Kenyan Soldiers Ditch Guns for Drums, Release Hit Song [VIDEO]

  • Members of the Maroon Commandos performing their latest song titled Corona.
    Members of the Maroon Commandos performing their latest song titled Corona.
  • The Kenya Defence Force's (KDF) famous band dubbed 'The Maroon Commandos' shook up the music industry on July 10, after releasing a soulful Rhumba tune titled Corona.

    Despite the title pointing to ' yet another Covid-19 song', the KDF soldiers tune is far from ordinary.

    The group of men, more used to making assault rifles sing to their tune, managed to piece together an infectious melody laced with informative lyrics touching on the global pandemic and how to stay safe.

    One cannot help but sway to the rhythmic composition, which could explain how the song has garnered over 10,000 views on YouTube just 48 hours since it was uploaded on KDF's official page that has a paltry eight thousand followers. 

    Members of the Maroon Commandos performing their latest song titled Corona.
    The Maroon Commandos drummer performing the band's latest song titled Corona.

    Donning military fatigues pressed to military precision complete with navy blue berets, the soldiers immerse themselves completely in the music. Hips sway, Lingala dance steps are redefined and one cannot help but notice the pianist having a time of his life. 

    The Maroon Commandos boast of a rich history that spans back to October 1970.

    At least three nights a week, the group of Kenyan soldiers attached to the 7 Kenya Rifles - an infantry battalion of the Kenya Army based at the Lang'ata barracks, takes a break from the rigorous military routine and just break into soulful music.

    Assault weapons are traded for guitars, trumpets, drumsticks and microphones. Vocal chords more used to barking out orders swiftly switch to belting out soulful music with the veteran-crooner precision.

    For those few hours during practice, there are no ranks, no obligatory salutes, just a group of soldiers united in their love for music.

    Through the years, Maroon Commandos have remained disciplined and consistent in delivering music that cuts across generations.

    The famous band was specifically created to entertain soldiers at military bases around the country. Their soulful renditions were fashioned as bridges to help army men and women stationed in the various outposts connect with the often fast-disappearing memories of home.

    Members of the Maroon Commandos performing their latest song titled Corona.
    Members of the Maroon Commandos performing their latest song titled Corona.

    They moved around from base to base to boost the morale of fellow soldiers, standing resolutely at Kenya's frontline.

    Soon enough, their catchy and infectious songs saw them called to perform at various state functions, including President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Swearing-in Ceremony on November 28, 2017.

    One of the band's most famous members was the late Habel Kifoto, who was also one of the founders of the group.

    He retired from the military and was from 2009 to 2011 the chairman of Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). He died on July 31, 2011, in Nairobi after collapsing due to suspected heart failure.

    The band's critically acclaimed album Kenya Unite was written in the response of the 2007–2008 Kenyan post-election crisis.

    Other albums released by the men in uniform are;

    • Riziki Haivutwi (1977 or later)
    • Dawa Nimuone Hani (1983)
    • Pesa Maradhi Ya Moyo (with Daudi Kabaka) (1986)
    • Hasira ni Hasara (1986)
    • Bila Jasho "Mwakaribishwa na Maroon" (1989)
    • Bonya Kuché (1990)
    • Shikamoo (1991)
    • Shika Kamba (2007)
    • Kenya Unite (2008)
    • Habel Kifoto & Maroon Commandos – Greatest Hits

    Maroon Commandos has been a platform for many army men to pursue their talents in music.

    Uknown to most,  the special group of the 7th Kenya Rifles unit is the only army regiment whose members are allowed to walk into Nairobi, in full military fatigues, without permission from their seniors.

    Margaret Wambui Kenyatta (President Uhuru's Sister) extended this privilege to them, during her tenure as Nairobi's Mayor (1970-1976).

    Maroon Commandos' latest song included a well-placed shout out to the current Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces General Robert Kariuki Kibochi, a man who must be proud of his men in uniform.

    Watch the band's latest song below: