Grandmaster Masese

Kenyan poet and musician Grandmaster Masese, real name Dennis Dancan Mosiere, passed away on June 1, 2022.

Grandmaster Masese, real name Dennis Dancan Mosiere, came to prominence when a new poetry scene emerged in Nairobi in the mid-2000s. That scene was centred around the monthly Kwani Open Mic where poets could show off their prowess first at the Yaya Centre and then at Club Soundd on Standard Street. Apart from reciting poetry, Masese played his instrument of choice the Obokano, the eight-stringed lyre of the Gusii people of Western Kenya.

Eventually, he would join up with Inkwa Dennis, Njeri Wangarĩ, and Leon Kiptum to form the Mstari Wa Nne (The Fourth Line) poetry collective. Mstari Wa Nne became a formidable force in the event scene in Nairobi featuring gigs in many before its members got full-time jobs and left.

Masese kept at his poetry and his obokano and gave us his album Grandmaster Masese, the first full-length obokano record in history in 2021. It featured among others Kunal Prakesh (Jeff the Brotherhood, Weather Warlock) on guitar, Tokyo based percussionist and sound artist Samm Bennett (UA, Haco, Elliot Sharp, etc. etc. etc.), Detroit area percussionist Mike List (Dr Pete Larson’s Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band), bassist and synth player Dave Sharp (Dave Sharp Worlds).  

On June 1, he posted on his Facebook, “At Huduma hospital. I developed terrible pains. I have just finished.” This was a day after performing at a local mall and having a meal with friends. His sister Olipha Nyogari announced on the following day that her brother had passed away saying, “It’s so unfortunate to announce to the world the demise of my brother, rest in power my brother.”

It is not clear at the time of writing this report what caused his demise and when it happened.

There has been an outpouring of grief from those who either work with or experience his work or his very down-to-earth and open personality.

We too here at mourn one of the best of us.

Rest in Peace, Grandmaster. Gone too soon.