Maroon Commandos


The Journey started in 1969 when the first CO (Commanding Officer) of 7KR (7th Battalion Kenya Rifles) Lt. Col. J.M.M Wambua came up with the idea of forming a music band within his unit. He wanted to improve the music performance of his (Drum) Platoon and at the same time start a performing dance band. He tasked an officer in his command, Cpt. Muchemi, to look for youngsters with musical abilities who would be recruited into the army.

Cpt. Muchemi embarked on the search which brought him to Bamboo night club then in River road Nairobi, where he met Habel Kifoto and the Strollers bands. The Strollers band who were by then a popular band that also performed at Small World Night Club, consisted of neighbourhood friends who lived at the Kenya Railways Cooperation staff quarters in Makongeni. They were Habel Kifoto, David Kibe, Juma Kizito, Ibrahim Ringo, Shem Shisia and Tony Sobayeni. Cpt. Muchemi convinced the young men and recruited them into The Army.

After nine months of training, the six young men graduated into the Military and were posted to the 7KR in Gilgil. In 1970, October 1st, the group officially took on the name, Maroon Commandos, derived from their regiment standard. During that period the band played cover versions of popular soul, blues, rumba and twist.

In 1971 Maroon Commandos signed with PolyGram Studio and recorded two original songs, one of which was "Emily" composed by Ibrahim Ringo. The song received massive success which prompted them to perform beyond the confines of the military and travelled to major towns in the country and entertained people in various institutions and private events. During one such trip in August 1972, the band was involved in a terrible road accident after performing at Egerton University, which lead to the death of some of its members.

In 1973, Maroon Commandos band and the entire 7th Battalion relocated from Gilgil to Nairobi Langata Barracks, which remains their home and station to date.

The devastation of losing members in the road accident saw the band take a downward spiral for almost five years. It wasn't until the recruitment of Hamisi Shaban and Paul Mwandembo in 1977, and Laban Ochuka and Tuesday Oguro in 1978, that the bands fortunes turned again. By 1978 under the leadership of Habel Kifoto, the band had developed a unique sound evident in the release of their chart bursting number "Charonyi Ni Wasi". Written and composed by Kifoto, the song sold thousands of copies across East Africa which earned the band the coveted Silver Disc.

They followed this success with other successful and popular numbers both on radio and TV; "Uvivu Mbaya" and "Usiniambie Unaenda". These propelled Maroon Commandos to a household name and earned its place as a formidable Kenyan band. All their music have attained classical status in Kenyan music.

Maroon Commandos is now 50 years old and has seen over 5 generations of musicians joining its rank and file who continue to carry on the traditions...


Maroon Commandos is a popular Kenyan band from the 7th Battalion Kenya Rifles of the Kenya Defence Forces. The band has ben in existence since 1969 and continues to perform and entertain audiences from all generations with their unique brand of rumba

We recently performed at the Alliance Française de Nairobi. Here is ne of our most popular numbers, Charonyi ni Wasi from that performance.


KENairobi, Kenya
In operation since: 


Ssgt. Johnie Magneto

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7th Annual ONGEA