Astounding mentorship skills: DeMathew, the prolific mentor
Elly Gitau and Wangari Njuguna
John Mwangi Ng’ang’a better known as John DeMathew was more than just music. He influenced many young people to pursue their talents in art, especially music.
He will be remembered as one of the best benga artistes, with his songs receiving massive support across his fan base. Until his demise, the singer had released more than 50 albums.
Scholar Kanyi Thiong’o based his Masters of Art thesis in literature on DeMathew songs. The singer’s ability to blend in message and humour in his songs was hailed by many.
A few months ago, DeMathew was elected chairman of the Talented Musicians and Composers (Tamco) Sacco, which aims at uplifting the welfare of Kenyan artistes.
Moments before his death, he urged up-and-coming artistes to observe humility and uphold unity and good relations with others, so that they could learn more, especially from seasoned musicians.
Following the untimely passing on of the Njata Yakwa hit singer, contemporary urban singer and Starehe MP Charles Kanyi alias Jaguar felt robbed of a great mentor.
“Death has not only robbed us a great musician but also a legend. John DeMathew was my mentor when I joined the music industry at my tender age despite us doing different genres of music. His music and performances displayed a great array of diversity. As a member of the music fraternity we are at a great loss. My deepest condolences to his family and friends,” said Jaguar.
Singer Gachathi Wa Thuo, a close friend to the deceased, said he was still in shock over the death. He said the gap left behind by DeMatthew would be hard to fill.
“He was a friend and a mentor to many. He helped many up-and-coming musicians to excel,” said Thuo.
Legendary musician and producer Julius Kang’ethe aka Bylaw termed DeMathew’s death a big blow to Kikuyu music.
“As a musician, composer and producer, I am so saddened by the passing on of a colleague and a friend in the music industry. I have worked with the late John DeMathew for more than 30 years. We have assisted one another during recording sessions and performances.
I regarded John as a great artiste who cared for the welfare of the community and the country at large as his songs reflects. I urge the youthful artistes to emulate the late John in his insightfulness, patriotism and pragmatism,” said Bylaw.
CDM Kiratu, another veteran Kikuyu artiste couldn’t come to terms with DeMathew’s death. He said Kenya and the music fraternity at large had lost a musician of great calibre.
“DeMathew was a gifted musician; a gifted composer. He ensured the Gikuyu benga continued to thrive. It is indeed a great loss,” Kiratu told People Daily.
DeMathew’s death, especially coming barely a year after the passion on of another legendary Kikuyu musician Joseph Kamaru, is a great loss to Kikuyu’s music heritage. A widely held opinion was that DeMathew was the second most popular Kikuyu musician after the late Joseph Kamaru, who passed on in October last year.