Nation Lifestyle

Lady Maureen’s legacy of brilliant music despite prolonged suffering


By RUSHDIE OUDIA

By IAN BYRON

From imprisonment in a foreign country, incessant bashing on social media to neglect by close family members and friends, Ohangla musician Maureen Achieng’, popularly known as Lady Maureen, breathed her last Saturday morning, ending months of suffering.

And, as usual, the unending debate and discussion on how friends, government and colleagues should treat artistes and sportsmen better continued even as tributes continued to pour in from the politicians she sang for and praised as well as fans who took selfies with her in her hey days.

The family initially stated that her illness started weeks after she was released from a Tanzanian prison in 2018, where she was jailed together with other 15 band members.

They were charged and held in prison for two weeks for working in Tanzania without permits, a claim Lady Maureen said was aimed at tarnishing her image.

LM2

Lady Maureen.

In February, Lady Maureen was stranded at a Kisumu hospital after being discharged.

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Ms Nancy Achieng’, who was taking care of the musician in hospital, claimed that the singer’s mother Margaret Akinyi was reluctant to take her in following a family misunderstanding that had existed for years. The mother denied the claim.

Ms Achieng’ offered to take care of Lady Maureen after reading singer Akothe’s Facebook post asking someone to help the ‘Wangni Wabiro’ hit composer.

The songstress passed on at 3am Saturday at her cousin’s home in Uriri, Migori, where she was recuperating after she was discharged from hospital last week. The body has been transferred to Ojele Memorial Hospital in Migori Town as the family plans for burial.

According to Lady Maureen’s cousin Ms Bella Achieng, the musician was discharged from hospital on Monday and she seemed to be out of danger but she developed breathing complications before convulsing, Ms Achieng told the Nation.

The musician had been admitted to Pastor Machage Memorial Hospital on the outskirts of Migori last month, before being transferred to Ojele Memorial where she showed remarkable improvement.

Since the beginning of the year, she has been in and out of various hospitals battling different kinds of ailments. In June, she was diagnosed with severe anaemia and malaria and was rushed to Pastor Machage Hospital for treatment.

BACK PAIN

According to her mother, the musician had complained of back pain, which she said had destabilised her mobility.

For a long time, she could hardly walk and had to be supported and sometimes use wheelchairs.

In 2018, she underwent a surgery at St Francis hospital in Nairobi where she was diagnosed with hypertension and low blood pressure.

Musicians and well-wishers then marshalled resources to have the musician treated.

Ms Achieng said that initial plans to have the body transferred to St Joseph’s Omboo Mission Hospital were shelved after administrators maintained that the body could only stay at the facility for two days.

The family is trying to avoid what happened during the burial of another Ohangla musician, Mr Benard Onyango, popularly known as Abenny Jachiga. He was laid to rest at 2am following a day of chaos.

The family has also called on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party to come to their aid and secure a burial place for their daughter.

According to Maureen’s father Mr Joanne’s Odero, the family is struggling to raise funds to secure a burial site for their daughter.

“Her death has occurred at a time when we are experiencing a serious cash crunch and going by the Luo community traditions, it is a taboo to have her remains interred at the father’s compound, forcing us to look for an alternative burial site,” said Mr Odero.

THREE-YEAR AILMENT

He added the Kogalo hit-maker would possibly be laid to rest outside their home should the family fail to secure a burial site.

Mrs Akinyi told the Nation that the death of her 38-year-old daughter had left them desolate after spending the family’s resources on treatment during her three-year ailment.

“Lady Maureen did her best for the ODM party, including Mr Odinga and several senior politicians. She was also a staunch supporter of Gor Mahia FC. It is on this note that we plead with the party and other well-wishers to come to our rescue,” Mrs Akinyi said at her home in Kopanga village, Migori County.

Her younger brother, Brian Otieno, who is a budding reggae musician, said Maureen mentored her before she fell ill with a promise to help him release his first album.

“My elder sister was my greatest source of inspiration but it’s sad that she left at a time when she had a lot of plans in store for me,” said Mr Otieno.

Apart from Jachiga and Lady Maureen, the Luo Music fraternity also lost Benga Musician Erick Odit, also known as Omondi Long Lilo, who was buried a week after Jachiga was laid to rest.

Following her demise, ODM leader Raila Odinga led a host of politicians, including governor Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu), Okoth Obado (Migori) and Senators James Orengo (Siaya), Ochilo Ayacko (Migori) and woman representative Pamela Odhiambo in sending condolence messages to the family. Their tributes have, however, been criticised by many who feel they did not do enough to help the songbird.



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