Home » Prominent Luhyas » Freedom Fighters, Shujaas and Modern Day Luhya Heroes » Farewell Omupeni Namatete, Bukusu folk music maestro
poster eulogizing Bukusu folk musician Samuel Namatete

Farewell Omupeni Namatete, Bukusu folk music maestro

Re-known Bungoma based entertainer Omwami Samuel Namatete has died. Best known for his hits sekali nomulala, khusimane, endika yange and ocha ekombe. News of his sudden death aged 47 on the morning of 2nd March 2020 filtered in on social media. He is said to have collapsed a few days ago en-route from a Nairobi trip; was rushed to an Eldoret based hospital, hospitalized overnight, was discharged thereafter before being readmitted in Bungoma. He breathed his last shortly after readmission. He will be missed. May his soul rest in peace.

Born to Baechalo clan on 21st March 1973 in Sirisia, Malakisi-Kulisiru ward, the public came to know Namatete as a patient, kind and mild-mannered folk musician and social commentator; who always seemed to wear the spirit of mulembe thanks to his gentle spirit. Samuel was known for his thoughtful, often humorous, music which he loved to bring to life with little aplomb with his handy three man band the Namatete Band.

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Patrons of Highway Bar and Restaurant – a cultural icon in Bungoma’s budding urban culture and one of the best places to enjoy engokho in Kanduyi – will particularly miss these impromptu performances. More than his expertise strumming the litungu into perfect harmony with the singular siilili and 20 liter plastic jerrycan, his almost constant presence most evenings at Highway’s patio, decked in a kitenge shirt and engrossed in casual têteàtêtes will be most missed.

Namatete the soical commentator

A trained teacher, Namatete had a passion for teaching. He also loved to write songs, and he combined his two favorite hobbies to create extraordinary art. Even as an entertainer, omupeni, Samuel never shied from controversy in his art. More recently, in a jibe at current political leadership of Bungoma county, he released a song “khufwela is better than to save.” This song is rumored to have elicited death threats against him.

Samuel Namatete, in kitenge shirt and dark sun glasses, with President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past event. Image Facebook.

Nonetheless, beyond his much loved honest lyrics on governance, social and human rights, life and its fullness was another of his favorite topics. For that side of Nametete we remain with the hit songs Siauma and Raha to dance to.

Go well omupeni Namatete, dance with the angels. Pass on our regards to your village mates Wasike wa Musungu and Isaac Kisache wa Mwasame. Sing on. Sing on omwami.

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