Musicians hit it big with political tunes

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru joins gospel artist Bahati when he was performing during a rally in Nakuru at the Nakuru show ground [PHOTO: Harun Wathari]

Sometime in May 2017, gospel crooner Ben Githae released a campaign song “UhuruRuto Tano Tena”, praising President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy. Despite the mixed reactions he got from his fans, some of who even banned him from staging shows in their functions, Githae was not bothered. According to him, he was exercising his democratic right to support his favourite politician.

It was a decision that saw him reap big financially and was even a recipient of a Head of State Commendation (HSC) civilian award.

Musician Onyi Jalamo helped popularise the word ‘Tibim’, a favourite of Opposition politicians through his song ‘Nasa Tibim’.

Nasa tibim

The song remains Jalamo’s most well-known to date despite having released several in Dholuo including ‘Ugenya Dala’, ‘Hera Oloka Neko’ and ‘Dr Evans Kidero’. Jalamo reaped big from NASA Tibim after former Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga bought him an expensive musical equipment, a van and gave him cash.

The musician who has since opened a studio further told Metropolitan he had a personal contract with Raila who has promised to do bigger things for him.

Although he has never done any political song, Musa Jakadalla reaped big with his first hit when he mentioned the name of Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga in one of his songs. The song ‘Nyar Ahero’ was an instant hit and Jakadalla become a regular performer in many Opposition rallies. The musician who is said to be giving sleepless nights to his peers recently won an award for best Ohangla Musician 2017.

Gospel artistes too

Despite ruling the airwaves for over a decade with several hits like ‘Wamiel’ and ‘Kisumu 100’ among others, Suzanna Owiyo has never shied away from making known her political inclinations. She has on many occasions graced Opposition rallies. During this year’s campaigns, she released a song titled ‘Nasa Dance’, in support of Opposition candidates.

Dennis Mutara, Heze Ndung’u, Githigithia and Nahshon Maina are well-known gospel artistes. But this did not stop them from releasing ‘Nyumba ya Mumbi’, urging their fans to turn up in large numbers to vote for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Singer Roy Smith Mwita, better known as Rufftone, graced many events of the ruling Jubilee Party. Early this year, he was among a few selected youths invited to State House to help push young people to register as voters for the elections.

‘Mambo Yabadilika’ became a huge hit five years ago when it was released by  Annastazia Mukabwa look-alike Hellena Ken. It became a popular Opposition campaign song in many rallies. The song opened the door to many opportunities and boosted her name.

Kevin Bahati, a gospel musician, has been a key player for the ruling Jubilee Party campaign songs. Bahati, who has graced Jubilee functions numerous times, with September last year being among gospel musicians who performed at the grand Jubilee party merger launch in Kasarani.

In April this year, he landed in Nairobi’s Kayole Soweto slums in a Jubilee-branded chopper to drum up support for Embakasi East parliamentary aspirant Francis Mureithi. Since making a musical breakthrough four years ago with his single ‘Mama’ that ruled the airwaves, Bahati has recorded more hits and he is currently riding high with ‘Nikumbushe’, a collaboration with bongo flava artiste Rayvanny.

Song for Baba

Maureen Achieng Otiu aka ‘Lady Maureen’, the undisputable queen of Ohangla, proved that she is equally able to get into the political scene musically. She rode high with her song in praise of Opposition supremo Raila Amolo Odinga during the 2017 campaigns. As a result, many legislators, especially those from Luo Nyanza, hardly missed her concert.

Mercy Masika, the three-time gospel Groove Award winner has also been on the Jubilee entertainment campaign for sometime now. Last year, like Bahati, she performed at the Jubilee Party merger in Kasarani.

In an interview with a section of the Media in September 2016, Masika said she used to be a critic of gospel artistes who perform at political rallies but all that changed when she was invited to perform for the President, stating that it pays.

“Although we appreciate what the political parties give us, it’s not enough to buy us. As a gospel artiste, you can’t always be swayed by public opinion - you have to follow God’s word,” she was quoted as saying.

Mombasa-based musicians Susumila and Ally B are always sought after by both Jubilee and the Opposition to perform at their rallies. According to Susumila, the ‘Mapepe’ hit-maker, it’s always about a paycheck and he doesn’t necessarily have a political favourite. He says he, however, cannot endorse any political party as he fears losing his fan base.

“We are a political country and I am an entertainer and that’s what I’m paid for. I have performed at Jubilee, ODM and NASA rallies,” said Susumila.

Exiled singer

But it was not all smooth for all musicians. Atomy Sifa, for instance, was forced to flee for his life after he was associated with a song that castigated NASA leader Raila Odinga. Sifa has been living in Tanzania for the past five months, since he released a song castigating Raila.

The song, ‘Uhuru Nyale’, (Uhuru is capable) brought the singer untold woes after fellow musicians from Luo Nyanza disowned him and a gang raided his shop in Homa Bay and promised to teach him a lesson should he return to his ancestral home in Adiedo, Karachuonyo.

This prompted Sifa to flee to Tanzania, where he has been staying with a friend in Kisrat and reveals that life has not been easy for him. He has had to do menial jobs and sing the praises of Magufuli’s achievements, hoping to catch the president’s attention and maybe some cash.

Sifa is also quick to offer his apologies to the former prime minister and the community for the song.