Last updated September 7, All his work was lost in a studio fire and nothing was ever released. In this period, Fadhili worked with most of the great musicians in and around Nairobi. He was a journeyman musician whose career spanned nearly a half-century, with some compositions to his credit. Fadhili was among the first in East Africa to use an electric guitar. Prior to that, he had been performing on Saturday nights at Nairobi’s Panafric Hotel. Clearly, he had a good ear for music coming from other parts of the world.

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Her performances of the song brought it to the attention of such famous names as Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte, pop groups such as Boney M, and scores of African artists including Angelique Kidjo and the Mahotella Queens. Last updated September 7, His songs and arrangements mix diverse elements from robust jazz chords to American country and western sounds, from walking baselines to Latin rumbas and South African kwela.

The group started out as a quartet with Fadhili as guitarist and leader along fadhilu string bass, trumpet, and drums. His circa recording, Malaika Angelremains the definitive version of this now world-famous song. As Kenya’s benga music style gradually picked up steam in the late 60s and came to dominate in the 70s, the lighter “easy-listening” music of Fadhili and cohorts faded from the scene. On this, Kenyan guitarist Aziz Salim lamented, “We had a traditional acoustic Kenyan music, and it lasted until people like Fadhili William came along with all this txi Jambo Boys stuff.


Little is on record for this period in Fadhili William’s life. But, apparently frustrated by his inability to make any great headway in either the local or international scenes from East Africa, Fadhili returned to the US in to pursue his musical ambitions. Every Tuesday, they held auditions for new artists and materials. Not a lot of his music is available outside of Kenya but a few haxi can be found on the now rare Before Benga compilations willjams Original Music.

Clearly, he had a good ear for music coming from other parts of the world. Although Fadhili’s claim of authorship of the song is disputed among several Kenyans williamz Tanzanians, there is no argument that it is one of the best known songs throughout Africa.

Fadhili William: A Remembrance

With Blackart’s departure txihis successor placed even more reliance upon Fadhili. Prior to that, he had been performing on Saturday nights at Nairobi’s Panafric Hotel. The Nation and The Standard.

Guitarists, he said, were jealous and didn’t want to share their skills. It was a bitter sweet career for the man who enjoyed immense popularity in Kenya but spent much of his life fighting for recognition and royalties for Malaika from the international community.

Again, Fadhili’s musical prowess must have made a good impression, this time with recording and sales manager Eric Blackart.

One of the highlights of his stay in the US must have been Fadhili’s participation in the tour of Kenyan-based musicians, Samba Mapangala performing with John Ngereza and Les Wanyika. Return to Articles about Kenyan Music.

He died three weeks later, newspaper accounts citing pneumonia as the cause of death. All those fadhhili in talent evaluation, producing, and engineering did not go to waste, however. Fadhili was invited to perform on their Boston date, June 27th.


In addition to his role as a talent scout, Fadhili also served as a session musician and arranger playing second guitar on many recordings. Fadhili William Mdawida leaves behind wives in Nairobi and New Jersey, 8 children and 9 grandchildren.

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Later that same year, Fadhili returned to Kenya with his daughter. Blackart came to rely upon Fadhili’s knowledge and intuition of what might do well in the East African market. Along with Guantanamera, Malaika is in the warm-up repertoire of nearly every hotel band on the continent. He once again started performing in hotels and “Golden Oldies Nite” concerts in Nairobi to the backing of such groups as Them Mushrooms and the Pressman Band.

Towards the end ofFadhili’s health began to deteriorate requiring three weeks in intensive hospital care for pneumonia in November. He stayed about a year before returning to East Africa.

But he must have been a quick study because he was soon recruited into Chem Chem Kids, his first group, by saxophonist Alexander Ayub. Fadhili was among the first in East Africa to use an williame guitar. By mid-January this year, Fadhili’s condition worsened again and he was once more admitted for hospital care.