‘Sis, I’m dying,’ Kunguru’s last words to the sister, Irene Onguru

Kunguru's sister Irene Onguru gets emotional during the requiem mass.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi I Nation Media Group

The sudden death of Kenyan artiste and philanthropist Eric Okoth Onguru, better known as Kunguru, has left a void in the hearts of his family, friends, and fans. 

He passed away on Sunday, March 19, at 2pm at a Nairobi hospital where he had been admitted for the past few weeks.

Kunguru had been in and out of hospital since 2017 due to an accident that affected his spinal cord.

His family held a funeral service at the Montezuma and Monalisa Funeral Home on Wednesday, March 29.

Several friends and former university mates paid their respects to the generous soul who touched many lives.

During the funeral, Kunguru’s sister, Irene Onguru, shared some of her best moments with her brother, whom she accompanied to about three hospitals where the late artiste was admitted.

She said that Kunguru paid her school fees from high school to college and ensured that her life at school was smooth.

Irene noticed that her brother was ailing when his skin colour suddenly turned pale last Christmas. This led to his journey in and out of hospitals to treat his liver complications.

“I asked him, 'what is wrong Eric?' I just left the other day, and you were okay, what has happened? He didn’t look at me, but he told me, ‘Irene, I’m dying’. I thought it was a joke, but he repeated it three times. I thought Eric was joking,” Irene said.

Kunguru’s brother, Michael Ouma, described him as the unifying factor in their family, and the two of them were frequently involved in making family decisions.

“Anything to do with confrontations, I can attest, Eric was not confrontational … if he was not happy with any family decision, he would switch off and that would be the end.”

Stanchart bank's Edith Chumba, who spoke on behalf of bankers who attended the funeral and who worked with Kunguru in the banking sector, described him as a strong salesperson during his early days in the sector.

She recalled the moments when Kunguru was complaining of pain due to diabetes and would ask for time to go outside.

“Sometimes we would be in a meeting, and he tells me, ‘Boss, just one minute’, and then he goes [outside] and when he came back, he had no strength, but he held on. I would have fired Eric five years ago … but his health, I saw in his heart that he wanted to do this, because when Eric was okay, he worked his heart out,” Ms Chumba said.

The music industry has also lost one of its best artistes.

Musician Mr Lenny, who recorded some hits with Kunguru, attended the funeral alongside another Kenyan legendary musician, Nameless, real name David Mathenge.

Kunguru’s legacy will live on through his music and the lives he touched.

He was mostly known for his club-banging hits “I Will Never Let You Go”, and “Baby Don’t Go,” which featured Mr Lenny.

Kunguru, nicknamed “ladies’ man” because of his witty and catchy lyrics, and his style of music, started rapping at a young age. And in 2006, he released his first mainstream hit, “African Woman,” featuring Mr Lenny.

He will be buried on April 1, 2023, in his hometown in Alego Usonga, Siaya County.


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