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'I chose not to sell my body' - Nyota Ndogo's journey from househelp to musician

 Kenyan singer Nyota Ndogo. (Courtesy)

Kenyan singer Nyota Ndogo recently shared a candid account of her path to success on Facebook. 

At seventeen, she chose housekeeping over compromising her values, saying, "I was seventeen going on eighteen; I chose to be a housekeeper and not to sell my body."

Despite limited formal education, Nyota Ndogo embraced the philosophy of "whoever goes slowly will arrive." She worked as a housekeeper in Nyali for four months, saving 6 thousand shillings, some of which she sent to her mother. 

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Living frugally during this period, she admitted, "The only thing I used to buy is always (sanitary pads)," with a clear focus on amassing funds to support her family. "I used to stay there so that I can make enough money.”

Nyota Ndogo's musical journey began while working as a housekeeper, a touching aspect of her story. Recalling disbelief when her identity as Nyota Small was questioned, she emphasized, "I answered it was me. They didn't believe you."

Her perseverance and musical talent caught the attention of radio stations, though the media often highlighted her background as a housegirl in Nyali. She expressed gratitude, saying, "All thanks to God and those who contributed to my growth."

Born, Mwanaisha Abdalla in the Ukunda slums of Majengo, Mombasa, Nyota Ndogo is the second of six children and the eldest among the girls. Her early struggles with education unfolded as she attended Makande Primary School but could not sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams due to financial constraints.

Forced to drop out of school after her mother couldn't afford the fees, Nyota Ndogo took on the role of a househelp. 

In a prior interview with the Standard Group, she shared, “I took the job in my stride, unbothered by the little pay as it gave me the opportunity to nurture my music talent by listening to songs on television and radio that were absent back home. I would write and hum the songs, a habit that helped me perfect my talent. Luckily, my employer noticed my ambition and supported me, to the extent of treating me as part of the family.”

A fellow house help introduced her to music producer Andrew Burchell, aka Madebe, who recorded her debut album, Chereko. 

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