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Taarab maestro Bhalo succumbs to long illness

By PHILIP MWAKIO | April 7th 2014


Mombasa, Kenya: The king of Taarab music, Mohamed Khamis Juma Balo, is dead.

He died in his house in Mombasa’s Old Town on Saturday night after ailing for long.

Bhalo who practised Taarab for over five decades announced his retirement from active music in 2007.

He won the hearts of many through his melodious voice with most of his compositions being about love, lifestyle and misfortunes.

Prayers for Bhalo were held yesterday at the Majid Noor Mosque in Bondeni before his body was interred at the Kikowani Muslim Cemetery.

His funeral was attended by hundreds of Mombasa residents, including senior Government officials and politicians.

Newly appointed Director General of the National Museums of Kenya Dr Yasin Ahmed eulogised the deceased and termed him as an icon who played a critical role in the advancement of Kiswahili.

“Bhalo who was blessed with a golden voice used to sing in Kimvita and Kiamu, two of the dying Swahili dialects, thus helping to preserve and enhance Swahili language,” said Dr Yasin.

A historian at the coast and a relative to the deceased, Abdilahi Nassir Stambuli, said that Kenya and the family had lost a true patriot who was not only an entertainer, but a popular household name in a majority of Swahili settlements.

He has left behind several children, among them Anwar Bhalo who is based in London and goes by the stage name Kijana cha Bhalo, an active musician following in his late father’s footsteps.

Lamu East MP Shariff Athman and former Mombasa Mayor Abdulatif Ubwa were among those present.


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