This track has been removed at the request of the request of a representative of the copyright owner, KenTunes, LLC.
Not much of a pocket education this time I am afraid, the internet has a serious dearth of info on this group and my copy of “Rumba on the river” is non-existent.
Anyone who may want to fix that, please get in touch so that I can give you an address to send it to.
Anywayyyyyyyyyyyy . . .
The Maroon Commandos ( along with Les Wanyika and Super Mazembe if they are still out there ) constitute a third of the last of East Africa’s rumba big bands from the late 60s/early 70s. Formed at the start of the 70s by a group of active Kenya Armed Forces soldiers – hence the name of the band since soldiers in the Kenyan Armed Forces wear maroon berets as part of their uniforms – to perform mainly at army events, standard fare for this group was covers of hits by other hot rumba bands as well as pop from the west.
The Maroon Commandos were and continue to be very adaptive in that they would and still perform a mix of original and cover work. Their music is characterised by the use of trumphets and horns (martially music rears it – here – pretty head). However, as with all other other East African rumba from this period, the music centers around bass or rhythm guitars and sweet vocals with a story. The thing – like it has been said elsewhere – with Kenyan music from the 70s and the 80s it that it was all about the vocals. If you had a lead singer who was a good story-teller and had a sweet voice, you were very good; if you also had some band members who co-incidentally could also play then you were magnificient.
The group enjoyed an all time high in 1977 with the hit “Charoni – Ni Wasi” that I have posted here for your listening pleasure. I have to let you know however that to me – and many others I am sure – Maroon Commandos is all about “Amuka Kumekucha“, that instant early 80’s (I think 1981) hit that tell everyone to get their “behinds” out bed or out of wherever, sign up for “Patriotism 101” and go out and build the nation – basically M’s message to you KTs out there.
As of early 2003, there were still 13 members in the group including vocalist Mike Kajiwe, the new band leader John Ogega who replaced Habel Kifoto after he retired in late 2002, Tom Ogweno, Ngereri Mathias, Festo Riziki, Gideon Mwania, Diwani Nzaro, Papa Wekesa, Josephat Shikali, Yassin Hussein and Ravanelli who played keyboard for the group. Ogega is also known as “Magneto” for his ability to strut his stuff on the dancefloor. In late 2003/early 2004, the group was working on releasing an as yet un-named new album with the tracks “Marooni Shika Shika” and “Kenya Nchi Nzuri” while still performing two nights a week at a popular Nairobi nightspot – Simmers. They went on tour in Tanzania in 2003 and also performed at Kenya’s 41st anniversary of Independence celebrations in 2004.
Interestingly enough, in what I think is another example of the Kenyan adage of prophets having no favor in their own land, the Maroon Commandos frequently feature on ambiance radio in the US (here, here and here).
The Maroon Commandos and it’s members like all other Kenyan bands have had more than their fair share of woes from a 1972 road accident in which several band members perished to current wrangles over mis-appropriation of royalty revenues by the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK).
Again, a bonus track for this of you who went the distance – this is my all time favourite Maroon Commando track apart from the stuff that they play at the Tatoo at the Nairobi Show.
+ what KTs miss about Kenya.