He has been to hell and back. But he is in a great place now. The gleam in his eyes and the spring in his step is that of the cool and calm man he has grown into. Many remember him from the days of Kleptomaniax musical group. Fresh, energetic and oozing charisma, every guy wanted to be them and every girl wanted to be with them. But that was then.
“I’m an evangelist now.”
“An anointed one. And I’m not just saying it because of the title but I clearly represent Jesus Christ,” he says, sitting back in his chair.
Watching him and listening to him feels like two parallel experiences. In ripped jeans and dark glasses, managing to look ultra-cool despite breaking the fashion rule of never wearing dark glasses indoors, he looks so much like the old Collo with the devil-may-care charm who wooed girls with his music. Listening to him however feels like you are in an urban church where the pastor isn’t a stuffy old man and you are allowed to dance however the spirit allows you.
DARK SPACE, HEDONISTIC PHASE
He assures me that he is still very much the same person but just a lot more spiritual. “I am not trying to look for attention or money like I used to,” he says.
His path to where he is now has been a tough road filled with dark times. When the musical group split and everyone went their own way, Collo kept on singing. But he also picked up a second job as a copy writer at Scanad which is part of ScanGroup, a communications firm.
But in 2014, spurred by circumstances, he quit the job. “By the time I was leaving the agency, I was in a very dark place. I was depressed, I was an alcoholic, I was a chain smoker and my sexual deviance was crazy. There was a lot of debauchery going on in my life at that time, which of course I can’t say that I am proud of but I am thanking God for the process and the grace that he enabled me.”
He was addicted to masturbation. A vice he says affects many who suffer silently.
“Living for the flesh. That was my one great mistake. I regret that I was addicted to pornography and masturbation. I tell men that every time you masturbate, you are giving birth to spiritual babies and it blocks you from having babies when it is the right time,” he says.
While I ponder this, trying to make sense of the statement, he tells me that his life was going down the drain and he could see it all happening.
“I was also abusing drugs and alcohol. I was taking these in copious amounts. These are things that people don’t want to talk about, yet everyone including the A-list artists are struggling with them. But they are bondages that you have to address with young men today.”
SHE SAVED HIM
At the time, he had a wife and a child, and his way of life was not boding well with them.
“Our relationship was obviously, due to the choices I was making, at rock bottom. It was such a dark time in my life. I was so bitter. I was down. I contemplated so many things, even just leaving the country.”
While his wife Phoebe was not a happy one, he admits that she stood by him with all his ‘nonsense’.
“It was not an easy thing for her. I really needed help. Any other woman would have left. But Phoebe is my best friend. She stayed. I wouldn’t trade that woman for anything,” he says.
Her faith in God and in their union saved his life.
“She would pray for me. Every day. Through her, I came to believe in the power of a prayerful woman. And later in the same year, I realised that I needed to change my life. It was all going down the drain. I decided to try out salvation. Maybe it would steer me right.”
And save him it did. He explains that as soon as he embraced faith, his mindset changed too.
“That was undoubtedly the most defining moment of my life, and it changed the course of my life. My life brightened up so fast. I stopped the debauchery and in 2015, quit all the drugs and alcohol. I was ready to find a new path.”
And with that he decided to make some changes around me.
“The first thing I needed to do was formalise the union with the one person who had been by my side. We planned a wedding. It was time to do right by her. It was a beautiful event. Arguably one of the top three happiest moments of my life. The other two being the birth of my child and the day I found salvation.”
Marriage, he says, is a beautiful thing. This is especially when you have Jesus Christ right in the centre. It confirms God’s faithfulness.”
He talks about Phoebe in a softer tone. He met her through their mutual friend Sheila who knew Collo liked women who are taller than him, a fact that Collo clearly elucidates in the song You Guy; One of us has to be the short one in the relationship so imma take one for the team.
“Sheila knew I preferred dating taller women. And so he introduced me to Phoebe. She was perfect. She was the right height, curvy, plus size and I like my girls BBW (big beautiful women). She has that African X-factor. I also knew she would make a great mum. When you know you know,” he says with a smile.
They have a nine-year-old daughter and Collo knows all too well how lucky he is to have his wife and daughter.
“I don’t deserve everything I have. I really needed help back then. How my wife prayed for me, prompted me to change my life. She pointed me in the right direction and I owe her a lot,” he says.
Even though his life had changed after salvation, he had kept his born-again news a secret until two years later.
“After dealing with changing myself, I needed healing. I needed to know who I really was. I found out that knowing who you are helps you to stop trying to get attention from other people.”
He also realised that his music needed to change.
“I cried to God for a song because after 2014, I tried releasing another song called Pasuka and it flopped miserably,” he says of the failed release.
It was only in 2016, after he revealed to the world that he was leaving the secular world behind, that he released the song Bazokizo and was an instant hit.
KLEPTOMANIAX IS OLD NEWS
One question that has been on many people’s lips since Nyashinski, his former band mate returned from the US, was whether the group would ever get back together.
“Listen, this is not the season for Kleptomaniacs. Whatever we did as Klepto happened. It was a good time. It was a great time, we enjoyed ourselves. All beginnings have an end. So now we are in a new season. Let’s focus on the new season.”
Are they all still friends?
“Once in a while we do meet, even though things are different now. But yes, we are still friends, they were my childhood friends after all.”
Today he is a music student at Kabarak University. His mission is to establish godly reign over Africa’s celebration mountain. The celebration mountain, he explains, is basically the arts industry.
“I also have a new song out, ‘Conquerer’. It is all about ensuring your spiritual, mental, physical and financial wellness.”
He also wants to mentor young artistes.
“After salvation, I realised that I didn’t know everything. I now want to mentor, teach music and all things music. I don’t have to be an artist to be in the music industry.”
That doesn’t mean that he is quitting being one yet. In the short term, we can still expect music from him, which he says he will never really quit. His music, he says, will sound different too.
“It will feature more traditional instruments like Isikuti than western hip hop beats. It will also not always be cut and dry Gospel, but always God-centered. Let anyone who looks at Collins Majale know that we serve a living God” he concludes.
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