Connect with us

Entertainment

From selling mitumba to benga kingpin

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 4
  •  
  •  
  •  

Usually reserved when it comes to giving media interviews, Ken wa Maria (pictured) is more open on the day we sit down with him. “Ask me everything you would want to as I am here to give you all the time,” he says as we settle down, his face still dripping with sweat after an energetic performance.

“I honestly don’t like interviews simply because most writers don’t bother to do their research and have no background understanding of artistes. They will ask you what is obvious, what has been written before, what everyone knows…so why bother,” he starts.

He sips from his glass and takes a breath as if to make an interlude between a refrain and the next stanza. He looks youthful, you wouldn’t tell that this is an artiste who has been there and done it all in the last two decades he has been in the game.

The Rolex watch on his hand, trendy white rugged pair of trousers and labelled red top attest to his love of class and the fine things in life. And he has worked hard for them, “it’s been 17 years you know!” he says. “The Kamba ideology of fashion that people have is for the olden days. This is the modern age. Besides, fashion is personal, and not even about the music you make or the tribe you come from. My fashion inspiration began with thrift shopping in Gikomba market where I could get original classy wear that would be unique just to me. I hardly shop in ordinary mall stores where you get what everyone else picks…You know ‘Kenyan uniform’. In this life and trade one has to cut their niche. A look can be everything for the next business,” he says.

Mitumba beginnings

Indeed, Gikomba is where his whole hustle started. He ventured into the second-hand clothes (mitumba) trade to make ends meet, before he secured a job as a factory casual labourer – all before the big music breakthrough.

Ken wa Maria takes us down memory lane on benga music, which he says can be traced to cultural origins dating back to 1940. Then, it was about Soukous, South African Kwela, the Congolese finger-style guitar as well as Cuban dance music, all of which heavily influenced the Benga.

By 1960, the Luo had established the nyatiti before the Kambas hit it up with a fast rhythmic fusion of guitar act. It was the age of the LP in which the likes of Kakai Kilonzo and Peter Muambi thrived. That sounds as ancient as ‘The God’s Must be Crazy’ or closer if we may the arrival of ‘The Locomotion’.

Musical roots

Then came the Kamba music bands among them Kalambya Boys, Katitu and Kimangu. And here was Kennedy Wambua Ngunze, for that is Ken wa Maria’s real name, occupying and running in the space with his Yatta Orchestra, formally Yatta Boys Band.

This group had some oomph, but the same could not be said of their music videos.

Everything looked grainy as if filmed against the midday sun. It was everything fused together at the speed of light, literally, the music beat raced against time and adrenaline.

Born to sing, the Fundamentals hit maker had been watching from the periphery and practicing behind the scenes, as Kamba artistes battled for regional supremacy.

Claims of witchcraft hung over the industry like a dark cloud, every misfortune befalling an artiste was quickly pegged down to this.

Ken wa Maria says he knew something needed to change when it comes to the benga beat, how artistes approached music and how fans consumed it. Having seen many die poor after living on the fast-lane that is showbiz, he wanted to approach music more professionally.

Education

“It hit me that education was key in all this. That is why I decided to pursue education beyond high school, the level all the rest seemed to have dropped out. After attending Gitaraka Primary School and then Kangaru School in Embu, I proceeded (for) higher learning. It is a long story that came with many ups and downs but the short of it is that I have attendant St Paul’s University, Strathmore University, USIU-Africa and a UK University for my undergraduate and postgraduate levels,” says the man from Machakos.

He might not have a fight with the much-hyped firebrand regional singers such as Kativui Mwene, Ben Mbatha, Kyaume Boys Band, Kitunguu, Alex Kasau Katombi (Nguuni Lovers Lovers Band), Alphonse Kioko, Maima (Kithungo Raha), Kathekani and Muasa Kineene;  but he hardly discusses them, opting to remain the silent kingpin.

Besides, he has been the springboard for most of them as he is credited for starting the modern day Eastern Benga movement, in which he has coached more than 40 artistes. Even when some try to hit out at him through diss-tracks – a game he can be a master off, he rarely, if ever, ‘claps back’.

“Education gives you knowledge and wisdom, as well as confidence. You become strategic and most, if not all, of your decisions are informed by your goals and long term vision. That way, you don’t let sideshows bother you.

“I know exactly who I am in the industry and where my music and business careers are taking me. My legacy shall be a witness to this,” says the Kavuku Kaingiw’e ni Nzou singer, a rhetorical story of the hare and the elephant – metaphorically directed at wannabees who are pulled up by their friends but soon forget that they need those around them.

“No one held my hand in the musical scene on my way up. I had to work my way up and even did a deep documented research, a 1,500-page report that directed what benga is today. I advised on how to slow the Kamba music beat, made it friendlier, danceable and enjoyable. Back then, the old rich boys could not dance to the fast beat and so the market value for artistes was low.

“There was no discipline among artistes too and so I had to introduce some grooming. Now, artistes are playing their music uptown and those who are smart are making good money through corporate (firms).

“I walk with a feeling of gratification and a posture of an achiever. I feel I’ll be remembered for some generations to come.”

Ever green hits

With about 500 songs recorded and enjoying massive airplay as well as online downloads, Ken wa Maria, who enjoys his Tusker or Black Label whiskey while generously treating fans and friends, has invested heavily in music.

From the hilarious pun-intendent Wakatimba Pumbavu, Pendo La Lazima; the lady adoring Miss Musembi, Mpenzi Cherono, Syindu Sya Mutongoi Ndanu and Rita Amepata Mwingini and Lazima Nimuoe Pamela Jelimo; the politically slanted Kalonzo Ika Nesa and Masinena as well as club dance hits like Asante Mashambiki, Fundamentals, Wasikuku and Yatta Nivumite, it looks like he can sing about anything and anyone.

He has penned songs in praise of Barrack Obama and Lupita Nyongo, floods, diseases and world catastrophes.

His latest project is called Corona, as would be expected.

“My latest album is Kelitu ka Corona, an instalment that has eight songs. It is themed around the corona pandemic and how the pandemic has affected lives and the way the world operates. I am in the process of shooting the music videos…. Calamities offer opportunities and music can address any situation on earth,” he says with a grin.

Turning adversity into success has been the hallmark of his success, since when he started off singing in a Catholic Church back in Yatta when he was young. He says through music, he acts as a mouth piece for many – addressing societal issues from social engagements to thorny political dilemmas, especially those touching on his community.

Politics and controversy

But not all of his songs have earned him praises. Being the politician he his, attempts at  delving into political battles in his home county of Machakos and some lyrics to his songs have left him politically and musically bruised and with sworn enemies.

In 2013, the singer became a key strategist in Kalonzo Musyoko’s presidential campaigns. He was also quietly being groomed for active politics.

Come 2017, he had his sights set on a seat at the Machakos County Assembly after winning the Matuu Ward Wiper ticket. Then he had fallen out with the Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua – who had now formed the ChapChap political movement and begun to wrestle Kalonzo’s Wiper party for control of Machakos.

The intricacies that followed were going to be Ken wa Maria’s political undoing. Unknown to many, Ken wa Maria had been appointed into the Machakos Country music, culture and the arts board Machawood alongside other influential personalities – mostly in the creative industry.

After a short stint, Ken wa Maria resigned from the board, and many believe that that that is where his split with Alfred Mutua started. At some point, the musician was arrested and for long, he was barred from performing on any stage in Machakos County.

“When Machakos County government came into being in 2013, I was part of the government. (Governor Alfred) Mutua was in Wiper Party but since Kalonzo Musyoka was the party leader, I always followed what he said and his word was that I support Mutua for the governorship. My resignation from the Machawood board had to do with me focusing on business. The differences that were playing between him (Mutua) and Kalonzo adversely affected my political fate. I lost the 2017 elections for that reason,” he says.

“I never gave up. I am running for the senator position in Machakos come 2022 and I know I will triumph. I have teamed up with the right people, I have the connections, the papers, the numbers and financial muscle not to mention the leadership skills and will to be a people’s servant. The time is now here,” he says.

Taking another sip, Ken wa Maria’s face lights up as he launches into another animated interlude. The camera clicks and he gladly swings with ease to every requested pose. In-between ,he cracks a joke, asking if he should try a hand in journalism.

On retirement

We inquire how much he is worth, his taste in cars and when he would retire from music. Word is that he has investments in the Coast and that he runs a trucks freight business across East Africa.

“Now you want to write a whole book about me I can see, but why not. Good ground work,” replies the father of two.

“For now, what I can tell you is that I run an automobile business and do business across the region. Besides, I have been selling cars for the last 15 years, that is basically almost all the time I have been in music. I also do poultry business, working with farmers and traders across counties. I have some businesses in Malindi and a few clients there whom I check from time to time,” he says, guarded.

“You guys do know what I drive, a number of sports cars. A man has to enjoy his sweat so I do my leisure holidays in Dubai and mostly Germany where I have my other interests. That should be juicy enough,” he laughs.

As for when he thinks he will hang his boots, he says: “I am a very open person when it comes to building on my vision and if Koffi Olominde, who is 64, is still making music, why can’t I keep going?”

by Standardmedia.co.ke


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 4
  •  
  •  
  •  
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entertainment

‘I regret…’ Anne Kiguta opens up about posting her daughter on social media

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  

TV news anchor Anne Kiguta has announced that she would like to share with her fans more about her life.

However, she draws a line on exposing her children to the limelight.

Anne has three children, one from her previous marriage and fraternal twins with Jomo Gecaga.

Responding to a fan who asked her about her babies, Anne posted a photo of her and her twins but blocked out the faces.

In her response she explained,

“Gosh, so many of you have said this… was the number one response. Well, I will have to let you down on that my loves.”

She added,

“I’m rather traditional (believe it or not) so I’m vehemently against it. My babies are are all still too young, including the eldest, to be on social media.”

Anne continued,

“In fact I really regret having posted my eldest at all. Mummy already has a pretty public life. They deserve their privacy.”

But not to break her fans hearts, Anne promised,

“A reference every once in a while but nothing more than that for a long long time.  Hope  you understand.”

In another post she still emphasized,

“That is my son. Quite the charmer. If only I could tell you half of what they say! But all these are are to me sacred moments…really can’t share much more.”

Not to be daunted though, Anne promised to talk about other aspects of her life.

Here are the various topics she is open to talking about.

By Mpasho.co.ke


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Entertainment

Remembering Pepe Kalle 22 years after his death

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  

Arrangements are in place for fans and counterparts to next week mark the 22rd anniversary since the death of Congolese musician Pepe Kalle Yampanya.

The burly baritone voiced singer who collapsed and died on November 29, 1998 in Kinshasa will be remembered as one of the entertainment greats with his Grand Empire Band.

Most of his fans will remember him for some of his popular tunes like ‘Roger Milla’: (dedicated to Cameroonian soccer legend Roger Milla), ‘Moyibi’, ‘Pon Moun Paka Bouge’, ‘Bitoto’ and ‘Amour Pedre’.

Notably, he recorded several collaborations with his long-time counterpart Nyboma Mwandido, who lives in Paris, France. Both had performed together in the early 1970s in Kinshasa.

Though there are no special shows arranged due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some of his former band members including the Kinshasa-based Lofombo Godo will dedicate online shows to him. Lofombo, who is a bass guitarist and producer, also had a stint with the Delta Force band.

Most of the former band members of the Grand Empire Bakuba settled in Europe after Kalle’s death. Among them were Papy Tex (of the ‘Kanda ya Nini’ hit song fame), Elvis Kunku, Ebuya Doris Djuna Mumbafu and Kinanga Boeing.

Back home, fans of Pepe Kalle will also recall his efforts of incorporating dancing midgets like Ayilla Emoro, Jolie Bebe and Dominic Mabwa in the   stage act of the Empire band.

In Kenya, fans of Pepe Kalle will remember the many tours he made to Kenya from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.  Among the towns he performed include Nairobi and Kisumu.

Meanwhile, The Oyster Bay at Valley Arcade in Nairobi will tomorrow host the Acoustic, Brunch, Bubbly and Jazz show. It will feature special performances by

and Aaron Rimbui.

For the two seasoned afro Jazz musicians, it will be an opportunity to showcase their latest and earlier hit songs. Atemi is known for some of her songs like ‘Someday’, ‘Nairobi’, ‘Imenibamba’ and ‘Kama We’.

As for Aaron, who specialises in the piano and keyboard, some of his popular songs are ‘Simama’, ‘Hafungi Macho’, ‘Karibu’ and ‘Freedom’.  The show starts at 11am and ends at 8pm. According to the organisers, all Covid-19 safety protocols will be observed during the show.

Event has been sponsored by Classic FM and Smooth FM, in conjunction with Oyster Bay. Entrance is Sh3,500 per person (Inclusive of Brunch and Champagne).

Meanwhile, veteran Ohangla musician Tony Nyadundo will next Friday perform during a special Ohangla show at the Treasure Gardens in Kilimani, Nairobi (Opposite Kilimani Primary School).  Nyadundo’s hit songs include ‘Ndoa ya Machozi’ and ‘Isanda Gi Hera’. It will be a welcome back show to his fans after a long break. Show starts at 2pm and ends at 8pm.

-Nation.africa


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 2
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Entertainment

Jacque Maribe: I suffered two miscarriages before I got my son

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  

BY OLIVIA MUNGWANA

Former Citizen TV news anchor and media personality Jacque Maribe says she lost two pregnancies before she got her son Zahari.
Zahari’s father is comedian Eric Omondi.
In an interview with True Love Magazine, Ms. Maribe said she battled infertility and suffering miscarriages was tough for her as she did not know what was wrong.

What made things worse and what made the media personality think she would never get a child was a disclosure by the doctors that she had suffered from the septate.
A septate uterus is a deformity of the uterus, which happens during fetal development before birth. A membrane called the septum divides the inner portion of the uterus, at its middle.

The condition was to be fixed through surgery but luckily she did not go through it.
“We were lucky we found out earlier so I was told I had to undergo surgery to get rid of it and give ourselves a period and wait and now the baby would have at least enough space to carry to maybe 30 something weeks and don’t have to get to 40. I remember I panicked and I said I’m not gonna do this,” she said.

“It took a while, I can’t remember how many years it was and every day I used to pray and ask God ‘what is too hard for you? I don’t have to have this surgery if you want you can make that thing elastic by whatever miracle but just make it elastic, create space.”


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Special Offer: Own one starting at Ksh 3.7M


poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2020 Calendar

November 2020
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending