Music fraternity mourns late benga artiste Jimmy Wayuni

Thursday, May 28th, 2020 12:00 |
The late Kikuyu benga singer Jimmy Wayuni. Photo/PD/COURTESY

Njange Maina and Mathew Ndung’u

The late Jimmy Walter Githinji alias Jimmy Wayuni died an astute figure in the rich Kikuyu music world.

He was not your ordinary singer, the kind that rents an old studio at Nairobi’s downtown backstreets.

Wayuni was a smart businessman, a former tax colector who rose to the rank of an assistant commissioner at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and a Kikuyu benga artiste par excellence who toured the world for his music and career.

He met his death on Tuesday evening at Kahawa Sukari on Thika Superhighway, as he escorted his friend Jacksom Kibandi (also an artiste) in his Toyota Raum car.

Reports indicated that the car crashed against a lorry as he exited the highway.

Kibandi survived the accident but Wayuni was pronounced dead a few moments later at the St Joseph's Hospital.

His body was transferred to Kenyatta University Funeral Home where the postmortem report was not out by the time of going to press.

Humble beginnings

The musician was born and bred in Kiamwangi, Gatundu South in Kiambu county. He started his career in music at a tender age of 10.

In his early days, he was an active member in the church choir and school drama festivals.

In an earlier interview with a local daily, Wayuni said he was inspired by legendary Kikuyu artistes such as the late Joseph Kamaru, Councillor Daniel Kamau (DK) and James Wahome Maingi.

He recorded his first song Kairitu Roiko in 1978 with Kuhurika Brothers Band, but the single was not a major hit.

In his illustrious music career—which he one time described as ‘old as himself’— Wayuni mentored many aspiring musicians.

His legacy is written in the success of many Kikuyu secular artistes, actors, and other players in the entertainment industry.

His wife Rosemary Wambui, 37, told People Daily the singer was in a jovial mood when he left their home Tuesday morning.

“My husband was very jovial at the time when I left home for work. I left him at home happy and he seemed not disturbedby anything,” said Wambui.

After making unanswered frantic calls, Wambui said Wayuni’s phone went off  leaving her even more worried.

She only came to know of his death through a friend. She eulogised him as being “very loving, caring and supportive to the family.”

Revered icon

Many people described him as a down-to-earth person who could do anything to see someone succeed.

Kameme FM presenter and recording artiste Muthoni Wainaina aka Mzima Mzima described Wayuni as a mentor and a father figure in her music career success.

“Wayuni uplifted most of us Kikuyu secular musicians,” said Mzima.

Shortly before his death, Wayuni had revealed to Mzima his plans to protect and preserve the Kikuyu entertainment industry. 

“Just yesterday (Tuesday), he hinted to me how he wanted to start a kind of an archive for players in the Kikuyu entertainment industry. We were to discuss today (Wednesday) how to promote the idea and see how many artistes would benefit from it,” said Mzima.

Inooro FM presenter Jeff Kuria said the Kikuyu entertainment industry would not have been the way it were, was it not for Wayuni’s efforts.

As indeed true to his revelations, Wayuni set up a music shop at Ruiru along the Eastern Bypass in 2014.

 His was not just a shop, but he wanted to use the establishment to lobby for partnerships with giant entities in the global entertainment such as Warner Bros, Miramax, Sony Entertainment.

In 2007, he attended a month-long workshop at Disney’s MGM Studios in Florida, USA.

He pursued the dream until he met his death. Unfortunately, he passed too early to see the dream come to full reality. 

Hit-filled discography

Airitu a Ruiru, which loosely translates to Ruiru Girls, remains one of Wayuni’s hit songs. In the song he describes the women from Ruiru in Kiambu county and warns men against them.

He earlier said the song was a work of an artiste to shame a bad habit of women extorting money from men. Having married at 41, perhaps his encounter with women had not been a smooth sail.

His other songs include Nindakunyita, Muti Utari Maciaro, Anisa, Mama Sululu and Utuire Uhenagia.

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