Saturday, May 29, 2010

Toni Msalame Is Dead

Some knew him for his Sheki Legi radio show on Metro FM while others identified him with his voice roaring, "bara bara kabisa hii ni Zum Zum kipindi cha kuongeza maarifa na Tido Mhando na Tony Msalame".

Yet, others will miss his Tushauriane TV series of 1980s, which has gone into history as one of the most popular productions to ever hit the Kenyan TV screens.

That is just part of the legacy of veteran broadcaster-cum-comedian Tony Msalame, who passed on Friday morning in Mombasa. He was pronounced dead at Pandya Memorial Hospital where he had been rushed after complaining of chest pains.

His friends and fans eulogised him as one of the most accomplished actors and radio presenters to have graced the Kenyan entertainment industry.

Radio presenter Fred Obachi Machoka eulogised Msalame as a humble man who used to do his job well. "He had great passion for entertainment in both TV as an actor and radio as a DJ," said Machoka.

Great passion

The Standard on Saturday cartoonist Maddo says Msalame was a great friend for many years and had a great personal influence on his life. To Maddo, the fallen broadcaster was a natural actor with a number of stage appearances to his credit. Msalame had leading role in the KBC’s soap Tushauriane along with Dennis Kasheru and Allan Konya.

The first of its kind and immensely popular, the series was written by the late Osodo-Osodo and directed by Greg Adambo.

"One of his most notable stage roles was in Mabepari wa Venisi, the Julius Nyerere translation of The Merchants of Venice, alongside JD Chege, Wahome Muchiri and Kathleen Openda," says Maddo.

Mwalimu James Onyango Joel remembers Msalame as one of the most accomplished radio presenters who had great taste for music.

"I will miss him very much...We are together with his family during this most trying moments," said Mwalimu.

He said he has known him since 1980s and recalled how he would skillfully blend taarab music with other genres.

"I also remember him acting in Tushauriane. He did it beautifully," he said.

Machoka is nostalgic about his "healthy competition" with Msalame, which he says served to build their careers.

Master of the game

"I remember one time I left the radio and he went on air and declared that ‘I am now the master of the game’. I told him I would be back. When I went to do Roga Roga, I called and told him ‘now, pack your things and leave because I am back’. We used to tease each other a lot and we would laugh about it," he said.

Prior to his death, Msalame had invited Machoka to his Sheki FM studios in Mombasa as a guest. He set up Sheki FM after leaving Metro in 2005.

Msalame’s fans will also remember his works. Daniel Ndeti was particularly nostalgic about his selection of lingala music. "Enyewe (honestly), he had the listeners hooked to the radio (and) of course you can’t forget how he used to ensure music kept flowing. He had a taste," he said.

Caleb Shiliswa recalls how almost every other matatu would to tune into Shaki Legi in those days.

In 2006, Msalame’s Sheki FM was one of the radio station chosen by BBC radio as a partner station in Kenya alongside Star FM.

Exciting development

Following the signing of the partnership with the Director of BBC World Service, Nigel Chapman, Msalame said: "The fact that listeners of Sheki FM will have the opportunity to enjoy BBC programmes, is an exciting development for us.

"Sheki is the fastest growing FM radio station in Coast region and I know audiences will appreciate the added value which BBC programmes will bring to our output."

His love for music and radio led him to present a series of shows at KBC produced by John Obong’o Jnr.

Besides the various world music genres that he followed, Tony was particularly enthusiastic about jazz.

He joined a host of well-known personalities that Obong’o lined up to present Jazz Hour, who included Murimi Eston, South African jazz pianist Charles Sekano, Mike Maganzo and Paul Kelemba (Maddo). He later teamed up to co-present Rhythm and Blues with Fayaz Qureishi.

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