Caretaker said he had heard a thud – Papa Dennis’ twin brother speaks

Papa Dennis [Photo: Courtesy]

A week since the shocking news, mystery surrounds the death of award-winning gospel singer Papa Dennis, the young shy boy from a humble family in Matunda who rose to glory, overcoming challenges to shine bright- then blaze out fast.

It is October 6, 2018.

Accompanied by his then manager Canam Vusha and his Maliza Umaskini boss Sadat Muhindi, the young and shy gospel singer checks in at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ready for his flight to Texas, USA. He is headed for the African Muzik Magazine Awards (Afrimma) where he has been nominated in the Best Gospel Artiste category- and slated to perform.

“I won the Pulse Music Video Awards (PMVA) last year (2017) and I think this is the next frontier that I need to conquer and so may God help me,” he tells Pulse before the team enjoy a cup of tea at the airport lobby. We say a little prayer and off Papa Dennis and his team leaves for USA.

Coming back, the young artiste was making headlines across Africa after his surprise win. Alongside Khaligraph Jones who had been crowned the Best Hip-Hop artiste, Papa Dennis was flying the Kenyan flag high.

Those were the heights of the music career of a young boy from a humble background in Matunda in Western Kenya. He fought his way to the limelight thanks to his talent and immense support from Maliza Umaskini, the music talent search organisation that discovered, signed and nurtured his career. Around him, Maliza Umaskini built an image of an optimistic young continental star and strived to create the most polished music videos most of which were recorded by the best music video producer in Africa, Godfather.

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Daddy Owen and Papa Dennis [Photo: Chrispen Sechere]

Everyone knew he had a lot of money and owned cars, an image that was cultivated from the videos and photos he and his management posted. Critics, most of whom were from the gospel and media fraternity looked down upon him, some even refusing to play his videos even when they were making rotation on the continental Trace Muzik channel. Even then, he was unstoppable. By the time his contract with Maliza Umaskini ended early last year, Papa Dennis was one of the biggest names in Kenyan showbiz.       

He defended his lifestyle by simply acknowledging that many people who criticised his extravagance, questioning how a former street boy could afford such opulence and simply brushing them off.

"Always the trees that bear fruit are stoned, while the barren ones are not," he said.

So successful and promising was his budding career that during his album launch, the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga graced the occasion with Papa terming him his fan and a personal friend.

Read Also: Five Kenyan musicians who died in unclear circumstances

Raila Odinga during the Wonder album Launch of Papa Dennis(left) at Matunda grounds in Lugari [Photo: Chrispen SEchere]

Papa Dennis' story was one of inspiration and he could boast of an extensive catalogue of hit singles and international collaborations. Papa Dennis worked on several projects with acclaimed artistes including Chindima, Korede Bello and Mr Flavour from Nigeria, Tanzania's Christina Shusho and Ray C as well as Kenyan gospel music legend Daddy Owen.

It still remains a mystery to his friends and fans as to what happened on that fateful Saturday morning when his body was found lying on the road at Pangani where he had been working on his latest studio project all night. The singer had been accompanied by his twin brother Simon Mwangi at Nairobi Records that night – a record stable owned by Papa Dennis’ friend of many days Mash Mjukuu.

Read Also: Papa Dennis could not afford food- Gospel singer Red Pen reveals

Papa Dennis (Left) with Papa Symoh at a shoot in 2016 [Photo: Edward Kiplimo]

Nobody seems to know at what time Papa Dennis disappeared from studio on the ninth floor of the building. In fact, his brother narrates how they called his phone that went unanswered.

"The studio manager Luva called the producer and told him that he had been informed by security guards manning Kirima building that the body of a youthful man resembling Papa Dennis had been found lying on a ground near the building. We rushed out. The caretaker told us that he had heard a thud,” Simon said.

Whether Papa committed suicide or otherwise remains the big unanswered question. 

People close to the late singer agree that he had gone into depression since he left the good life he had been enjoying at Maliza Umaskini. In fact, Pulse reported that late last year. He struggled for money for food and rent. However, the young lad had a big heart and was optimistic of the future. Days before his demise, he had shared his 2020 plans to Pulse which included working on big collaborations and staging shows in America where a friend had been organising for his tours. 

May his Soul Rest in Peace.