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Why legendary benga musician Odhiambo Tusker has quit secular music

 Benga star Benard Odhiambo Okome alias Odhiambo Tusker. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

When he strikes the first note on his guitar, the atmosphere turns electric. It doesn’t take long before he drops a line of his bewitching song “Jathum chamo suya” (a musician feasts on aroma).

For two decades, Benard Odhiambo Okome, fondly referred to as Odhiambo Tusker by his fans, has proved to be one of the exceptional Benga artistes in Nyanza, with energetic stage performances.

He has commanded adoration among fans locally and internationally. In Luo Nyanza, he is a household name who shares a table with the likes of Osito Kale, Ongoro Ja Karachuonyo, and Madanji Perimeter.

Today, whether played by a live band, radio station or DJ, Odhiambo’s hits such as Cynthia, Florry Nyar Bondo and Jopuonj Jomabeyo have become popular requests from fans in entertainment joints.

But after reigning in the Luo Benga scene since 2004, it is a new dawn for Odhiambo who has ditched secular music after being born again.

The former Malela Kings band leader announced his decision to give his life to Christ last week on social media. According to his post, Odhiambo said he received a call from God to serve him and announced that he was no longer in secular music.

“However much I am going to disappoint my clients, fans and friends, I have no option. The Almighty has spoken and I just have to honour his command,” he said.

The 37-year-old’s exit from the secular music scene adds to the long list of other celebrated artists like Wahu, Size 8 and another Luo Benga artist Oyier Simba Jay, who got born again. Former Ohangla artist Sammy Kijana also ditched Ohangla for gospel.

In an interview with The Standard, the 2012 nominee for Lakeside Awards in the category for Best Benga Artiste said all was the work of God.

“I know it has taken many people by surprise but that’s how God works. When the time comes, you just follow the will of God,” said the former member of the legendary Luo Benga maestro Osito Kalle’s Nabii Kings band.

A week before he announced his exit from secular music, Odhiambo released his last song dubbed Milly part 5. In the song, he praises his wife narrating how she has bared all the struggles and the good times they have had together.

Even though his stage name was derived from his love for Tusker beer, the artiste quit drinking more than five years ago.

“Many people knew me as Tusker but now that I’ve seen the hand of God, just call me brother Bernard Odhiambo Okome,” he said.

And in one of his songs “Wena Aweya Nyasacha”, Odhiambo asks God to forgive him for the wrongs that he has done on earth.

Odhiambo, who says that his two wives have welcomed the decision, added that he was laid back by dark forces.

“This decision has not come as a surprise. I had prepared for it,” he said, adding that he cancelled a number of shows that he was supposed to attend.

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