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Artiste uses music to fight drug abuse

By By ALEX NAMULIRO | Apr 23rd 2014 | 4 min read


Kakamega, Kenya: His passion for music has endeared him to music lovers in Kenya. In any list of Kenya’s biggest gospel artist cum producers, his name must feature. 

Top names in the industry  - including Rufftone, Daddy Owen, Man Ingwe, and many others - trace their roots to him. To them, he is a godfather, mentor and tutor.

Ibrahim Osborn, 37, has mixed his love for music and philanthropy to reach out to millions of souls. Besides that, he dedicates a huge chunk of his time to the fight against drug abuse.

“Music is a special art. I had the passion for music since I was a kid and that is how I ended up in music. Later on, I decided to use my exposure to fight drug abuse,” says Osborn whose journey into the world of music started when he was 17.

A born-again Christian, Osborn’s story is one filled with inspiration and testament that nothing beats acts of compassion and giving back to the society.

“I decided to start humbly with a small recording house. At first, I felt like pulling out because I did not have enough finances but slowly momentum came in,” narrates Osborn.

Even with the modesty of his music production studio, Osborn has all the zeal and determination to make sure the youth in the area fight the vice of indulging in drug abuse and wasting their talents.

Osborn’s interest in music began when he learnt to play the piano at Nairobi’s Bishop Ben Bahati’s Gospel Ministry.  He soon graduated to playing the bass guitar and as witnessed by The Counties team during our visit to his studio, he can now play most instruments.

He attributes all his expertise and knowledge in the industry to friends and well-wishers who tutored him and enabled him to amass the skills without any formal training.

The married father of three traces his musical journey back to 1994 when his role in several gospel bands flourished in Nairobi’s river road.

“I met Shari Martin in early ’90s when I was still volunteering for a gospel band in Nairobi. We did and album called Nimekutambua Shetani which was my debut album and I was so happy it was a success,” he said.

This was then later followed by another album called Rafiki Pesa whose main song was a hit and it proved to him that he was on the right path.

His music led in the third album Yesu Ndie Bwana, which he recorded in collaboration with Shari Martin. Soon after, he got the idea of starting his own studio.

“In 2001 I realised that my prowess in the field was something I could boast about and I decided to relocate from Nairobi to my home town of Kakamega to start a music production studio,” Osborn says.

He said it was not because of the commercial gain but he saw a problem of drug abuse among the youth in his hometown, something that troubled him so much that he wanted to use the word of God through music.

“I realized that many youth were wasting their talents by staying idle and this are people whom when given a chance to explore their talents they will of no doubt excel,” he continued.

After operating from his home for about four years he finally rented a place in Kakamega town which he set up the studio and since then he has never looked back.

“What makes me happy is when I see a young person go through my hands and comes out to be an independent person in his pursuit of spreading the word of God through song,” Osborn says.

One of his best moments in his work was in 2006 when he produced the famous Mundu Mulosi gospel song for musician Joseph Shisia. The song has been a hit till today and he is a satisfied man for that.

Other artists who have also passed through his studio include Tumsifu Rufutu from Tanzania who song Mwambie Farao and Robert Lumbasi’s - we are one.

His job has also presented to him a fair share of challenges where most artists relocate to Nairobi and prefer studios in Nairobi leaving Kakamega a dry land without musicians.

“People have not been supportive right from the start because they don’t take music seriously,” he asserted.

He has employed more than a dozen youth who help him in his studio and he says is good thing because most of his employees the youth get something to keep them busy and avoid indulging in drug abuse.

His advice to the youth is to shun abusing drugs and realise their talent so that they make themselves useful to the society.

As a member of the Music Copyright Society of Kenya, he plans to vie for the post as a the director in the next election since he is convinced it will give him a good chance to push the agenda of fighting drug abuse and nurturing talent at the same time.

“I am pleased that I have supported some youth who were languishing in drugs and now they can have their own life to use their talents and be better person in the society, and I will keep doing that,” he said.

“I was once a drug addict and I know how it feels like being in the situation that is what inspires me to do more and push to see this eradicated. “He finished.

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