Veteran musician Anthony Andenyi 'Khabilutsi' eulogised

Anthony Andenyi Susu

Veteran singer Anthony Andenyi Susu

Photo credit: Pool

The local music fraternity is this week mourning the passing on of veteran singer Mzee Anthony Andenyi Susu. Mzee Andenyi was arguably one of the top unsung heroes of music from Western Kenya. 

The 92-year-old Mzee Susu (also popularly known as Khabilutsi Wotana) is in the class of pioneer Kenyan musicians who in the 1950s recorded music alongside others like the legendary guitarist and singer George Mukabi of Sengula and Mtoto si Nguo fame. Notably, Mukabi is reputed for having been among the proponents of the Omutibo dance beat from Western Kenya. 

Also recording alongside Mzee Khabilutsi was John Mwale of Kenyatta Aliteswa Sana song fame.  

Unknown to many music fans, it was Mzee Khabilutsi who was among the first Kenyans to learn how to play the guitar when it was introduced in Kenya. It was John Oluchina (aka John Magita) from Ebusiratsi Ematsuli in Vihiga County who in 1945 was at the forefront of encouraging guitarists from that region.

Most of the well-known traditional Luhya musical instruments like Litungu, Esikuti, Olukhutse and Imboroma were among those Khabilutsi took a leading role in their use. 

Speaking to Saturday Nation earlier this week, Osore Omufulukhani, a preacher and musician, also from Bunyore, lauded the efforts by Khabilutsi in not only having been an inspiration to musicians in Western Kenya but the entire nation. 

 Osore was among those in the forefront of seeking posthumous recognition by those in authority of some of Khabilutsi's musical works. 

It was he who composed the patriotic song known as Kenya Nchi Yetu Tunaipenda Sana. According to Osore, Khabilutsi claimed that the government never compensated him despite the song having been used in many past state functions. 

Khabilutsi started his music career shortly after the Second World War in 1947. According to Osore, Khabilutsi owned his first guitar after being gifted by a European settler called Jim Konder in 1950. 

In 1953, Khabilutsi did his first recording with then African Gramophone Stores (AGS) and due to colonialism, he was only able to earn Sh45. 

However, Khabilutsi’s breakthrough was in 1955, when he formed the famous Bunyore band alongside Willy Omwana wa Leah. 

This was also the time Khabilutsi recorded his first album Khutiichekhuluchendo also in 1955.  Other leading musicians from Western Kenya he worked with include Reuben Imbiakha (from Kabras). 

He teamed up with Laurence Sifuna from Mihanya much in 1977 to do the song Epucha Yachila Omusiani Yera Samwana. Khabilutsi 

is due to be laid to rest next Saturday at his home in Eb’bayo Esiembero, Emuhaya Constituency, Vihiga County. Scores of local artists from Western Kenya and beyond are expected at the burial ceremony.

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