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Kenya: Music Legend Juma Toto Takes Final Bow

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Veteran band leader, composer, guitarist and singer Laban Juma Toto is dead.

Toto will be fondly remembered by many older music lovers for a popular song ‘FC Gor Mahia’, which he composed in honour of the Kenyan soccer giants in the early 1970s.

MENTOR

Until his death at the age of 70 on Tuesday night at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the soft-spoken Toto, who mentored many into stardom, was the chairman of the Kenya Musicians Union (Kemu), an organisation bringing together both long-serving and up-and-coming artistes.

Speaking to the Nation, John Katana, the band leader of Them Mushrooms Band, said he was informed about Toto’s death Tuesday morning by a close relative of the singer.

“He died of suspected brain haemorrhage after he accidentally fell and injured his head last week,” Katana said.

Toto was in the class of a few surviving veteran musicians, who in the 1960s and into 1980s excelled with performances of popular dance beats at various hotels across the country.

His contemporaries include David Amunga, Shem Tube, John Nzenze, Fanuel Amimo and Peter Akhwabi.

For several decades a resident of Jericho Estate in Nairobi’s Eastlands, Toto — who also performed with the legendary Hodi Boys Band — had earlier performed with Gabriel Omollo, known for his chart-bursting song ‘Lunchtime’.

A cover version of the song was done by rapper Poxi Presha (deceased) who was backed by Congolese singer Padi Makani.

RESILIENCE

The Hodi Boys Band featured the legendary Saxophone player Geoffrey Ngao. Fadhili William of the Malaika hit song and Slim Ali also recorded songs with the band.