After several years in the musical backwaters, Ohangla singer, Musa Jakadalla 27, has finally reached the top, whipping the charts with hits, Hera Remo, Nyar Ahero and Nyar Siaya among others.
It is a cool Thursday evening as I strode into Skyworld Bar and Restaurant along Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala junction in Nairobi.
I climbed the flight of stairs that led to the first floor where the restaurant is located. Along the winding corridors I brushed shoulders with revelers who were either going or leaving the spot.
Two men stood by the club entrance. They were not bouncers. All they required was one dig deep into their pockets and part with Sh400 which was the prize of the ticket to watch the new Ohangla maestro Musa Jakadalla who has established a fixture with the venue every Thursdays.
“Kuingia ni Sh400 siste,”one of the men, who was stocky with a ready smile on his face said without looking at my face.
He was busy pointing and counting at the piles of beer brands stocked in different colored crates resting on the right corner of the entrance.
His other accomplice was already waiting with a stamp which he was eager to rubberstamp on my hand.
“I am Jakadalla’s guest,” I explained myself to them.
“Are you Caro…? Caroline Nyanga of Standard Newspaper?” the stocky man enquired with a grin.
“Yes,” I said.
“Kindly entre, we have been waiting for you,” he said as he ushered me in and took me to a reserved table on the left side of the restaurant.
Even though I had not met Jakadalla before I could easily tell the musician who was gracing the stage was not him.
I waited for Jakadalla’s turn. In the process I started to imagine what kind of musician he is.
“Is he tall, fat? how old is he?” my mind lost in a reverie as I calculated imaginary numbers on my head to derived his actual age.
I concluded he was 40.How wrong was I!!
I was brought back to reality with ululations and cheers that suddenly deafened the club.
Jakadalla had strode into the stage. I quickly glanced at my watch, it was 9pm. The crowd went crazy as Jakadalla tested the mic.
His voice was iconic. His slender frame brought out the fitness in him, molded by many years of performance as a dancer and singer.
I soon realized I had a total different perception of Jakadalla, he was a young energetic man who had an amazing stage presence.
Even his dressing was different as he was putting on a casual outfit rather than the traditional hide and skin attire common with old Ohangla singers.
“Aah bebi…Aah Nyasiaya,”Jakadalla started out by belting Nyar Siaya, a number that goes on to mention all the tribulations they passed through before he came out a warrior in life.
The stage is now full to the brim, short people could only breath by facing up. The song reaches climax after six minutes and hell is let loose.
“Chunya gombo neni edala…Jahera chunya gombo nibi edala,”Jakadalla sang in a pacey, wicked flare.
The stage is busy now and full with men dancing with their women, men gyrating their side dishes, dry spelled men dancing with themselves, women competition with other women on the dance floor. The aura is electric. The house is thick with sweat.
If you are a diehard fan of his genre, you will concur with me that Hera Remo (love is thick) and Nyar Ahero (Daughter of Ahero) are Jakadalla’s best ever hits that catapulted him to fame.
After a two hour nonstop performance that left fans dripping in their sweat Jakadalla decided to join me at where I was seated.
Before he sat down he changed his mind and instructed that we proceed to the VIP.
“This is where you will have a better view of the stage,” he said with a wide entertaining smile. The stage was indeed grand from this viewpoint.
“Wow, you are such an amazing entertainer, how did you come to be a force to reckon with in this industry?” I enquired.
“I am inspired by the daily happenings in my life, I piled these and puts them in form of flowing poetry. I have no any other better way than to put them into music in order to pass the message to the society.”
Jakadalla reveals his success emanates from his total discipline both in and out stage.
“I do a lot of planning and preparations before I step on stage with my dancers, I always wants to give my fans more than they deserve,” he quipped.
Jakadalla, whose real name is Moses Odhiambo Obok says he endured seven years of performance in dingy zones before he finally met his breakthrough.
“I began as a lead vocalist performing with The Blaze Africa band founded and headed by Agoddy Mayaka and the late Odongo Mayaka at Club Village Kayole in 2010.”
“In 2013 I released a debut single Nyar Ahero before opting to quit and formed my own band comprising six members based at Jodalla’s club Dandora,” the father of two explains.
To show how their struggle was real, Jakadalla recalls sometimes performing to empty seats simply because he was unknown.
Their first ever paid was Sh6000 per performance of which they used Sh2500 to hire musical equipment.
Not willing to give up on his dreams, Jakadalla released his debut album Nyiri Dwaro Ang’o ( What do girls want) – and followed it with Nyar Siaya - (Daughter of Siaya) that saw their popularity rise.
“We started to perform in different clubs within Dandora and were paid nearly triple what we earned initially. This motivated us and we decided to add four more dancers to our group. As our popularity rose we decided to move to the CBD where we luckily sealed deals to perform at various clubs among them Nyanza, GEO and Skyworld.”
Since then, it appears, there is no stopping Jakadalla who has been on high demand within the CBD where he has added Club Nectar to his list of venues where he do his jig every Wednesday.
During weekends, the band that has grown to 18 members is currently staging shows at various venues in Nairobi and other towns.
The band is currently comprised of Asam Salad, John Paul, Ochieng, Ayano, Ouma, Ken, Jeff, Jageyo, Obonyo, Wicky, Atis, Kawiti, Dogo B, Choco, Benga, Willy and Caleb.
Despite the raining success, Jakadalla admits that his band Super Latin Ohangla Guys has faced many challenges but this has not deterred him from giving the best to his fans.
“Meeting the expectations of my fans is not easy. I have to study them in order to know their musical appeal,” he says.
“I constantly try to compose new songs so as to give them relief from my old ones,” he says.
His tight schedule has denied him the chance to interact freely with his fans and friends something that has not augur well with them.
Besides, he has to deal with a clique of green eyed fellow artistes who are jealous of fast rising fame.
“There are other con promoters who are using my name to dupe unsuspecting fans. There is also the unending death threats which has forced me to report the said cases at police stations in many occasion.”
Jakadalla currently has three albums under his cap namely Nyiri dwaro ang’o, Nyar Siaya and Hera Remo.
Done in Dholuo and produced at Leemax, Gwasi and Barikiwa studios Nairobi he describes them as unique and different.
Extremely popular with more than over 200,000 likes on You Tube is Hera Remo.
He is grateful to his fans for their unwavering support that has seen his music grow from strength to strength.
“They (fans) are our employers, they have made us what we are today,” says Jakadalla.
Inspired by Dola Kabarry and Osogo Winyo he is happy that he has managed to win many fans within a short time.
Humble family background:
Jakadalla is the second last born in a family of eight, He hails from Ugunja, Ugenya, Jakadala is born of Mrs Consolate Obok and the late Joseph Obok.
He was forced out of school in standard eight after the death of his father’ death.
However in 2006, he came to Nairobi with the help of a friend. He settled in the Kayole slum and spent four months working as a trained mechanic at Damco Auto Garage Tushauriane without pay.
He later quit and ventured into a car wash business belonging to the same garage and made some money enabling him to enroll back at St Agnes High School in Kayole where he sat for his KCSE in 2009.
He pursued a diploma course in engineering at New College, Nairobi, but opted to drop out after first year in order to pursue music.
Since then it appears there is no stopping Jakadalla who has dreams of establishing a local music academy to assist aspiring musicians.
He is the first Ohangla musician to hit at a tender age.