Alfred Amuno: Tracing the history of Malaika song in Kenya, Tanzania, Cuba

Miriam Makeba and Malaika Dispute: Another composer that was closely associated with Malaika ballad is the world famous South African musician, Miriam Makeba: (1932 - 2008). Makeba’s encounter with the song happened right about 1963 when she was invited to perform during Kenya’s Jamuhuri (independence) Day celebrations in the company of Harry Belafonte.

Fadhili William and His Malaika Story: Fadhili William (RIP) was born Fadhili William Mdawida In November 11th 1938 in Kenya. He passed on in February 11th 2001. Many Kenyans believe he was the original composer of Malaika, and he, of course, had a story to tell to prove he wrote the song.
Adam Salim and His Malaika Story: Adam Salim (RIP) was born in 1916 in Tanzania and claimed he was the original composer of Malaika ballad. Until today, many Tanzanians believe Salim wrote the song and should be recognized for it.

The Timeline of Fadhili William and Adam Salim Rivalry
  • The dispute regarding the origin of Malaika is particularly big in East Africa simply because it pits Kenya against Tanzania, two countries that are musical rivals for decades. None from the two countries believes the song should belong to the other.
  • Salim was a mechanic and performed in Nairobi night clubs where he claims to have debuted Malaika song in early1950s.
  • According to reports from Salim camp, William was one of his young proteges and from where he must have listened and copied Malaika ballad.
  • Salim claimed that William beat him to Columbia East African Music Company studios where he recorded the initial two verses of the song in 1959. The story goes that William actually cashed Salim Shs 60/- Kenyan shillings as a token of appreciation.
  • Fadhili William again recorded Malaika in 1960 with his famous Jambo Boys and re-did it a few times later in the next decades.
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