Kenyans are mourning the death of Kenyan-born British folk singer and expert whistler Roger Whittaker, who is especially famed locally for his 1982 hit song My Land is Kenya.
Whittaker, who has died at 87, was born in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to English parents.
He spent two years of national service fighting the then-rebel Kenya Land and Freedom Army, or Mau Mau, before becoming a teacher. When he moved to the UK, he began playing guitar and singing in folk clubs.
He sold nearly 50 million records around the world during his decades-long music career, according to his website.
But in Kenya it is the song about where he was born and grew up that is most well-known – it is often played on TV during national holidays alongside other patriotic songs.
In My Land in Kenya, he praises “the land I love… the land I was born” with some heartfelt lines:
My land is Kenya, so warm and wild and free
You’ll always stay with me here in my heart
My land is Kenya, right from your highlands to the sea
You’ll always stay with me here in my heart, here in my heart
“[Roger Whittaker] has left behind a remarkable piece of art that is truly worth emulating. As Kenya celebrates 60 years of independence this year, Roger Whittaker will forever be a part of our musical history,” Edward Mwasi said on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
“May he Rest in Peace, he wrote beautiful music with heartfelt lyrics, including The Last Farewell and My Land is Kenya,” former foreign affairs permanent secretary Macharia Kamau said.