Veteran musician Sammy Kasule dies in Amsterdam
The East African musical fraternity has been mourned over the death of veteran Ugandan musician Sammy Kasule.
The guitarist and songwriter died Tuesday night in Amsterdam, Holland.
A family source said Kasule was traveling to Stockholm from Kampala for treatment. He collapsed at Amsterdam Airport and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Speaking to the Daily Nation on Wednesday morning, Them Mushrooms group leader John Katana said he spoke with Kasule’s colleague Moses Matovu of the Afrigo Band, who confirmed Kasule was traveling to Sweden when tragedy struck.
Kasule’s Swedish counterpart, Dekula Kahanga, said the family of the deceased musician had started planning for the transport of his body from Amsterdam to Stockholm, where he would likely be buried, also being a Swedish citizen.
“Since 2014, when he moved to his ancestral home in Kampala, Kasule occasionally travels to Sweden for medical check-ups, as well as to team up with us,” Dekula said.
Kasule, the versatile guitarist and songwriter, who spent the first part of his musical career in Kenya in the 1970s, moved with his family to Sweden in 1985.
Following the news of his death, tributes were paid by other musicians, including the Kenyan Swedish artist Lioness Afreeka.
“Kasule has been an inspiration to many of us living in Europe,” Afreeka said in her message of condolence.
US-based Congolese musician Samba Mapangala praised Kasule for his prowess on guitar and vocals.
Mapangala revealed that he worked with Kasule on a song that was due to be featured on a new album.
“I received the news of Kasule’s death with great shock,” Mapangala said.
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In his heyday, Kasule was highly regarded by Kenyan, Tanzanian and Congolese musicians in Kenya’s then vibrant showbiz scene. Nairobi then hosted several leading groups from DR Congo and Tanzania.
Unknown to most of his fans, it was Kasule who played bass guitar in the black hit song Sikia Souce, which then enjoyed massive play on the radio.
Les Noirs was among the first multinational groups based in Mombasa starting in the 1960s, along with Mzee Chuza Kabaselleh, Kajos, Kuka Matthew Roje, among others.
The star of Kasule rose higher in Kenya in 1978, when he teamed up with Eliud Adonga, Shaban Onyango and Ali Magobeni to form the Somajeko International Band.
It was around this time that Kasule became popular for great Kiswahili songs such as Uzima and Marie Wandaka (which was dedicated to his Kenyan wife).
He was then a founding member of Makonde Band, another Nairobi-based multinational group under the leadership of Taso Stephanou, of Greek descent.
The group visited London in 1979, and upon their return to Kenya, Kasule would team up with Kenyan singer Zembi Okeno to release an English version of the famous hit song Shauri Yako, which was originally composed by Congolese legend Nguashi N ‘ timbo and its Festival Du Bande du Zaïre.
Kasule later composed another popular Swahili love ballad Kukupenda.