Safari Sound Band co-founder Izungu dies aged 76

The late Mohammed Izungu.

Mohammed Izungu, of Safari Sound Band, is dead. Izungu died on April 4, 2024, in a Mombasa Hospital after a long illness and was buried on April 5. He was 76.

“Jambo Family, we are sad to announce the promotion to glory of John Izungu, our vocalist and saxophonist of over 40 years. John went to be with the Lord on the evening of April 4, 2024, and laid to rest 24 hours later in Mombasa, Kenya,” Safari Sound Band posted on their Facebook.

Izungu was a singer, composer and saxophonist who wowed many with his skill.

He played a part in hits like 'Asante Sana 'Lala Salama' and 'Nakupenda', songs that were part of the 80s and 90s memorable era for Kenyan music.

Some of the songs are loved up-to-date and are popular in radio and television stations in the region.

Izungu was also known for the popular Chakacha song 'Mama Lea Mtoto'.

“He (Izungu) was articulate in his work after we teamed up together for the first time in 1982 in several shows until his death," said current band leader Juma Mzingo.

Born a Christian John Michael Izungu in 1948, he converted to Islam in his latter years and acquired the name of Mohammed Izungu.

For a time, he was a teacher at St Ann’s School in Mombasa where he taught for five years with a deep interest in music.

As one of the founding members of Safari Sound Band in 1976, Izungu had been in the music industry for 55 years. 

Other founding members of the band were Swaleh Mbarak, Mohammed Siraj, Dallah Hamisi Kombo and Chuli Rishad.

Among the first artistes to send their condolences to Izungu's family and relatives was Them Mushrooms Band leader John Katana Harrison, who also conveyed the condolence messages from the Kenya Musicians Union.

“We have lost a pioneer musician from the coastal region and we condole with the family and relatives of the fallen artiste at this hard time,” Harrison said.

While they never collaborated, Harrison said they had a close working relationship that resulted in them permitting Safari Sound band to record a rendition of their (Mushroom) song – 'Kenya Hakuna Matata' aka 'Jambo Bwana!'

Well-known as an Alto and Tenor Saxophonist, Izungu was a well-travelled man with the Safari Sound Band, performing in Europe, Asia and other African countries.


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