Veteran Ugandan musician Sammy Kasule dies in Amsterdam

Thursday April 29 2021
Sammy Kasule

Ugandan musician Sammy Kasule who died on April 27, 2021 in Amsterdam, Holland. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By Amos Ngaira

East African music fraternity has been plunged into mourning following the death of veteran Ugandan musician Sammy Kasule.

The mercurial guitarist and composer died on Tuesday evening in Amsterdam, Holland.

According to a family source, Kasule was travelling to Stockholm from Kampala to seek medical treatment. He collapsed at the airport in Amsterdam and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. 

Speaking to the Daily Nation on Wednesday morning Them Mushrooms band leader John Katana said he had spoken to Kasule’s colleague, Moses Matovu, of the Afrigo Band who confirmed that Kasule was travelling to Sweden when tragedy struck.

John Katana

Them Mushrooms band leader John Katana.

Kasule's Sweden-based counterpart, Dekula Kahanga, said the family of the deceased musician has started planning to have his body flown from Amsterdam to Stockholm, where he is likely to be buried being a Swedish citizen.


“Since 2014, when he relocated to his ancestral home in Kampala, Kasule has occasionally been travelling to Sweden for medical check-ups as well as teaming up with us,“ Dekula said.

Dekula Kahanga

Sweden-based musician, Dekula Kahanga, who was Sammy Kasule's counterpart.

Kasule, the versatile guitarist and composer, who spent the early part of his musical career in Kenya in the 1970s, moved with his family to Sweden in 1985.

Following the announcement of his death, tributes have been flowing from fellow musicians, including from Sweden-based Kenyan artiste Lioness Afreeka.

“Kasule was an inspiration to many of us living in Europe,“ Afreeka said in her message of condolences.

Veteran US-based Congolese musician Samba Mapangala eulogised Kasule for his guitar and vocals prowess.

Samba Mapangala

US-based Congolese musician Samba Mapangala of Orchestra Virunga.

Mapangala revealed that he had been working with Kasule on a song that was to feature in new album.

"I received the news of Kasule's death with great shock," Mapangala said.

During his heyday, Kasule was highly regarded by Kenyan, Tanzanian and Congolese musicians in the then vibrant showbiz scene in Kenya. Nairobi then hosted several top bands from the DR Congo and Tanzania.

Unknown to most of his fans, it was Kasule who played the bass guitar in Les Noirs' hit song Sikia Souce, which enjoyed massive play on radio back then.

Les Noirs was among the first multinational bands to be based in Mombasa from the 1960s, featuring  Mzee Chuza Kabaselleh, Kajos, Kuka Matthew Roje among others.

Kasule’s star rose higher in Kenya in 1978, when he teamed up with Eliud Adonga, Shaban Onyango and Ali Magobeni to form Somajeko International Band.

That was the time when Kasule became popular for big Kiswahili songs such as Uzima and Marie Wandaka (which was dedicated to his Kenyan wife).

He was later among the founding members of Makonde Band, another multinational group that was based in Nairobi under the leadership of Greece-born Taso Stephanou.

The group toured London in 1979 and on returning to Kenya, Kasule would teamed up with Kenyan singer Zembi Okeno to release an English version of the famous Shauri Yako hit song, which was originally composed by Congolese legend Nguashi N’timbo and his Festival Du Zaire Band.

Kasule later composed another popular Swahili love ballad Kukupenda.

In 1985 he was among the founding members of Orch Vundumuna Band, which was based at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi.

The group featured, among others, Mofranck, Kelly Kanku Tabu Ngongo, Frantal Tabu and Nsilu wa Basilu 'Manitsho'.

Some of the Vundumuna's most popular songs include Vundumuna, Wivu Sina and Mariam.

The date of his funeral is expected to be announced later by his family members.