In Summary
  • Initially named Bonanza, the store was founded by Karim’s father P. Daudia in 1962.
  • Melodica is the only music shop in the city in modern times where one can still purchase a record player.
  • To music lovers, musicians of a certain age and historians, Melodica music shop is more than a shop; it is akin to a museum.

For years, the music has been part of the general ambience; the street chatter out of the quick staircase. The music, mostly slow rhumba, oldies accompanying the clop of hurrying shoes and the din of downtown Nairobi, while through the window, past the decals, was a display of instruments, modern and traditional: palm-hide drums, guitars, drum sets, even a phonograph.

A classic life-size poster of Jimi Hendrix live at Fillmore East stadium in New York stands out in the background.

But for the past few months — until only recently when the Melodica music shop, located in Elimu House near the intersection of Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala streets recouped most of its footing — its rhythm, the music has been missing. The shop itself is hidden from view behind a cordon of iron roofing sheet.

According to Abdul Karim, the owner, it all began when the management of the building began construction on the topmost floor.

Everything was fine until an iron roofing sheet wall was erected along the length of the building, blocking the entrance to the business premises. The turn of events would lead to a protracted court case, with Melodica and other business owners petitioning the erection of the wall, arguing that the wall should have been put up in the frontage of the floor under renovation as there was enough room. Losses were mounting as a result of the blockage.

The wall has since been pulled down under orders from the Nairobi County court, and the refurbishment suspended.


One night in early August, disaster struck when robbers attacked the music shop. When the pillage ended — after police arrived and the robbers fled — vintage record players were gone, others damaged. The destruction was indiscriminate — cassette tapes, records, some dating back to the 1960s — littered the floor, shattered. Guitars and other instruments no longer hang on the walls.

Thankfully, much of the collection of rare, vintage vinyl records and other musical memorabilia locked in the library in the back room remained untouched.

“Of course there was a lot of concern among our customers,” says Karim. “This whole debacle has led to a lot of loss of revenue. The break-in was devastating, but luckily we have a backup of our library.”

The attack, Karim believes, was both a case of robbery and malice.

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