Today marks exactly one year since the death of Hannah Mkangea, Fadhili William’s maternal aunt who passed away on November 18 last year. Fadhili is the internationally-acclaimed author/composer of the song “Malaika”
Hannah Mkangea’s remains were interred in the family cemetery in Mariwenyi Village near Taita Taveta University College on Saturday, November 22. She was 98.
She is survived by her children Margaret Kio, Peter William Mshangai, Elizabeth Wali, Joseph Mwanjala, Michael Bosco Mwanyumba and Christine Wachia. Before Margaret Kio was born, Hannah Mkangea had had six miscarriages!
Appearing for an interview conducted by VoiCES at her Mariwenyi residence earlier in 2013, Hannah Mkangea, surrounded by her lively daughters Elizabeth Wali and Christine Wachia and son Peter William Mshangai, mirthfully recalled her visits to her sister Halima Wughanga Tindire’s Nairobi home as the young Fadhili William was still honing his musical prowess.
A portrait of the late Fadhili William strumming the Guitar, as well as another depicting his late sister Esther John and her two daughters, still adorned the walls in Hannah Mkangea’s humble abode situated a few meters away from the parental home of Hon. Joyce Wanjalah Lay, Taita Taveta County’s Women representative.
According to Hannah Mkangea, the young Fadhili once attended Voi DEB School at Voi’s Kariokor in the early 40’s. However, he would often run away from School and instead, roam in Voi Town playing truancy as he went on his errands selling milk in jerry cans to Ramji’s shop, from Grandpa Mchughwa’s milking shed. “There was plenty of milk and ghee, in the area then”, stated Hannah.
As the interview had progressed, it soon became clear, but, with minor interjections from Hannah Mkangea’s daughters, concerned at her failing health and faltering memory, that she knew as much as she cared to divulge, about the late Fadhili William’s early life in Taita and Nairobi.
Hannah Mkangea was born in Mwingonyi, Rong’e Ward, to the late Mwambala son of Kisingo, more popularly known as “Mchughwa” who originally hailed from Mole Hill in Mraru Sub- Location, Mbololo Location.
Hannah Mkangea’s mother, Elizabeth Wawuda, however, hailed from Mwangoringo in Rong’e Juu Location, and was the daughter of Mafundo Wa Mwandoe. Elizabeth Wawuda and the late Chief Thomas Mghalu were first cousins. Hannah Mkangea could still recall she and her siblings, Halima Wughanga-Fadhili William’s mother, and Frederick Mzee occasionally visiting the late Chief Thomas Mghalu’s home in Mbale, Taita.
According to Hannah Mkangea, Mzee Mchughwa, a cattle keeper, drove his cattle from Mole to Mariwenyi where they ultimately settled, while Hannah Mkangea was still a young girl. Subsequently, he took part in the First World War as many able-bodied men did. Although Hannah Mkangea could not recall the exact year her father died, she could, however, remember that he was buried at Mwandongo Hill next to the home of Mzee Machi wa Ighombo, situated adjacent to Mariwenyi Primary School. The Mchughwa family moved to the famous Malalo’s Club in Mariwenyi after Mzee Mchughwa’s demise.
Hannah Mkangea tied the knot with Gabriel Ngoyo son of Mshangai from Ngona, Sagalla, at Voi Catholic Church. Her husband was then employed by the Railways as an Engineer Grade 9. He passed on in 1963, leaving a house still under construction. He was buried at Mlondo Church Cemetery where-after, Hannah was compelled by social circumstances, to return to her home in Mariwenyi, where she brought up her six children. At the time of her death, however, Hannah Mkangea regularly attended the Gospel Church in the neighborhood.
Sister Halima’s Marriage in Rong’e Juu:
Hannah Mkangea was young when her elder sister Halima Wughanga was married to Ramadhan Mwamburi son of Mwataku of Rong’e Juu. She was married as a second wife. Ramadhan’s first wife-“Mee Abdallah”, was divorced and sent away with her son Abdallah. Abdallah’s mother later re-married Mzee Msagha of Kokotonyi, Mariwenyi. She later had other children, namely Masumani, Kina, and Shida. While Shida still lives in Taveta, Masumani lives in Mariwenyi. Mzee Ramadhan Mwamburi’s ’s first wife had her first child, Mbughi-a girl, followed by Abdallah.
Hannah Mkangea recalled visiting her sister Halima in Rong’e Juu, Ndembonyi during the early years of the latter’s marriage. Halima’s first child, “Harrison” Ali Mwataku, was followed by Mchughwa (Fadhili William) and then Mbughi or, “Majengo” as she was commonly known. When the latter acquired fame in her own singing career, she became popularly known as “Esther John”
In what appears to confirm Fadhili William’s own recollections prior to his demise in 2001, Hannah Mkangea stated that Fadhili William’s father Ramadhan Mwamburi, who was renowned for his performances of the Taita ‘Mghonda” dance, lived and worked in Mombasa where he was employed by the Railways as a security guard. In a curious social turn of events, however, Ramadhan Mwamburi, stayed at the father-in-laws original home in Kighononyi/Mwandongo as he ailed from tubor culosis. According to Hannah Mkangea, prior to Mzee Ramadhan Mwamburi’s demise, the latter had willed that he be interred in Marumbenyi at Mzee Silas Lundi’s home about ten kilometers away, instead of Rong’e Juu. The late Silas Lundi was related to Mzee Ramadhan Mwamburi.
Upon her husband Ramadhan Mwamburi’s death, Halima Wughanga started dealing in clothes. Subsequently, however she moved to Nairobi where she took up residence in Kaloleni . In due course, Fadhili’s mother met with and got married to a Mr. Swaleh, from Ukambani. Swaleh, a night guard, initially worked in the Colonial Service before joining the Railways Corporation in the same capacity. Prior to co-habiting with Swaleh, Halima, apparently, had co-habited with a Mr William, also from Ukambani. Coincidentally, William too was a watchman. Fadhili adopted his name “William”. It was after her separation from William that Halima co-habited with Swaleh. She was still however living with Swaleh when she passed on in 1967. In later life, upon abandoning the clothes business, she was employed as an Ayah in White homes in the area then known as Mayer Car berry, in the neighborhood of the area formerly occupied by the Kenya School of Law along Valley Road.
Esther John Mbugi/“Majengo”
Fadhili’s younger sibling Esther John who died and was buried in Congo Kinshasa in 1972, attended Primary School in Nairobi. She got married to Ben Nicholas, a Saxophonist, from luo Nyanza. He was a member of the City Five Band which left for Congo Kinshasa in the late 1950s. By the time Esther joined her husband in the Congo, she had had her first child, Josephine.
Kenya Broadcasting Service
Initially, Esther John, an accomplished singer, worked at the Kenya Broadcasting Service, in the days of the veteran broadcaster, the late Stephen Kikumu. While on her broadcasting stint, Esther John would practice her music, simultaneously. She recorded several songs with her siblings, including “Kibingilisho Igome”, with Ali Mwataku on drums. In some of her songs, her husband accompanied her on the saxophone
Kenya Embassy in Congo.
While in Congo Kinshasa, Esther was employed at the Kenya Embassy, during the days of Kenya’s Ambassador, Mwabili Kisaka.
Josephine got married to a Zambian Diplomat who worked in Congo, Kinshasa. Regrettably, Josephine also passed away in July 2012, in Lusaka Zambia.
Ben Nicholas- Saxophonist
Meanwhile, Esther John’s husband, died in Mombasa in the 1990s, after returning to Kenya after his wife’s death. Prior to his demise, he had been performing Grill Music at the Diani Reef, Ukunda in the South Coast. His burial in Kisauni Cemetery, near Kongowea, Mombasa was attended by daughter Josephine and Hannah Mkangea’s own daughter Elizabeth Wali.
In penning these memoirs, and, as the Mchughwa family celebrates Hannah Mkangea’s first anniversary, it is regrettable that the contents of her interview giving anecdotal insights into the life of Fadhili William was not published earlier.
Voi City, Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Duncan Mwanyumba is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya currently based in Voi City, Coast Province of Kenya, a cultural enthusiast and the Vice-President of the Rotary Club of Voi
[This article originally appeared in Voi City Entertainment and Sports’ Website-www.voices.co.ke]