Miriam Makeba passed the baton to Mbilia Bel

Six months before her passing she told Mbilia to take the touch.

In Summary

Nakei Nairobi singer was in Kenya for Koroga Festival.

Mbilia Bel
Mbilia Bel
Image: Douglas Okiddy

Legendary singer Mbilia Bel was in the country for the 28th Edition of Koroga Festival, which went down at the weekend at the Bomas of Kenya.

Mbilia told Word Is on Friday that the late South African singer Miriam Makeba asked her to take over, months before she died.

"Six months before her passing, she invited me to her home in South Africa and said to me 'Mbilia, I am tired and I am old. It's now your time to take the touch and hold it strong'," the Congolese singer said. 


"I cannot forget that. I have very warm and strong memories of Mama Africa [Miriam Makeba]." The anti-apartheid icon died on November 10, 2008, at Castel Volturno, near Naples, Italy. 

Mbilia has a new dance song called Kanyanga, which encourages people to forgive.

"When you do something wrong to somebody close to you just say sorry, that's all. Apologise," the Nadina hitmaker said.

"So there is a dance for it. An apology is one that has the power that frees everything up. God forgives us at all times, why would we not forgive others."

One of Mbilia's well-known songs is Nakei Nairobi, which she says was inspired by Lord Tabu Ley.

"I got the inspiration from Lord Tabu Ley and it's because he told me that he loves Nairobi, Kenya, because there [were] warm, nice and kind people. He thought the song was gonna be strong. So I made a song about the people in Kenya," she said.

Koroga Festival event was supported by Kenya Breweries Limited through its Tusker Cider brand.

“We were honoured to have gotten a chance to contribute to the growth of arts and culture in our country through our sponsorship,” said Christine Mwaura, marketing manager – Tusker trademark.

"We hope that even as our customers enjoy the music our local talent will exchange contacts with the international acts and get a chance to export our music to their countries as well."

Mbilia wants to leave the legacy of oneness. "I want people to remember me for being proud of being African and that my music talks about people being united and strong. I want people to remain united through my music."