Kenya: Mourning Three Music Megastars

Three diehard fans of Congolese soukous legend Aurlus Mabele are devastated by the news of his death in Paris on Friday last week.

This has been a harrowing week for music fans, with the demise of American country music legend Kenny Rogers and Cameroonian Afro-jazz maestro Manu Dibango.

Betty Mabele Makhombe of Kitale, Sammy Wamuri (Ya Kembo) and Catherine Karanja are among fans in grief.

Despite scanty details on the funeral arrangements for Aurlus Mabele, speculation was rife that he might be laid to rest in Paris.

Speaking to the Nation on Wednesday, Paris-based veteran Congolese musician Nyboma Mwandido said arrangements for the funeral were progressing. Singer Mav Cacharel, a former Loketo band member, is playing a pivotal role.

"We are still awaiting details from his former band members and his daughter, who lives in Paris," Nyboma said.

Speaking to the Saturday Nation earlier this week, ace solo guitarist Dally Kimoko was sad to have lost a close confidant.

"We recorded many of his popular songs together," he said. Dally replaced mercurial guitarist Diblo Dibala, who left the band in 1990 to form his Orch Matchacha.

Kenyan fan Betty remembers how Aurlus signed for her a special autographed note on his tour of Kenya on October 10, 1993.

"Ever since news of his death broke, I have not been at peace. I'm holding on to the autograph," she said. She was particularly fond of the song "Betty", which she says made her friends think it was her that Aurlus was singing about.

Another adoring Aurlus Mabele fan, Sammy Ya Kembo, was devastated when he heard of Aurlus's death.

"I have always cherished Aurlus's music alongside his Loketo group," he said.

Sammy attended all the shows by Aurlus and the Loketo Band Kenya in the early 1990s.

For Catherine Karanja, Aurlus' music, which she has been playing since the news of his death broke, will cement a link with the departed band leader, composer, singer and flamboyant dancer.

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