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No lust and romance in artiste’s repertoire

By JECKONIA OTIENO | Jun 24th 2012 | 3 min read


Three boys step forward, ready to entertain the gathered crowd. The audience is wild with jubilation even before the boys open their mouths.

“Track three DJ,” cuts in one boy over the microphone. The venue is packed as so many people have come to rally against teenage pregnancy.

The boy, Emmanuel Washe, 15, is in Standard Seven at Katkirieni Primary School in Chonyi village of Kilifi County.

He is the local star who is daring enough to go places with his artistic talent. He is being backed by two other boys who have his song at heart.

As big as a hangar

Washe uses the stage name Hang’a Bizo which he coined  from the word ‘hangar’, the huge place where airplanes are housed, because he wants to be as big (famous) as a hangar one day.

The hit he performs on this occasion is Ukimwi Gonjwa Sugu and he begins his rap in fluent Kiswahili as his flow pulls the primary schools pupils present at the event to the stage. They dance with passion.

The songs typically take the genre of the contemporary Tanzanian Bongo Flavour only that the message is not about love; but it is about HIV/Aids.

The young man is yet to release the song but villagers are nodding their heads to the melodious rhythm.

Washe’s singing success is like a dream, he says.

“It all started as a dream when I was nine years old. While I slept, I felt the words of my very first song flow into me,” he confesses.

When he got up the following morning, he picked a pen and paper and jotted down the lyrics of Vijana Punguzeni Mapenzi. He internalised the words daily until he was sure of the next step — recording the song.

He had a track made of his song by a producer in Kaloleni Township more than ten kilometres away.

He could use the track for more practice before eventually recording his first album.

Knowing that recording involved money, Washe had started saving earlier and went to the studios prepared.

Lust and romance

“I saved my pocket money, which my parents would send me from Mombasa.”

The song, he notes — and the present audience confirms it by their appreciation — touched the hearts of many people in the village and he instantly became popular.

Every time he sang it, people took to the stage to join him in sancing to the beats.

His three songs, which he sings at every opportunity, have a massive following.

Washe wants to stand out for a different style of music that gets the youth talking about issues rather than talking about lust and romance.

“I don’t want to sing about lust and romance but I would like to concentrate on music that teaches the society as a whole and not just focused on young people.”

Indeed his second song, Sisi Wakenya Twataka Elimu, tackles the ever serious issues of education. It urges people to take their children to school to prepare the young generation to take up the reins of leadership.

That is Washe’s passionate appeal and he hopes the country is listening.

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