Celebrated Kikuyu benga musician Joseph Kamaru died on 4th October 2018 at the MP Shah Hospital in Nairobi where he had been admitted since Monday after he fell ill


Kamaru, a musician from the Central region of Kenya was born in the year 1939. He is the top Kikuyu musician, who during his career has managed to sell about half a million records.

kamaru was from Kangema, Muranga District.In 1957 he moved to Nairobi where he got a cleaning job.His first formal job was working as a house-help and a nanny, earning enough money to purchase his first guitar. He started pursuing music in 1965.


3 October 2018 (aged 79)


He is one of the most popular kikuyu singer with links with kenyatta family.


maru made his first breakthrough in 1967 with Celina. The height of his musical career was between 1975-1985 due the release of the adults-only cassettes, all dealing with Kikuyu folk songs. In the late 1980s he was the first Kenyan artist to play at the Carnivore Restaurant, then only hosting foreign artists. According to Martin Dunford, the owner of the restaurant, Kamaru’s vibrant performance opened doors for other Kenyan artist to perform at the venue.

His popular songs include “muhiki wa mikosi” and “muti uyu mukuona” among others.

Many of his songs were political, either praising or criticising the government. Initially he had a good relationships with president Jomo Kenyatta,  but after writing a song condemning the murder of Josiah Mwangi Kariuki in 1975 Kamaru fell out with him. After Kenyatta died, the next president Daniel arap Moi was close to the artist. In 1980 Kamaru toured Japan as a part of President Moi’s entourage.After the visit he composed Safari ya Japan praising the president.But Moi was not pleased with Kamaru’s support for multiparty democracy in the late 1980s.

Kamaru received significant support from Voice of Kenya radio presenter Job Isaac Mwamto, who embraced the rise of Kenyan music, by presenting Kamaru’s music to his radio stations. He was often called “Kenya’s Jim Reeves”.

He recorded nearly 2,000 songs addressing morality and offering life teachings.The songs launched his status as a Kikuyu music legend and impacted East Africans’ music scene with classic hits such as “Gathoni” and “Charia Ungi”.

In the 1990s, Kamaru announced that he had been “born again” and would no longer perform the secular music on which he had built his career.In 1993, he turned to gospel music and disbanded his previous group, the Kamaru Supersounds. The change saw a plunge in his record sales.

Kamaru was once the chairman of the Kenya Association of Phonographic Industries (KAPI), and owned a church ministry in Nairobi.He also ran two record stores in Nairobi.

Kamaru expressed interest to build a kikuyu cultural home in one of his many farms in Murang’a to safeguard and protect the Kikuyu culture, though this was not accomplished as he died in October 2018.


Kamaru cultivated a good relationship with the Kenyatta family and performed at the wedding receptions of the President’s nephew, Ngengi Muigai, and that of his son, Uhuru Kenyatta.

But the killing in 1975 of J.M. Kariuki, the flamboyant Nyandarua North MP, may have spelt the end of that relationship when Kamaru recorded a song condemning the murder.

“I heard that Mzee was unhappy and had made enquiries wanting to know what caused me to record the song at a time when all fingers were pointing to the President’s aides and cronies as the culprits,” he said.

The arrival of Daniel Arap Moi at State House in 1978 restored Kamaru’s connection with the country’s leaders.

He describes his relationship with Mr Moi as “very warm” in the early years of his government when he was a regular face at major presidential functions, mostly as a performer; but occasional social visits cemented their relationship.

In 1980, President Moi invited Kamaru to join his delegation on an official trip to Japan. On their return, the artiste composed Safari ya Japan in which he was full of praise for the Kenyan leader.


Joseph kimaru push for a return to multi-party democracy in Kenya was to change all that.

The trouble for Kamaru began in 1988 with the release of Mahoya ma Bururi (Prayers for the Nation) which looked at what lay ahead for the country.

Mr Moi was concerned about the content and called Kamaru to State House. On arrival at the President’s official residence, Kamaru met a politician from Central Kenya who had preceded him.

“He told me the President asked about the lyrics, and I explained that it was a prayer for the nation. He expressed satisfaction and asked me to do a Kiswahili translation and gave me Sh800,000 for the task,” Kamaru said.

The two agreed that Kamaru would return to see the President the following day with a copy of the Kiswahili version of the song.

When he arrived at State House the next day, Kamaru immediately sensed something was wrong. The usual warm reception at the gate was absent, and he was turned away.

“I never got to know the reason and was denied the access I had enjoyed to State House,” he said.

In 1992 he was engaged to perform at Madaraka Day celebrations. Ordinarily, artistes do not address political matters on such occasions, but Kamaru was different. He took the microphone and directly addressed the President.


can be downloaded from youtube in MP3 and video

joseph kamaru house, car, life history and wealth


joseph kamaru married two wife the late Rev Teresia Wanjiku Kamaru who died in September 2017 and Susan Wangari.

Here is the death and funeral announcement

It is with humble acceptance of God’s will that we announce the sudden demise of Rev Teresia Wanjiku Kamaru daughter to the late Stephen Maina and the late Monica Wangui and wife to Joseph Kamaru Macharia, mother to Samuel Macharia Kamaru and Stephen Maina Kamaru, mother in law to Jane Nyokabi and grandmother to Elaine Wanjiku Macharia and others, Step mother to Boniface Macharia, Ann wanjiru and the late Stephen Irungu.Co-wife to Susan Wangari.
Friends and relatives are meeting everyday for funeral arrangements at her home in Thome Garden estate and in town at the Norwich Union

joseph kamaru