“As you have heard in my song, Mama, I was nine years when my mother passed on but now I have come to find out that I was actually seven then,” Bahati, the singing orphan and now the most promising gospel singer recalls.
“By the way, don’t shed tears if you get moved by the tribulations in my life as I am full grown now,” in quick succession, he jokes, his uplifted ambition betraying the pitfalls that have stalked his entire humble upbringing.
“Seven,” I pose with a puzzled gesture.
We are here to connect the missing links. A prolonged awkward silence throws us to an uncalled for interlude.
It is only days after the talented contemporary gospel star docked at the Pulse desk, revealing his desire to reconnect with his family that sort of neglected him after his mother died while he was a toddler. His father, whom he cut links with shortly after his mother’s demise is also diseased. Even then, he was a stranger, after he remarried and relocated homes, with a poor Bahati finding himself alone in Kariobangi, a Nairobi slum, the only home he now knows.
“I had been living in ABC Kenya Children’s home in Kariobangi, until I learned of the passing of my father. I was in Class Eight. Somehow, I managed to attend the burial and it was after this when my step-brother took me. He is the only family I have ever known of,” says Bahati, of his guardian, Kioko Bahati.
With Pulse and his step-brother as his back-up, two weeks ago, the young Bahati finally gathered courage and took a journey to his late mother’s native Makueni County to trace his background.
The gruelling two-days search was an experience, one that saw them face resistance and even life threatening handles. Into a remote village they finally docked, and there was Bahati’s 105-year old grandfather.
“The old man was utterly shocked. It was an emotional and fulfilling reunion. He informed me that my grandmother passed on years ago,” Bahati says, livening up in jubilation before dazing into another emotional interlude. His mind goes down memory lane and as he reminisces, his hidden emotions so buried in his brave face tells of a memorable pilgrim.
“I have lived for 13 years without seeing my family and I needed to see them. Amazing, my grandfather recognised me even with my short locks. The meeting was a humbling experience. The place is very dry and the realisation of where I actually belong inspired me to work harder. It sparked one of my biggest dreams of being a factor of change in my society,” he recollects.
He spent the weekend at the village and as he familiarised himself with his maternal family, no one was giving a word about his paternal end and sitting for this interview, every query we try to raise about the missing links is met with resistance.
“I only talk about this when I am giving motivational talks to schools. I know that I can only count myself successful once I embrace forgiveness. This is what has opened many doors in my life,” he says.
He adds: “I encourage everyone to trace their roots and remember their humble beginnings. I believe the city can change us but we have to remind ourselves of where we come from. It gives one such a sense of humility to see God’s favour upon your life. I don’t regret anything as there is power in humble beginning.”
“My dream is to be the voice of an African child. There are many people I am yet to inspire with God’s word,” he concludes.