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Rough childhood steers singer into gospel music

By | December 18th 2010


For the last many years, Jane Muthoni has been ‘killed’ by detractors several times.

She says, countless times people have called her mother informing her of Muthoni’s death.

Since she started singing over ten years ago, Jane Muthoni has released five albums and has become one of the most popular Kikuyu gospel singers. [PICTURE: REUTERS]

The first episode was in 1998 when mourners suddenly turned at Muthoni’s rural home.

She recalls the agitated phone call from her mother: "Muthoni, there are mourners in my compound. They say that they have received news you have committed suicide!"

To end the rumours, she travelled home with her husband. As expected, villagers took off some at Muthoni’s resurrection.

Cloak of want

It was scary meeting my friends who would ask me whether I had resurrected," she tearfully recounts. For a whole week, she stayed with her mother, convincing mourners who flocked their house that she was alive.

In November, last year, a fresh round of rumours that she had died of a heart attack spread. "I received many calls from my friends, fans and relatives inquiring whether I was well. It took a week to dispel the rumours, a process that made me stage regional live show performances," she says.

Muthoni says a man she once turned down was the architect of her death rumours.

In an interview at her music shop in Nairobi, Muthoni narrates a moving story, a catalogue of desperation, poverty and pain. "I was born into biting poverty, burdened with no secure place to call home," she says as she starts the chronology of her life. Her single mother brought her forth wearing the cloak of want and sorrow.

"To date, I do not even know who my father is," she says. At the age of seven, she started formal education at Gachoka Primary School in Gatundu, Thika District. She later dropped out due to lack of school fees but joined another school after two years.

In Class Five, she was transferred to another school. Before long Muthoni and her mother moved to Narok where she sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.

As fate would have it, Muthoni was unable to continue with Secondary School.

In 1993, Muthoni and her mother were caught up in politically instigated ethnic clashes in Narok. "We were forced to run back to Gatundu. I had to join my mother in her odd jobs to put a meal on the table," she says.

She was to confront hard life in its raw form. In 1996, Muthoni’s life inspired her to write music. Using her hard-earned resources and topping it with borrowed money, released her first album Giagai na Hinya (Be Strong), which became a hit that she says sold out. A year later, she was back in the market with the second album Ndaikitio Nyuguto (I Had Been Hurled Afar),a lamentation of her hard life, telling all that she was coming out of a place hunger, thirst and pain abound.

In 2001, she was back to the studio and Ningurugama Wega (I Will Stand Firm) album was born. She says this was her way of pushing aside all the setbacks.

In 2005, she released her fourth album, Twarana Nanii (Walk by My Side). The next year, she released another hit, Materetha (My tribulations). In the song, all her blurred sad memories struggle to surface. She tells of her past despairing sense of futility mingling with pain. Today, Muthoni, who aspires to start a evangelical ministry to propel her gospel music career, says bitterness and happiness are choices that one can only willingly take up.

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