Nynke Nauta, a Holland music promoter recalls the grief the ghetto-based artistes caused her before calling it quits.
Kilio Cha Haki was an album she helped Kalamashaka and the Ukoo Flani Mau Mau Camp record with funding from friends in Amsterdam.
“But as time went on, I realised they wanted me to buy everything for them, including lunches, fare, and such,” she recalls. “They would be late for recordings, come drunk, sniffing glue and smoking. They even made advances at me!” Nynke recalls that during the album launch at the Carnivore, the artistes came sniffing glue and stoned off their heads.
“It was embarrassing. One of them accused me of conning them off their money, and even after I tried showing them we were making losses from the album recording,” she adds. “They called me a white supremacist and other bad names. One of the K-Shaka guys physically assaulted me.”
Kalamshaka had already recorded a hit single, Fanya Mambo in Sweden. The song produced by Ken Ring was a must listen catapulting the group to international circuit. This was hot on heels of Tedd Josiah produced gems Tafsiri Hii and Moto.
If Kalamashaka were invited to a concert, the trio would come with over 20 of their Mau Mau affiliates in tow.
“We needed numbers to cheer us and offer morale coz barbies didn’t dance or cheer our rap then,” says Mwas.
Kalamashaka gigs dried up.
“There were chaos however it was not K-Shaka or Ukoo Flani members,” explains Mwas. “The Ukoo Flani movement grew too quickly for us; we didn’t have time to set up control structures. Sometimes even mageri (thugs) hang around with Ukoo because it was a movement trying to rehabilitate them, and when they did bad things we would be blamed.”
Nynke decided to overlook the Kilio Cha Haki launch mistreatment as she believed in their talent. She gave them the equipment used to record the album, and embarked on building them a studio in Dandora.
They couldn’t pay rent
“However, even before we could apply and write a coherent proposal, the guys started spreading rumours that I was purposely trying to stop them from progressing,” says Nynke. Being a young white girl in a foreign country with no friends, she went into depression. When she recovered, she was shocked. “The one time I stepped into the studio, it stunk of piss. They spent days there not recording but drinking and smoking and chatting away. They couldn’t pay rent”.
Kalamashaka, by now indistinguishable from Ukoo Flani Mau Mau, stopped attending concerts held in posh places. “The real reason was that they were broke, and people expected them to arrive in style decked in flashy clothes like the rest of the newly upcoming rap stars,” Ken Gee reveals.
When some managers offered to get them deals to be dressed up, the members revolted that it would make them barbie and sellouts back in the ghetto. When invited for a photo shoot they would go to the event, sometimes even in slippers. Splits inevitably occurred and put immense pressure on the Kalamashaka trio. Being ghetto means being tough, and they never sought help despite struggling psychologically. The Ukoo Flani dream had outgrown them into a Frankenstein monster that would eat their souls.
Then there was the celeb pressure even from family members.
There were many occasions where Kalamashaka would do a concert, get money, walk back to Dandora and give the whole amount to parents, and neighbours, to pay school fees for their siblings, leaving nothing for themselves.
The outlawed Mungiki sect warmed its way into Dandora and by extension Ukoo Flani and shortly people interpreted their radical lyrics as being part of Mungiki propaganda.
In the meantime, Kalamashaka and Ukoo Flani Mau Mau brand of harsh reality music was edged out of airplay, termed too radical. Frustrated, with a feeling that Kenyans were not giving them respect, members of Kalamashaka sought solace in drugs.
“The fall of K-Shaka is simple. Roba couldn’t stay off alcohol. He had lost it then and I hear he still hasn’t got it together,” Nynke asserts.
The most gifted lyrically in K-Shaka, got into crime
“They did not have the ability to reflect. Roba was a visionary but totally impractical. He had great ideas but would not act on them. That ghetto is just a hellhole; it is very hard to be a sane person growing up in that place. So at the end of the day I understand them.
‘Kamaa’ too sunk into alcoholism and went to the US where he is struggling to live clean. Roba kept it real in Dandora. He tried running a struggling hip-hop studio. He hit hard times and financing his alcoholism has seen him selling groundnuts.
Vigeti, whom everyone agrees was the most gifted lyrically in K-Shaka, got into crime. He was caught stealing side mirrors from cars and spent six months at Industrial Area prison, from where he was released late last year.
Nynke, tired of the Ukoo Flani, left and founded PENYA records that discovered Sauti Sol. She also recorded Dela, Muthoni the Drama Queen, and Just a Band. Perhaps this later success is what makes her saddened about Vigeti. “Yes vigeti was very intelligent too! He just went down because of where he grew up. He gave up on life in a way. He didn’t “belong” in that place. But then again, who does?”
This is precisely what Jaguar did
“There are things, looking back now, that we could have done better,” says former manager Mwas. “We should have also done the music business better. Packaging and marketing. K-Shaka would have stuck to music and get proper people to handle the empire.”
This is precisely what Jaguar did; take care of the business end of things. Today, he is bailing out guys like Vigeti, who are now stuck in quicksand.