Hundreds gather to pay last respect to Mugithi King Salim Junior

Musicians carry their guitars high near the casket with the remains of renown Kikuyu Musician Late Paul Mwangi aka Salim Junior in Subukia, Nakuru (PHOTO:BONIFACE THUKU)

Nakuru, Kenya: Thousands of music fans turned up to give their last respect to celebrated Mugithi King Paul Mwangi alias Salim Junior who was laid to rest yesterday in Subukia.

Ordinary Kenyans, politicians and celebrities graced the ceremony and paid tribute to a musician who revolutionized Kikuyu music through his renditions of both secular and gospel music of yester years.

The sleepy Subukia Trading center came to life as the convoy bearing the remains of the 40 year old snaked its way into Subukia Market park for the funeral service.

His coffin with four guitars lay on the corners lay at the centre of field as thousands of music fans braved the scorching sun to pay a homage to man who transformed the Kikuyu music.

Popular Kikuyu gospel singer Muigai Wa Njoroge said Salim had managed to bring memories of past Kikuyu musicians including the late Francis Rugwiti after redoing their songs in captivating beats.

"It was through his man guitar that songs from past musicians acquired new popularity and that is why we are celebrating his life," Njoroge said.

Salim versions of old Kikuyu songs of Joseph Kamaru and the late John Ndichu of the Cucu Wa Gakunga fame endeared him to the youthful audience which found his one man guitar style catchy and attractive.

The celebrated musician started honing his music skills at the tender age of four which never impressed his mother Eunice Wangari Salim .

His performance in Nakuru, Elburgon, Molo and the surrounding towns captured the attention of the late Sammy Muraya and afterwards Salim found his way to Nairobi without the knowledge of his parents.

Under the mentorship of the late Kikuyu song bird Queen Jane he sharpened his skills which saw him leave for Mombasa where he performed at Carlos Restaurant and the rest as they say is history.

Salim Junior comes from a family of musicians who include his father Joe Salim Mwnagu and his brother Anthony Njuguna aka Mighy Salim is a household name in the Mugithi circles.

His father recalled how young Salim would hide his favourite music cassettes to prevent him from selling the tapes at his studio in Molo which was later burnt during the infamous tribal clashes.

Curtains fell on the Mugithi star on January 23 after being rushed to Nakuru War Memoria Hospital after developing chest complications.

Piracy and exploitation of musicians by politicians and corporate bodies dominated the funeral as tens of artistes vowed to unite and fight for their rights.

Some of the musicians who attended the burial included John Demathew, Simon Kihara lias Musaimo, Epha Maina, Gachathi Wa Thuo, Wakabura Joseph , Peter Kigia, Muraya Juniour, Muraya Wa Tutu and Simon Ben.

President Uhuru Kenyatta eulogized Salim Junior as a talented musician who entertained thousands through his one man guitar songs in his message read by Subukia MP Nelson Gaichuhie . Uhuru also sent a donation of Sh 500,000 to assist the family of the deceased whop left behind a wife and three children.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega said Salim Junior was one of his favorite artistes and he could not resist the temptation to dance to his tunes especially while he was at the University.

"He was the person who composed the first campaign song for me and at University I would always dance to his music like his many other fans," said the MP

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria also said he was a big fan of the late musician and would rarely miss any of his shows due to his unique way of belting out the songs.

Local musicians who addressed the mourners said death of Salim would serve as a wake up call to musicians on why they should join hands to fight piracy and exploitation by some communication companies which were using selling their tunes and giving them a pittance.

They said they would no longer allow politicians to use them during the campaign period and later dump them after they get into office.

"We are tired of being used by politicians to drum up support for them during the electioneering period only to be forgotten once the elections are over. What are they doing to address the plight of suffering musicians," said Njoroge.

Official of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya(MCSK) led by their chairman Benard Mukhaisi had a a hard time addressing the music fans as the society was accuse of doing little to save locakl artistes from exploitation.

"Whenever musicians die they are glorified but after they are buried their families are left to suffer with no financial support. We are going to ensure that local musicians are no longer exploited, " Demathew said.

Taking up the challenge from the artistes the MPs led by Kega said they will be tabling a Bill in parliament aimed at addressing the plight of local musicians and protecting them from exploitation.

"We will mobilize MPs to support the Bill and any MP who fails to join hands with us in coming with the necessary legislation should be voted out," said Kega.