22 years later, the life history of celebrated Benga artist Charles Musyoki ‘Kijana’ of Kimangu Boys

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A past photo of Charles Musyoki Kikumbi Kijana of Kimangu Boys. (Photo - Courtesy)

22 years ago July 10, 2000, celebrated Kamba benga artist Charles Musyoki Kikumbi alias Kijana of Kimangu Boys passed on in a road accident a few kilometers from kyumbi at Katheka Kai. At the day of his demise, he was coming from inlaws at Machinery having disagreed with the wife Marietta Musyoki.

In 1994 he got married to Amina Ishmael and they later separated. He thereafter married Marietta with whom they were friends when she was schooling at Darajani secondary in Kibwezi. He paid Marietta’s fees from when she was in Form 2. They got one child Festus Kikuu Kikumbi Junior in 1998.

Kijana remains celebrated 2 decades after his demise and his music is still listened to by many of his fans. We went to the archives just to find out the life history of Kijana.

Charles Musyoki Kikumbi (Kijana) was born in 1970 at Ithekethini village, Kimangu in Yatta. His parents were Maria and Kikumbu Kituu. He schooled at Kaumoni primary and later joined Kaumoni secondary. After school he joined Kyanganga boys band of Peter Muambi and quit after some time to join Kimangu Boys Band which belonged to his brother.

In 1991, Kijana did Leo ni Leo in his first volume then Mpenzi Anna as second volume, Wendo Usu as third volume in 1992. In 1993 he did Mwaka wa Mikatiko (Volume 4), Kadogo (Volume 5) and Sweet Mulalu (Volume 6). In 1994 he did Kunua Kiangi (Volume 7), Harusi ya MK (Volume 8), Mpenzi Wangu nimerudi (Volume 9). In 1995 he did Elimu ni Kitu Kizuri (Volume 10), Safari ya Kisii (Volume 11) and Show ya Kitui (Volume 12).

Kijana skipped volume 13 for reasons he did not reveal and went to Volume 14 Majibu ya Monyoncho in 1996 and Shida ya Kinyambu (Volume 15). In 1997, he did Original Kuluta (Volume 16). In 1998, he did Keka Nineesi (Volume 17) and Bomb blast (Volume 18). The next year he did Katheka Kambu (Volume 19) and Songs of the new millenium (Volume 20).

Before passing on he had prepared volume 21 but had not released it. After passing on, his brother Kyalo Junior Diambo took charge of Kimangu band and released Volume 22 – Tumkumbuke Kijana, Volume 23 Mukasa wa Kyanguli and Volume 24 Muoi Musyi. Kyalo Junior passed on 23rd March 2002.

Kijana’s son Festus Kituu Musyoki in 2016 released his first song Pole Mashabiki.

Unknown to many, Kijana was a businessman with interests in the Matatu sector. He worked closely with Simon Munywoki of Original line and had 5 Matatu’s. He was also part of KANU youth wing.