UGANDAN VETERAN MUSICIAN SAMMY KASULE LEAVES BEHIND A LEGACY

BY Lenny Kabunga

Veteran Ugandan musician Sammy Kasule, who made a name in Kenya in the 70s, 80s and  made a comeback to the entertainment scene when he returned to Uganda from his base in Sweden in 2015 has died .

His Ugandan and  Kenyan fans will remember Kasule’s melodious voice and his distinctive bass guitar on songs such as “Riziki,” “Uzima,” and “Marie Wandaka”. The still popular “Marie Wandaka” song was dedicated to his Kenyan-born wife. Marie and his children have been living with him in Stockholm.

Kasule was highly regarded by Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Congolese musicians in the then vibrant showbiz days. When he arrived in Kenya in 1973, his first stop was Mombasa, where he joined Les Noirs Band, known for the hit song “Tchiku”. Kasule played the bass guitar on another Les Noirs hit song, “Sikia Souce”, which enjoyed massive play on radio then.

In 1978, Kasule was in the forefront during the formation of the Somajeko International Band alongside Eliud Adonga, Shaban Onyango, Ali Magobeni and Festus Okonda. Later, Kasule and others formed the Makonda Band in Nairobi, led by Greece-born Taso Stephanou. The Afro-fusion group is famous for songs such as “Mola”, “Soseme”, and “Asante”. In 1979 they toured London and performed wih Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango.

Back in Kenya from London, Kasule teamed up with Kenyan singer Zembi Okeno to release an English version of “Shauri Yako”, the hit song originally performed by Congolese legend Nguashi N’timbo and Festival Du Zaire Band. Later, Kasule penned another Swahili love ballad “Kukupenda”. When Somajeko suffered a split, Kasule teamed up with Ali Magobeni, Vincent Otieno and Shaban Onyango to form the Jambo Talents Band. 

Kasule’s biggest breakthrough came in  1985 when he co-founded Orch. Vundumuna Band, which was based at Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi. 

Back in Uganda, Sammy, together with Frank Mbalire and JC Ssentamu formed Ziwuuna Band in 2015, all veteran Ugandan musicians with a career in entertainment dating as far back as the 1960s.

The band, specializing in Rumba, Soukous, Salsa, and Jazz music, has been performing for a growing audience of senior citizens in Kampala under the umbrella Ziwuuna Seniors Club Ltd at various venues, including Maama Ashanti in Nakasero, Zone 7 Bar and Restaurant in Bugolobi, Las Vegas Garden Hotel in Bunga, and Fusion Auto Spa in Gaba. Sammy passed away last evening in a hospital in Amsterdam while on his way to Sweden where he was returning for further medical care. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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