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Kenya’s ‘King of Kikuyu’ Music John De’Mathew Passed Away

Kenyan musician John De’Mathew, real name John Ng’ang’a, was involved in a car accident yesterday in Thika, a town that is just outside the capital Nairobi. De’Mathew was allegedly returning from a harambee he had attended earlier on in support of fellow musician, Peter Kigia. The car in which De’Mathew was travelling, then collided with a lorry and the musician was later pronounced dead at the Thika Nursing Home, The Star reports. It is still unclear what the cause of the accident was.


De’Mathew, who was known for wearing a white cowboy hat as his signature look, produced more than 50 albums in his career which spanned three decades, according to the BBC. The musician was known for popularizing Benga, a genre of music where a guitar is set to a fast-paced rhyme. De’Mathew regularly sang in his native Kikuyu tongue, one of Kenya’s main languages.

Many fans have understandably expressed their sorrow and highlighted how Kenya has lost a music giant. They lauded De’Mathew for his music which they say addressed a myriad of social, economic and political issues. Referring to one of the musician’s songs, one fan said that, “Mbeú Njíthí was one great song addressing the alcoholism problem among the Kikuyu men (and especially young men).”

Other fans called De’Mathew a national “hero” who will also be remembered for the peace, love and unity that his music espoused.

Numerous tributes have been pouring in on social media since the tragic news of De’Mathew’s passing emerged.



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