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January 19, 2019

Benga star and 'Lunchtime' hitmaker Gabriel Omolo dies

Gabriel Omolo
Gabriel Omolo

Veteran Benga star Gabriel Omolo of the much-acclaimed hit song, 'Lunchtime', has passed away. He passed away at the Busia County Referral Hospital.

He died at about 9pm on Wednesday night after a long illness.

The chairman of the Nyanza branch of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya said Omolo had kidney and liver complications.

Tabu Osusa, who is the founding executive director of Ketebul Music, spoke to Word Is.

"I haven't seen Omollo for quite sometime, ever since he moved to Western Kenya. Omolo was a really great composer, I mean he's a great songwriter. Lunchtime was one of the best songs ever recorded in the history of this country. He was great both in Kiswahili and Luo, and he was quite the gifted one."

We also reached out to one of his great friends, Albert Tuesday Oguro, who was not aware of Gabriel's demise when we reached out, but he was indeed shocked about the news.

Friend Meshack Kobul spoke to the Star about how talented Omolo was. 

"Omolo was a humble mzee, whose music was carefully drafted with educative massages," he said.

"He could not be compared to some of the arrogant Benga musicians of the old days, who thrived on composing music that vilified their colleagues."

Omolo was born in 1939 and was raised at the railway quarters of Muthurwa and later in Makongeni, Nairobi.

He learnt how to play the guitar while at St Peters Claver’s Primary School, where he sang in the choir.

In 1974, he became the first Kenyan musician to be awarded an international gold disc after selling 150,000 copies of his ‘Lunchtime’ single.

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