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MICROPHONE [PHOTO | COURTESY]

‘It was 20 minutes of horror’: 15 Kenyan artistes’ close shave with death

BY RAHMA RASHID IN LAMU COUNTY.

Fifteen Kenyan musicians – pooled from Mombasa and Lamu – escaped death narrowly in Lamu County on Monday afternoon, when a speed boat they were aboard soaked in water to its blige.

The artistes, belonging to Kwa Ishara Modern Taarab Band, were on their way – via the Indian Ocean – to Kiwayu Island from Kizingitini in Lamu County to entertain Governor Fahim Twaha and his followers following the upholding of his 2017 poll victory by the Supreme Court.

Last Wednesday, the apex court dismissed former Governor Issa Timamy’s appeal, citing lack of merit.

And, in a bid to celebrate that much-relieving win, Mr Twaha organised a party, which saw him invite the 15 Taarab singers to thrill his followers.

The speed boat, which the musicians were traveling in, hit a rock, causing its bottom sheet to crack, and, as a result, took in water.

The occupants had loaded into the vessel public address speakers, food materials, and electrical wiring tools, which significantly increased the weight in the boat.

According to one of the Kwa Ishara band members, Fakurdhin Hashim, heavy tides in the ocean further made it hard to steer the boat, which was already taking in copious amounts of water.

Mr Hashim said they “do not know” when or where the boat’s surface hit a rock that cracked its bottom.

The entertainer further claims the vessel was overloaded, consequently catalysing the process in which water got into it.

A speed boat, according to the maritime authority, should carry not more than nine passengers at a time.

Upon realising that they were not going to make it to the shore alive – should the then-water absorption pattern continue –, the skipper switched off the engine and asked those who could swim to jump into the water and push it slowly toward the shore.

“Had we traveled with the engine running, we couldn’t have made it to the shore alive,” said Mr Hashim.

The boat occupants had to move from the back end of the boat, which was filled with water.

“They just had to relocate to the frontal part of the boat, which was yet to soak in water. That helped in spreading the weight evenly, resulting in a near-balance of the vessel, making it easy for it to be pushed toward the shore,” said Mr Hashim.

That journey lasted 20 minutes, which the musicians say “was the longest, most nervous and terrifying moment of our lives”.

“Some of the occupants, especially women, resorted to prayers, urging God to save their lives. That 20-minute journey was very scary,” said Mr Hashim.

Upon reaching Kiwayu Island, the party continued, though with little pomp and excitement, given fresh memories of the artistes’ earlier close shave with death.

Prior to the Kiwayu concert, the band had performed in Amu and Kizingitini islands.

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