Veteran rhumba musician Juma Toto, the man who gave Gor Mahia football club its anthem, FC Gor Mahia, is dead.
Juma underwent a head surgery at Kenyatta National Hospital after falling and hitting his head on the pavement near his home in Jerusalem Estate, Nairobi, last week.
His family said said the veteran musician did not make it out of Kenyatta National Hospital’s ICU after the surgery. He died on Tuesday night.
According to close family members, the musician was walking home after an evening out with friends when the accident happened.
Fellow artistes described Juma’s death as a big blow to the Kenyan music scene, saying he not only came from an experienced pre-independence generation of musicians, but was also still active in the art.
Before his death, Juma had a solo piano performance at the Panari Hotel.
He was also the chairman of the Kenya Music Association and is credited with the formation of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya to fight for the rights of musicians and artistes in the country.
But the rhumba maestro from Gem, Siaya will be best remembered for his hit song, FC Gor Mahia that has been the football club’s anthem since 1970.
The song received massive airplay on the then Voice of Kenya radio before making its way to every soccer stadium where Gor played, from where it has been reverberating for four decades now.
In the song, Juma showers praises on the legendary Gor Mahia K’Ogallo as an indomitable football club that not only wins the national premier league consistently, but also brought fame to the country.
He goes on to single out individual players for praise.
“He made us proud by this song. We will miss him greatly,” said Gor Mahia FC chairman, Omollo Rachier who sent his condolences to Juma’s family and friends.
“The K’Ogallo nation have lost a soldier. Many people composed songs on Gor Mahia but this was the only hit,” said Lawrence Lorenzo, founder member of Gor Mahia Facebook branch.
Before this, Juma had worked with Gabriel Omollo, another Rumba legend of the Blue Shades Band. The group went ahead to release the hit song, Lunch Time that won the Golden Disk Award in 1976 for selling 150,000 records.
“He was a great man, good singer and a cultured man who together with Ochieng’ Kabaselleh established the foundation of Rumba music that been taken up by many modern-day musicians,” said veteran music producer, Tabu Osusa.
Osusa produced some of Juma’s best songs including Sele, Orudo and Jaber Rossy in the album collection called Nyako Ma Ok Osomo.
Juma came to Nairobi in 1966 to start a national music career. He had to quickly learn how to compose his music in Kiswahili since he had been used to singing in Dholuo.
In 1968, he joined Hodi Boys Band, the group that recorded Fadhili William’s classic, Malaika, performing with such artistes as Henry Mbogo, Geoffrey Ngao, Edward Nginyo, and Nicholas Ndung’u.
Juma is credited with mentoring musician Okello Jose currently doing his trade in Australia.
Okello left Juma to work with the band, Orchestra Les Kinois, of Samba Mapangala and thereafter moved to Orchestre Super Mazembe of Longwa Didos and the Ivory Band.
Relatives and friends described him as strict but loving and one of greatest Rhumba musician in Kenya.
“He made me love rumba music because that’s the music that played in our house. The disciplined girl I am today is courtesy of him- he was a no-nonsense uncle; but one that I loved dearly,” said his niece, Dorcas Odumbe.
Juma is survived by a wife, son and daughter.