 2017, DeMathew said Ms Chege helped him rise in his music career. He insisted that the two were not in a love relationship.
At the time of his death, DeMathew was coming from a fundraiser in Thika town in aid of fellow Kikuyu musician Peter Kigia’s child’s medical bill.
Other musicians have sent their condolences following DeMathew’s death.
Epha Maina, a Kikuyu pop artiste, told the Nation that he spent the better part of Sunday evening together with DeMathew at the fundraiser in Thika.
Maina told the Nation that after the fundraiser, DeMathew was asked to sign some documents to begin the construction of a building at their newly bought land in Kenol but he did not and, instead, called for a meeting on Tuesday.
"I and some few musicians requested him to sign some documents to commence the construction of a building but he urged us to meet on Tuesday since it was late. I could not believe it when I received a call over his death," Maina, an official of the Tamco Sacco told the Nation.
The sacco bought a land in Kenol, Murang’a County where they plan to build a music recording studio and a talent centre.
The musicians came up with the idea to form the sacco after the death of another Kikuyu Benga maestro Joseph Kamaru where they had to do a fundraiser to help his family give him a decent send off.
During the launch of the sacco, DeMathew said they would pool resources together to ensure that they would no longer have to fundraise to cater for the medical bills or to give one of their own a decent send off.
"Never again shall we be conducting fundraisers to bury one of our own or to seek money for medical bills," DeMathew said.
Starehe MP and singer Charles Kanyi, popularly known as Jaguar in the music industry, said DeMathew mentored him as he took up singing.
"While growing up, I listened a lot to John DeMathew. His music inspired me greatly to become the musician I am today.
“I am deeply saddened by his untimely demise following a tragic road accident. May his soul rest well in eternal peace," the MP said.