Friends re­call ‘bud­ding mu­si­cian’ whose life was cut short

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY ERIC MATARA AND FRAN­CIS MUREITHI

As de­tec­tives in­ves­ti­gate the mur­der of Ms Mon­ica Ki­mani in Kil­i­mani, Nairobi, close friends de­scribe the prime sus­pect in po­lice cus­tody as a promis­ing mu­si­cian since his youth.

Mr Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, 28, was a mem­ber of a band that en­ter­tained rev­ellers in Naivasha and Nakuru towns, where he was born and brought up. Mr Irungu comes from a fam­ily of artistes. One of his broth­ers is a gui­tarist, while an el­der brother is in pho­tog­ra­phy.

"He was an in­spir­ing singer,” said a friend who teamed up with Mr Irungu to form the mu­si­cal band.

The mem­bers later dis­banded to seek greener pas­tures. “At Agape Church in Pan­gani Es­tate, off the busy Kanu Street in Nakuru town, Irungu was a vo­cal­ist and an in­stru­men­tal­ist,” the friend said.

“He is one per­son who never missed church,” said an­other friend.

Yes­ter­day, when the Na­tion vis­ited Mr Irungu's home in Lanet on the out­skirts of Nakuru town at 4pm, the gate to the pala­tial house tucked be­tween Ki­ratina es­tate and Lanet Baracks, was closed.

Ef­forts to ac­cess the com­pound were fu­tile, de­spite knock­ing at the gate and ring­ing the bell. A neigh­bour we met at the en­trance re­vealed that a few weeks back, Mr Irungu's par­ents dis­closed that he was out­side the coun­try "but did not state what he was do­ing abroad”.

Mr Irungu is the sec­ond-born in a fam­ily of two boys and two girls. He was a founder mem­ber of church choir Agape Storm­ers. A worker at the church on Sat­ur­day said: "I knew him per­son­ally and I was shocked when I learnt that he had been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with mur­der".

Close friends re­vealed that Irungu schooled at Race­track Pri­mary, next to the sprawl­ing Mwariki es­tate where his fam­ily used to live, be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to an­other school. He joined Lan­galanga Sec­ondary School in 2008 and sat the Kenya Cer­tifi­cate of Sec­ondary Ex­am­i­na­tion ex­am­i­na­tion in 2011.

Mr Irungu's fam­ily later set­tled in Lanet. Many of his friends said that they parted ways with Mr Irungu when he went to Dubai and later Afghanistan, where he trained in se­cu­rity mat­ters.

All the friends that the Na­tion traced de­scribed Mr Irungu as a well-man­nered per­son of “good char­ac­ter”. “The last time I saw him in Nakuru was in 2015. Since then I have not heard of him,” said an­other band mem­ber.

A neigh­bour who de­clined to be named said he is yet to come to terms with the mur­der charges fac­ing Mr Irungu. “He was such an amaz­ing young man who was ta­lented in mu­sic and had su­perb vo­cals. I was shocked when I saw his pho­to­graph in the news­pa­pers as the main sus­pect in the Kil­i­mani mur­der,” the neigh­bour said.

Ms Mon­ica Ki­mani, 28.

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