BY YUNIA AMUNGA
Ah uh! Ah uh! Ehe! Bebwaaaa! Ma chekbob Iko Kitu!
I believe this is how Toni Msalame would like to be remembered.
This was his cue-in to his popular Sheki Leggy programme on Metro FM. Msalame graced our airwaves every Saturday with great Lingala hits and on Sundays with Soul searching Gospel music dubbed \’The Gospel Hour\’.
His death on Friday, as it must even to legends, was however too sudden.
I knew Msalame way back in 1996 where l co-hosted the Sheki Leggy programme with him. An aggressive entertainer, Msalame was very organised when it came to his selection of music. A character that saw him command a huge listenership in Nairobi and beyond.
When l first met Msalame at KBC studios, l was excited and went up to him and said \’\’Dennis it\’s glad to meet you in person.\’\’ The jovial man he was, he laughed and corrected me \’\’Dennis is my stage name; I am Toni Msalame.\’\’
Dennis was the character in the popular local drama \’Tushauriane\’. He had a way with people and l believe that is what made him a household name.
Multi-tasking for Mr Msalame was not foreign and most of us who passed through his mentorship have gained tremendously. He respected his job and worked with alot of enthusiasm. Let’s just say he had a passion for what he did.
Two months ago l met him along Moi Avenue and he possessed the same energy he did many years ago. He always encouraged anyone who passed in his hands to work like there is no tomorrow.
He was like a father to many.
Our Sports Editor James Wokabi remembers with nolstagia how popular Sheki Leggy had given the station an identity. \’\’Why do such people die?\’\’ He asks me. \’\’Msalame had a way of getting even to the most remote people in Kenya and now all that is just gone,\’\’ he mourns.
Mr Msalame was among legendary broadcasters who have reigned the Kenyan airwaves since independence. Prior to venturing into private media ownership, he had worked for many years in the advertising industry.
Mr Msalame surely would have appreciated – indeed, relished – the irony that his death happened as he prepared for another radio show at his Sheki FM in Mombasa.
An icon to reckon with he leaves behind a wife and two lovely daughters.
May the Almighty rest his soul in eternal Bliss.
Ah uh! Ah uh! Ehe! Bebwaaaa!
(Yunia Amunga is a News Anchor with Capital FM).