Safari Sound Band still going strong

Safari Sound Band. (Courtesy)

Even with the retirement and death of her original members, Safari Sound Band is still holding strong four decades on.

It’s one of the biggest and most popular bands with its origins at the coast.

Some of the songs that have catapulted the band to fame include ‘Jambo Bwana’, ‘Coconut’, ‘Lala Salama’, ‘Karibuni Kenya’, ‘Mombasa’, ‘Pole Pole’ and ‘Mama Sofia’.

The challenges and problems the band has faced for the past four decades are the other side of the coin, the other being the successes it has achieved.

The band has struggled to maintain its identity as one of the prominent musical outfits from the Coast, in the class of Them Mushrooms and Mombasa Roots that are still active.

“Despite the challenges we have faced in the past, we overcome them, a development that even made us stronger and stronger. But we are still ready to give our fans what they deserve anytime, anyplace and anywhere and wherever they need us,” said band leader Juma Mzingo, a founder member of the outfit.

Although they are still mourning the recent death of composer, singer and saxophonist John Mohammed Izungu, he said they still have enough arsenal in their armoury. This should allow them to continue firing at their fans in the world of Pop and Chakacha music for many years to come.

“We still have enough members whom we have gradually recruited over time who should take us to the next level as we passionately entertain our fans here (in Kenya) and globally,” said Mzingo.

He is happy with their rich history of the band’s global tours on official duty.

Singer and composer

The band is composed of six members who include Mzingo, Mzingo’s daughter who is a singer and composer Zillia Waithaka, singer and keyboard player Ali Salim Abdalla, guitarist Gabriel Kazungu and drummer Mwambo.

All the six, except for Mzingo, have been with the band for only seven years.

“We had recruited them after the retirement and death of some of our members but our but so far they have displayed a better and spirited performance that puts the future of the band bright,” said Mzingo.

Those who retired from the band were singers Swaleh ‘Waiyaki’ Mbarak, Hamisi Kombo and guitarist Mohammed Biraj. Keyboard specialist Richard Chulli and composer cum singer John Mohammed Izungu have passed on.

“Such songs made us win awards at different levels and we are happy even the foreign tourists acknowledge their popularity,” said the band leader.

“We have been invited to perform in public and private functions attended by public and private dignitaries,” he said.

The band has perform several times in State functions attended by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa.

And besides their continental tours of Uganda, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Seychelles and South Africa, the band has also visited a number of European countries.

They are Austria, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

They have as well visited Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Muscat in Oman, all in the Middle East.

Off all these foreign tours, the band has made more tours in Switzerland followed by Germany.

 “Switzerland has been our second home after Kenya. We have made as many trips as we have had in Kenya. All of them have been live shows,” he said.

While in Germany, they have visited the major cities of Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen and Leipzig.

“We have visited all of them (German cities) while entertaining our European fans. We are proud of this rich history of our foreign tours,” said Mzingo.

Before switching to Mombasa as their permanent base, the band used to perform at Foresta Magnetica Hotel Hotel at Corner House in Nairobi.

“We have had a rich history on our live performances in the capital city but we have as well replicated that in Mombasa and ready to do it in other parts of the country,” said Mzingo.



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