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Best male artiste on mission to ‘detribalise’ Kenya

By | May 2nd 2012

By Jeckonia Otieno

"Niko na niko na reason ya ku...clap, ku...snap (I have a reason to applaud)" are the most memorable words in the song Niko na Reason.

And the singer, Emmanuel Eko Dydda, simply known to most of his fans as Dydda, had a reason to applaud last weekend when he was declared the male gospel artiste of the year at the Groove Awards.

The ever smiling artiste Dydda beat a host of contenders who are the who-is-who in the gospel music industry to emerge top. He finished ahead of Juliani, Jimmy Gait, Daddy Owen, and Man Ingwe, among others to win the coveted prize.


Dydda says he could not believe his ears when his name was called out and he said, "Naona ni kama movie (It all looks like a movie to me)" to the thrill of the audience.

Eko Dydda with Emmy Kosgey at the Groove Awards ceremony. [Photo: Evans Habil/Standard]

The young man, who grew up in the slums of Mathare, says he felt honoured to receive the award.

Dydda’s passion is to see issues of affecting slums addressed.

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Says Dydda: "For me, winning is not the thing, but getting the message to all Kenyans out there is my aim. In winning, I know it is God, who is working miracles in my life."

This has made him come up with the initiative to get all Kenyans to live as one people hence his popular phrase, which is also emblazoned on his T-shirts, "Mi si mtribal, mi ni mtribe all (I am not tribal but I am all tribes)". Dydda says that if there is anything that has brought Kenya to its knees, then it is tribalism.

Politics of tribe

"People have lost opportunities just because they were from one tribe or the other. Before you are employed, people seek to know your name and this defines the break or make moment because if you are from the ‘right’ tribe you get the opportunity; if you are not, then forget it," says the singer.

For now, Dydda has taken to teaching the youth about cohesion. He notes that this can be done through intermarriages, people buying land in different areas of the country, and changing the naming system for children.

He, therefore, reveals that he had to officially change his name to Emmanuel Eko Dydda to avoid being associated with any tribe and to stay true to his initiative; he has also named his son Keepitreal Dydda.

He states, "I had to swear an affidavit to change my name and it will be hard for you to link my son to any community based on his name. I urge all Kenyans to take this route to finish this ill."

The singer, who is known for ‘stammer and stagger’ style on stage, says that having grown up in the ghetto has taught him what life is.

He notes, "I know that there are people who thrive in tribalism, which makes them perpetuate it as they exploit youth in the slums for their own selfish interests."

Dydda is unhappy with the fact that many people in the slums do not know their rights hence they are bullied by the same police force that is meant to maintain law and order. He reckons that cases of police arresting the youth indiscriminately shows how unjust society is.


With a sad look on his face, Dydda tells of a man he met in prison during one of his tours to the facility. The young man had mysteriously disappeared from the slums. The young man had allegedly been arrested during a police crackdown after a man was killed in Mathare.

"He was tried and sentenced to more than ten years in prison yet he claims he was just from work that evening."

Dydda, whose music clicks well with the youth, has come a long way. He recalls that he only got to know many places in town centre after 2009 when he would go and perform in many functions guided by fellow artistes Holy Dave and Jeffro.

Though slums are associated with many bad things, Dydda readily admits that slums taught him all he knows about life. To make the area sound romantic, he describes ghetto as ‘Getting Higher education to Teach Others’ and slum as ‘Silver Lies Under Me’.

Many fans don’t know that Dydda is married. He says that his wedding was a low key ceremony because marriage is not "what kind of wedding you have, but how well the family sticks together".

"My wife and I were in jerseys on our wedding day because I like breaking the conventional order and bringing in a new order."

Eko Dydda caps it all of by saying, "I give up" not in the sense of quiting but handing it over to God up above.

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