Eliud Nyongesa wa Muganda was born to Muganda wa Kwasaba in 1946 in Karima, Naitiri Scheme. He belonged to the Abamakangala clan of the Kabarasi sub-tribe. His mother was from the Basenya clan of the Banyala sub-tribe of the Luhya people of Western Province. He was circumcised in 1962 and belonged to the Bamaina age set. His father, Mukanda wa Kwasaba, was both a vocalist and a guitarist while his grandmother, Sitawa Kwasaba from the Abangachi Clan, was a renowned singer of circumcision songs. Legend had it that she would be hired for weeks to sing in the neighbouring Kabras and would come back with loads of gifts as an appreciation for her prowess as a singer. According to Nyongesa’s widow, Anne Nyongesa, he inherited his talent from both his grandmother and father.
Nyongesa’s siblings included Rajabu Mafunga, Kilon’gi, Namalwa and Nasimiyu and Iswa, Wangwe, Naliaka, Alfayo and Shadrack from the wife his father married after Nyongesa’s mother died. He was married to Anne Nyongesa from the clan of Babulo and together, they had seven children: Dickson Mukanda, Evans Rupia, Catherine Nyongesa (deceased), Augustine Nyongesa (deceased), Josephine, Gertrude and James.
Nyongesa started his music career with Webuye Young Stars under the leadership of Nico Standa. When he realized that what Nico was paying him was not commensurate to his efforts, he decided to form his own band, Naitiri Jazz Band, around 1985. He recruited a young Hudson Maloba and taught him how to sing. He initially hired guitarists to play the bass and rhythm guitars as he played the lead. Later, he recruited Barasa Manguya as a guitarist to his team. Patrick Wasai also joined as a composer and song editor. When he began writing songs in Kiswahili, he drafted Maurice Wesa from Emusire, Bunyore, to help in ensuring that the songs were well-written.
Nyongesa’s experience with producers left him a poor man for many years despite being a celebrated musician among the Bukusu of Bungoma. In fact, he had to work as a watchman at night and a musician during the day to make ends meet. He initially recorded with Reuben Khaemba Wanami and Nyokha Records before settling on Joe Mwangi. It was only after he teamed up with Mwangi that he began getting some good money from the sale of his music.
He mainly sang in Lubukusu despite being an Omukabarasi because he was born and raised in Bukusuland. He also sang some of his songs in Lukabarasi and, in the later years of his career and life, in Kiswahili. Upon his death, Joe Mwangi returned all the music and rights to his widow, Anne Nyongesa. She still lives in Nairobi, Kawangware, where her late husband left her. She and her children have to do menial jobs to put food on the table.
His songs included:
- Dina Kakosa
- Maisha ya Mjini
- Beatrice (Simakombe)
- Papa-a dedication to his father, who died in 1969.
- Agnes Namalwa
- Ndireba Nanu
- Bakhana ba Lelo (Rosemary Nekesa)
- Simala bandu (Simeon Wamalwa Lufwalula)
- Khole ya Papa
- Khwakenda Enavakholo
- Janerose and many others.
Nyongesa Muganda developed chest complications and doctors said it was some form of a cancerous growth. According to the doctors who diagnosed his ailment, this is what killed him. However, the family still believes that he was poisoned by members of his own Naitiri Jazz Band. He was buried in Bikeke, Kitale, where he bought a tenth of an acre upon realizing that he would not survive the disease he was suffering from. This was after his siblings sold his inherited piece of land in Karima.
Well-wishers can reach her widow on 0727129414.
Article by : Amos Juma wanda
Amos Juma Wanda. Born in Kitale. is a teacher of literature, football coach and a writer who’s very enthusiastic about literature, linguistics and the anthropology of Kenyan tribes, their oral literature included.
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