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VIDEO-Irungu Kang’ata-How I fell in love with reggae



He is the Deputy Chief Whip of Senate. He is a PhD student at the University of Nairobi and a full time lecturer at Catholic University. His law firm, located in swanky Upper Hill next to the Japanese Embassy, is top-notch dealing with major corporations in Kenya.

But he is a reggae fan, music associated with uneducated and rough ghetto youth.

Meet Irungu Kang’ata, the 40-year-old father of three who is the current Muranga Senator. He is known for fighting for the poor. His Facebook account is full of ideas which can assist the vulnerable during this Covid-19 pandemic. Most have been adopted by the Government.

It includes a proposal he made to have top civil servants dedicate part of the salaries to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. He was the first one to propose parliament that travel budget should be redirected towards the fight against the pandemic, which Senate speaker recently adopted.

He is celebrated by many for the numerous free medical camps that he has held in various parts of Muranga.

He is a devout Catholic who always attends church. His friends say he is very gifted academically. They say he always topped in high school where he scored a mean grade A in KCSE but never one to do a ‘trans-night’ reading.

Kang’ata’s wedding was graced by His Excellency President Uhuru while Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have attended his other social functions.

Nairobi News caught up with him recently for an exclusive One on One interview.

How did you fall in love with reggae?

“I was raised in Muranga town in a low-income neighborhood .The genre was popular among male youths in the neighborhood. I was academically minded and good in history. When I got to standard 6, I became very good in history. We then learned about injustice in South Africa meted upon blacks. In standard 7 we learned about slavery. I then asked myself, how come other genres weren’t concerned about that injustice? How come other pop stars in South Africa like Pat Shange, Chicco, and Yvonne Chaka Chaka didn’t sing about that injustice except for reggae artistes? I realized these Jamaican singers weren’t even from Africa!

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I realized it’s music with a conscience. That made me switch strongly to the genre. Of course, my elder brothers, who loved the genre, particularly two who passed on (Mindo and Michael), did influence me also. But it was more about its message.

You were once a reggae hype man. Shed more light on that

I joined the University of Nairobi in 1999. Being a great fan of the Reggae Time program airing at KBC English Radio back then, I decided to visit its studio which neighbours UON. The idea was just to send “greetings” to my pals back in Muranga and friends in UON but Jeff Mwangemi instead gave me a chance to attend recording and pass “big ups” live on the radio. We became friends and by that, I started inviting him for gigs in my town (Muranga). When I was suspended in 2000 due to student leadership politics, I decided to become a DJ to get myself busy. By sheer good luck, that endeavor endeared me to youths who then elected me as a Councillor in 2002.

You mingle freely with citizens at reggae events. How comes you are never in the VIP section despite your status?

I don’t have an answer really. I think that’s how his genre is meant to be – Equality and Love. Though I no longer attend many reggae events as before as I am now a family man with three children to care for.

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Who is your favourite reggae artiste and song?

Peter Tosh. His song I will not give up. He sings that he will not give up until Africa and Africans are free. He says Africa is the richest place but it has the poorest race. He says being poor is a shame and we are not lame. And that is why he will not give up because the slave driver doesn’t want Africa betterment. I live by that message.

What is the best reggae concert you have ever attended and the worst?

Culture’s (Joseph Hill) first show at the Ngong Racecourse in 2007 was big. It was very well attended and he played his best songs. I was happy to see Burning Spear at Kasarani in the same year but he didn’t play good songs. It seems he wasn’t well advised by his promoters.

Who is your best Kenyan reggae deejay and why?

DJ Ronny Boy. He has a very good taste of music and very good mixing styles. Ghetto Radio’s DJ Double Trouble and DJ Bling have a good taste of music as well but they talk too much. Most DJs have two problems. First, they play the music that they love, not what the people want. Second, they play songs for a few seconds. They don’t give ample time to songs to run.

What is that one thing you’d wish to change in the Kenyan reggae industry?

Concert promoters need some training. Some promote their shows using social media or one station and think that’s enough. They forget that media has become too fragmented hence one needs a variety of publicity tools to mobilize. Best shows demand support by at least one mainstream media group.

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Secondly, they seem not to know who commercially viable artists are. For me, a good artiste in this era needs to have videos. Finally, they must know the core values of this genre. They are about simplicity, spreading peace and love, fighting for the poor and oppressed. And talking about Africa. And recalling great men, like Marcus Garvey, Reverend Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta and other great leaders who fought for the emancipation of the black man. If the genre moves away from these principles, it loses its uniqueness and allure.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievements so far?

I thank God I have served as a student leader at University of Nairobi, Councillor at Muranga Municipal Council as a university student, Member of Parliament and now Senator.

In my legal practice, my most redefining case was when I successfully represented Rebbecca Kerubo, a poor guard, against the then Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza. It was a case of David and Goliath that embedded constitutional principles of equality before the law.

As an MP, we lobbied government and several roads were tarmacked in Kiharu Constituency. We did key water projects and ensured fairness in bursaries allocations. We rode on this platform and Kiharu gave us the greatest support when we went for Senatorial elections.

As a senator, I successfully moved a bill that seeks to establish a ward development bill in the senate. It got stuck in the National assembly though I am happy the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has taken up the proposal. If passed, it will address several developmental gaps that exist in devolution, including governors’ tendencies to do skewed development in counties.

By Nairobi News

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KCB closes branch after envoy collapses and dies



Kenya Commercial Bank has shut down one of its main branches after a South Sudanese envoy collapsed and died.

Confirming the Thursday afternoon incident KCB, in a statement, said it had opted to close KCB Advantage center at Kencom House along Moi avenue indefinitely.

The bank revealed that it had already reported to police the matter involving 66-year-old Michael Nyang Jook, the South Sudanese ambassador to Eritrea.

“We regret to confirm that a customer at our KCB Advantage Branch, Moi Avenue, Nairobi collapsed and died this afternoon during a visit to the branch. The incident was reported to the police, and they took over the matter,” the statement read in part.

According to the police report, the ambassador collapsed after complaining he was experiencing difficulty in breathing.

The incident was reported at the Central Police Station under OB/22/102020.

On the shutdown, KCB said, “We encourage our customers to visit our other Advantage Centres or use alternative banking touchpoints such as cash recyclers, ATMs, cash deposit machines, Mobi, KCB M-Pesa, Vooma and internet banking.”

The KCB management also sent message of condolences to the family of the deceased.

“We condole and stand with the family during this difficult time,” the statement concluded.

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Othuol Othuol’s final journey commences at KNT



The late comedian Ben Maurice Onyango alias Othuol Othuol, who passed on while receiving treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), will be laid to rest on Saturday at Got Gaga village, Ndere in Alego, Siaya County.

Comedians In Kenya Society chairman Ken Waudo said the hearse carrying the late Churchill Show rib cracker left Chiromo Mortuary on Friday morning for its first stopover at the Kenya National Theatre (KNT) Tree Yard for the first funeral service.

The funeral service, Waudo said, is being held while strictly observing Covid-19 restrictions before the body commences the journey to his Siaya final resting place.

“We would like to thank all friends, family and fans who stood with us, as well as all the entertainment fraternity, more so comedians, with a special mention to Churchill and Jalang’o for their immense support and being on the frontline to mourn greatly our colleague. Also political leaders who came in handy,” said Waudo.

On Wednesday evening, Kenyan comedians held a candlelit vigil at KNT for the late comedian led by Churchill and Jalang’o and which also acted as a fundraiser.

The comedians were also joined by a section of celebrities from different sectors as well as the fallen comedian’s fans as they also sought to offset his burial expenses.

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According to Waudo, the funeral committee had put a budget of Sh1 million to cater for all the burial expenses and to offset Othuol’s debts.

The comedian died at the age of 31.


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Mwangi Mukami: Kenyan man who scored D+ in KCSE earns his 5th degree in US



Mwangi Mukami has shared his inspirational story on how he had achieved academic success in the United States (US) years after he was considered a failure by the Kenyan education system.

Mukami scored a D+ in his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams and had no chance of joining any institution of higher learning in the country.

Sharing his story on his Facebook page, he said an opportunity to leave the country for the US restored his dreams of attaining a college or university education.

“Over 20 years ago, Kenya’s education system wrote me off as a failure because I had a D+,” he narrated.

“I remember vividly saying to my peers that I wanted to be a policymaker or an attorney. Their response was a burst of collective laughter and sneer,” he added.

Focused on his goal, Mukami did not waste any time when he arrived in the US. He immediately went back to school to pursue his dreams.

Now aged 36, the young man has recently graduated with his fifth degree from the University of California and hopes he will live long to open doors of opportunities to more D+ students.

Mwangi Mukami: Kenyan man who scored D+ in KCSE earns his 5th degree in US

Mwangi Mukami with his mother during a graduation ceremony. Photo: Mwangi Mukami.
Source: Facebook

“For the misfits, the rejected, and the oppressed,” he said.

He attributed his success to his mother who raised him and his six siblings single-handedly while selling unspecified things at the Kawangware market.

“Congratulations to my mom. The degree is a reflection of her tenacity. I am grateful and honoured to have wonderful brothers and sisters who support and trust my ability to achieve,” he added.

He further noted that he proudly uses his mother’s middle name – Mukami- as his surname because she was his hero

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According to Mukami, his mother sacrificed a lot to ensure they got a decent education, had food to eat even during difficult situations and that they had the nest childhood.

Mukami said whatever they lacked in material wealth was compensated by what they possessed in spiritual, mental, and emotional health.

“I was raised in a ten by twelve foot house by a woman who believed I could change the world. And I am still changing the world,” he said.

The 36-year-old went on to reveal that for three years now, he had been providing scholarships and relief grants to children in Kawangware and most recently, in Kibera and Mathare. previously reported of a young medic who defied all odds to achieve her dream careers just to prove wrong a family friend who discouraged her from studying.

Ifeyinwa Ezeudu is a medical doctor, pharmacists, science laboratory technician, weight management coach, nutrition and lifestyle coach.

Ezeudu said she was discouraged from pursuing her career choices because she was a Muslim girl.


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