Papa Shirandula to Othuol: The celebs who died in 2020

Fans were left reeling by the news of so many bigwigs dying

In Summary

• Their causes of death ranged from brain tumour to accidents to Covid-19

Pall-bearers carry the late Papa Dennis coffin
Pall-bearers carry the late Papa Dennis coffin
Image: Moses Mwangi

The year 2020 will go down on as one where we lost celebrity after celebrity to an unusually high extent.

Most of these fallen but not forgotten figures come from music, television, sports, and film industries.

While the year has been tough for everyone, those who have lost their loved ones experience more pain and that which will never be forgotten.

Their deaths were caused by different circumstances. Check out the list of celebrities who have died in 2020.


The celebrated Churchill Show comedian died on October 11, 2020, while undergoing treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

News about the death of Othuol was made public by Churchill Show founder Daniel Ndambuki, alias Mwalimu Churchill, who confirmed that the comedian died after a long battle with a brain tumour.

"So sad, Ben Maurice, popularly known as Othuol Othuol, has gone to be with the Lord after a long struggle with brain tumour. May he Rest In Peace." Fellow comedian Captain Otoyo said Othuol had failed to take his medication right after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

"He was given medication which he was supposed to take for 60 days without fail. But Othuol used to drink. He took the medication for a month or so and stopped. Akarudia pombe kimpango and it came to our attention. Jalas, Sandra Dacha and I got mad with him."

Otoyo said they tried to talk to him and advised him to finish the medication so he could recover fully. He also addressed the rumour that Othuol was HIV-positive. "Some people started saying TB was associated with HIV-Aids and after doing several tests, he didn’t have Aids. It’s only TB."


The popular gospel singer died in early February. His death not only came as a shocker to many but also left a wound in most of his friends in the industry. He was a household name in Kenya, having released different hit songs, such as 'Makekes'. His death was announced on social media by other celebrities. His cause of death was questioned as many believed it was suicide.

He was in a studio session at Nairobi Records, owned by legendary producer Mash Mjukuu, when he stormed out of the room and fell from the 7th floor of the Ngara building and died immediately.

A postmortem exam conducted by Dr Josph Ngung’u found Papa Dennis died as a result of deceleration. Mash Mjukuu said the postmortem report couldn't tell whether the cause was suicidal or homicide.


Famously known as Papa Shirandula, Bukeko died in July after a short illness while receiving treatment at the Karen Hospital.

His brother-in-law Rowland Wanyama told the Star that the actor collapsed at the Karen Hospital's parking after developing breathing complications.

He added that Bukeko was not feeling well after returning to Nairobi and had tested positive for Covid-19. The widow, Beatrice Andega, while speaking at her husband’s funeral, said the facility’s alleged negligence may have led to his death. She told mourners hospital staff dragged their feet in attending to her husband when she took him for treatment on Saturday, the fateful day.

"They didn’t consider his condition an emergency and he died while we were at the waiting bay," she said.

"When he went to the hospital, he requested for three tests of malaria, pneumonia and Covid-19, but the hospital concentrated only on Covid and ignored the rest."

He was an award-winning actor, thespian, singer and director. Bukeko rose to fame when he was cast to play the role of Papa Shirandula in the popular TV series, which aired on Citizen TV.


The actor, who featured in dramas including 'Hullabaloo Estate', 'Vitimbi' and 'Jungu Kuu', died in July. The news of his demise was made public by his fellow actor Hussein Yusuf, popularly known as Bahali Yake, via a Facebook Post. "Innalillahi Wainna Ilayhi Rajiun…. kweli hii dunia sote ni wasafiri……we lost one of my colleague actor on jungu kuu a K24 tv programme…, Mr Kihara Mzee wa kofia hapo," he wrote.

"He was really a nice person and very kind, alipenda kutununulia mayai boilo tukiwa kwa set, na kweli alikua mcheshi……we will miss you gukaa…..pole kwa familia na marafiki….mungu awape subra familia wakati huu mgumu."


The Benga maestro died in May in a road accident on the Thika-Nairobi superhighway. He was with fellow artiste Jacksam Kibandi. He was known for songs such as 'Airìtu a Ruiru', 'Anisa', 'Karenjù', 'Mama Sululu' and 'Utuire uhenagia'.


The Queen of Ohangla Music Maureen Achieng, alias Lady Maureen, died in July after a long illness. She died while recuperating at her family's home in Uriri, Migori county, weeks after being discharged from hospital.

Before her death, Lady Maureen was in and out of hospital for almost three years. She told Mpasho she was weak and could not speak.

Her mother Atieno had also at some point neglected her, saying she was not in a position to properly take care of her. She also hinted that Lady Maureen neglected them at the height of her career and a family friend had to take care of Maureen.

Speaking to Word Is, the mother said she was frustrated and disappointed.

"For the past year, I've not seen any friend mwenye alikuwa anakula nao Blueband huko Nairobi. Wanasemanga kibaya ndio inabakia mzazi, na mimi ndiye nimebakia naye," Akinyi said.

She expressed her disappointment with artistes who squander their fortunes in their heyday.

"Remember where you came from and your parents as well," she said. "If God blesses you, don't squander your money with strangers or rather people who don't advise you to invest, because when you go broke, they all run away and it is us, parents, who suffer, especially if you get sick just like my daughter's case."


The Ohangla musician died while undergoing treatment at St Jairus Hospital in Kisumu, where he had been admitted after developing breathing complications.


Kasee died in June and his body was reportedly found by the road leading to his home. His sudden demise was made public by Mwalimu Churchill, who condoled with the family of the deceased.

"A really sad way to end the is a bitter pill to swallow but then we cannot question God’s plans. My deepest condolences to the family & friends of Kasee..May your hearts find peace from the almighty. #safirisalamakasee," Churchill wrote.

The postmortem report indicated that the comedian drank from a poisoned cup, leading to his death.