SANAIPEI TANDE is the embodiment of an independent woman. She tells MUNDE OKUNA how losing her radio presenter job paved the way for better opportunities, why she is on a mission to make lots of money this year, and why she has contemplated becoming an unmarried parent.
"I have found the king of love. When he kisses me, caresses me and lays me down, it is evident. This is not the first time I am making love, but there is none like him...."
These are some of the lyrics of Sanaipei Tande's 2013 song
"Mfalme wa Mapenzi".
The accompanying video was equally sensual and had scenes of Sanaipei in a bathtub drinking champagne and others of her in bed with her 'lover', with flashes of skin including her thighs.
That Sanaipei is open about her sexuality came out clearly when she released the song. Following its release, Kenyans took to social media to comment.
But Sanaipei says there was nothing wrong with the lyrics or video, it is just reality. "Kenyans are hypocritical. They are doing these things in secret, but want to bash me when I sing about it."
Sanaipei says she stays true to what she believes in and does not care what people say. "I stopped caring what people say about me when I was 19."
Sanaipei says people should live their lives without worrying what others will or might say. True to her stand, her latest song – Simama – is all about that. She urges people to take a stand and be their authentic selves.
And what about her parents. What did they think?
Sanaipei says she is very close with her parents. She says she asked them not to watch the Mfalme wa Mapenzi video.
They did listen to the lyrics though.
"The first time my mum put on earphones to listen to the song, she was shocked. She stopped listening after the first verse and said, "Woi mami, what is this!"
Her father totally avoided the lyrics conversation and chose to focus on Sanaipei's vocals, telling her she did a good job.
Getting to know Sanaipei
Sanaipei Tande is the kind of person who makes you feel like a long-lost friend. When she arrives for our interview, she immediately starts a friendly conversation and it feels like she is picking up from a previous conversation.
She was up until 2am the previous night hosting karaoke, but woke up bright and early to make it for our 9.30am meeting.
"Don't mind my husky voice or if I look tired. I have hardly had any sleep and I had a lot of drinks as I hosted karaoke," she says.
We already know Sanaipei is a singer and a former radio presenter. She first burst into the limelight in 2004 as the shy girl who was one of the winners of the Coca Cola Popstars competition, which led to the formation of the three-member music group Sema. The group had hits including their debut single Leta Wimbo and Mwewe before they parted ways just six months later.
Sanaipei went on to host a radio show on Kiss 100 before leaving for Nation FM. Her show became the highest rated mid-morning show. But being the best was evidently not good enough, because in 2016, she was one of those shown the door as the station downsized before finally closing.
Sanaipei narrates, "I was on leave and when I returned to work, I found my colleagues looking sullen. I asked what was wrong and they said people were being fired." She says she wasn't afraid because she is the kind of person who deals with situations as they unfold.
Sanaipei went on to host her show and afterwards, her manager told her he wanted to have a brief word with her. The meeting was going to happen in the boardroom. "It is then that I knew that baas (this is it), I'm one of those being fired."
And indeed she was. Sanaipei found her boss and a counsellor in the boardroom. Her boss thanked her for her good work, adding that her show was the top-rated mid-morning show in the country.
"I didn't understand why they were firing me if it was top rated, but I was okay with it."
I ask her if she regrets leaving her previous radio job – maybe she wouldn't have had to go through getting fired had she stayed.
But her answer is an emphatic no. "I left that job, even though the station has strong presence, because it just was not paying well. After I paid my car loan and other bills, I had nothing left. I couldn't even treat myself to something nice, like a pair of shoes."
She continues, "I am not the kind of person to compromise on the quality of my work because of poor pay. I give my 100 per cent and hope to be compensated accordingly. But I wasn't and I felt it was not worth the effort I was putting in. I was earning less than Sh100,000 and it was 2012. In 2012!"
Sanaipei says that she didn't feel like the world had ended when she lost her Nation FM job. She decided to look at it as a blessing in disguise, like it was paving the way for something better.
She is quick to acknowledge that not everyone can go through job loss as sanely as she did, because some people are breadwinners or have to take care of extended families, among other obligations. But she maintains – it's not the end of the world.
Sanaipei's phone beeps every few minutes as we talk and she apologises and says she has just released a new song – Simama – so people are reacting to it on social media. Sanaipei says she has a lot of projects she wants to do this year because "this is the year I want to make a lot of money."
She had two other engagements on the day of our meeting and would be off for a gig in Nakuru in the evening.
Apart from being a karaoke host, Sanaipei is a budding real estate investor. Is she compensating for the loss of income from her previous job by taking every gig that comes her way?
Not really. Sanaipei says she has always had many gigs. She has just decided that 2017 will be the year she will become financially stable and wealthy, if you will.
But she cannot be doing too badly with all her years in the industry, so what is it?
Well, Sanaipei hints that her desire to make a boatload of cash could be tied to the fact that she has contemplated becoming a single mother if she does not meet the right man for her. And ensuring she provides a comfortable life for her children will require a considerable amount of money, she says.
Sanaipei is currently single and has been for four years now. Her last relationship was with former musician Manga. It was a six-year-long affair and the couple always gave paparazzi a good photo as they displayed their affection publicly.
So what happened there? "I really loved Manga, but I realised I was not growing in the relationship. It was not adding value," Sanaipei says.
Sanaipei is 32 years old, but says she is in no hurry to get married and will not bow to the pressure to get married by a certain age, the only thing she thinks about is getting children before her biological clock starts to tick.
Sanaipei says she is not one to settle. "I cannot be with someone I don't love. I have to be attracted to you and sura lazima (you have to be good looking.)"
She says she does not understand women who have relationships with sponsors (older, moneyed men who may not necessarily be easy on the eye) because they want to live a certain lifestyle.
"I cannot imagine sleeping next to someone I don't love and having their children," she says.
Sanaipei says that even if she finds a man she thinks is Mr Right and gets married, she still wants to be financially independent in case things don't work out.
"I see women staying in bad relationships because they have kids and cannot take care of them alone. I will be perfectly okay if a man at some point decides I am not the one. I will go my own way and not demand any money from him. Let him just take care of his kids, but I want nothing from him."
So unorthodox are Sanaipei's views on relationships that she says she does not mind if a man cheats. "Just as long as I don't find out. Men will be men."
She says she does not conform to society's standards of when women should get married or under what circumstances they should bear children.
"I would love to get married because I want to share my life with someone, not because society says that I should. But if I don't get married, that is my cross to bear, not society's," she says.
Sanaipei continues, "Like I say about everything in life, you make your own choices and as long as you can deal with the consequences that follow, that is fine. That's how I live my life."
She is quick to add that she would not go to a sperm bank, even if she were to become a single mother. It would probably be an arrangement with someone she knows. "I would be happy to get twins so I can finish the process at once," she says.
Sanaipei adds that her parents would probably not be for the idea of her becoming a single mother. "They want me to find a good man to settle down with just like every other parent does. I've seen their relationship of more than 30 years and would love to have that too. I'm independent, but when it comes to relationships, I'm submissive. I've seen my mum do this. To this day, she will go home and ask my dad if she can make him tea or do anything for him. I like that."
Sanaipei's plate is full, but she is also casting her eyes in the direction of real estate. "People will always need a place to live. I want to start a business in those lines. I don't have to build fancy houses, just decent ones for common people."
She is currently building her own home near where her parents live. "I realise that I will not end up living in the house if I get married because men don't want to move into their wives' house, but at least let me just have it there."
Sainaipei concludes by saying it is important for women to be financially independent. "Don't depend on sponsors or men in general. Work hard and be your own person."