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Kamaru: From a houseboy to top Kikuyu music icon





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Celebrated musician Joseph Kamaru, who died on Wednesday evening at the MP Hospital in Nairobi, will be fondly remembered by many for not only his artistic prowess, but also his rich lyrics in the Gĩkũyũ language, capturing various themes ranging from political, cultural, social, and love ballads, to songs anchored on human interest.

To many other musicians from central Kenya, Kamaru was the undisputed father figure, having inspired most of them into an exciting career.

He held them by the band with recordings and productions of their songs at his studio in Nairobi.

Joseph Kamaru

Mr Kamaru (holding a guitar) hands over a donation to Mr Mwai Kibaki during a past function. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

One of the cornerstones of his illustrious musical career was his reworking of Kikuyu folk songs, some of which had been dominant as a form of defiance during the Mau Mau uprising from the early 1950s.

He later reworked some of the tracks into various versions like the adult only songs.

Kamaru who died at 79, had a career dating back to 1957, when he moved from his native Kangema in Murang’a to the capital, Nairobi, in search of greener pastures.

He first worked as a houseboy, but once he launched himself into music, there was no turning back.

His distinct dressing style saw him don American cowboy straw hats and high boots which saw him fondly referred by some of his adoring fans as “the Kenyan Don Williams or Jim Reeves”.

Speaking to the Daily Nation Thursday, family spokesman Peter Irungu said Kamaru had succumbed to a long ailment, which started as a back problem.

The family has moved his body moved from MP Shah Hospital to the Kenyatta University mortuary as funeral plans continue.

“The family members are still in the preliminary consultations on the funeral arrangements,” he said.

Besides his home in Thome estate on Nairobi’s north-western outskirts, the veteran singer also had land in Kaharati in Murang’a County and his ancestral home in Kangema.

Mr Irungu will be remembered by those who keenly followed Kamaru’s career as one of the organisers of a musical comeback concert dubbed “Kamaru @70” that was held in 2009 at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi.

It was also at the Carnivore where Kamaru was at the forefront in staging shows by Kenyan groups, the venue having earlier been dominated by visiting top musicians, including Congolese superstars.

Kamaru would later in the 1990s make a big switch from secular to gospel music.

Earlier this year, Kamaru was hospitalised amid speculation about his deteriorating health.

He had then kept a low profile as recuperated at his residence in Nairobi.

Veteran singer Daniel Kamau (DK), also a leading musician from central Kenya, Thursday eulogised Kamaru as the person who inspired him into the music recording business.

“When I first came to Nairobi, it was Kamaru who inspired me into recording and producing my music and we will remember him for the inspiration he gave us in the music industry,” he said.


As for Peter Kigia, also a leading musician from central Kenya, Kamaru will be remembered for his boldness in his lyrics.

“Many of us got inspired into music production by Kamaru,” Kigia said.

Other leading artistes from central Kenya who interacted with Kamaru during his long career included James Wahome Maingi, CDM Kiratu, Albert Gacheru and the late Mwalimu James Mbugua.

Kamaru sings at Laare grounds Meru

Kamaru sings at Laare grounds in Igembe North in Meru County during a Jubilee campaign rally on July 19, 2017. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

From Kangema, Kamaru inspired, among others, the late Queen Jane and Simon Kihara (Musaimo), into live and recording performances.

Kamaru’s illustrious musical career was never short of controversies.

The lyrics of his songs at times rubbed some of those in power the wrong way.

For instance, the ever-popular Muhiki wa Mikosi was a social commentary about a woman who was considered jinxed with ill luck to the extent that anyone having an affair with her would find himself in a trouble.

Other popular songs by include Nuu Ucio, Wendo wa Cebe Cebe and Charia Ungi.

An older photo of Joseph Kamaru

An older photo of Joseph Kamaru. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


His colourful musical career saw him interact with the founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and also retired President Daniel arap Moi.

His closeness to Mr Moi saw him accompany him on an official visit to Japan in 1980 after which Kamaru composed probably his first major song in Kiswahili “Safari ya Japan”.

Kamaru also performed during the wedding reception of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his wife Margaret Kenyatta in 1990.

One of the most exciting events in Kamaru’s career was in 1991, when performed alongside visiting Congolese musician Kanda Bongoman at the Nyayo National Stadium.

The organisers of the show had packaged it as contest between the two and this paid off as the stadium overflowed with enthusiastic fans.

It was a great honour for Kamau to share the glory with dancing and singing star Kanda, whose performances on the Urtna exchange programme Kenyans loved.


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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard




Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.


However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard




President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health




Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.


Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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