He is a straight shooter. He is fierce. He is charismatic. His music speaks to your soul. He was Man Ingwe, but not anymore.
Gospel singer, Anderson Murunga does not take prisoners as he shares his journey, political ambitions and exactly what ails the gospel industry. But first, Why Man Ingwe?
“Ingwe simply means Leopard in Luhya. Where I come from, Leopards are the most revered animals and I called myself that since I am a son of royalty and leopard is king. Therefore, you calling me Ingwe you are calling me royalty,” he says.
The charismatic Ugali Sosa hitmaker has suddenly decided to ditch the name since it does not have a global appeal.
“I have travelled quite a bit in the recent past, and my global audience has been struggling to find me on social media. So I have decided to go by ‘Mr Leopard’, which is more less the same, but now with some international touch,” he says.
Born in Kakamega in a village called Ingotse, Man Ingwe is the fifth born to Peter Murunga and Stella Munala, who he claims were actual royals as his father was once the chairman of the Kakamega Town planning and was the first and only person to have a Honda motorbike in the village. That by itself, according to Man Ingwe, spells affluence.
The outspoken musician’s life story is an interesting one. This saw him traverse different schools as a child since his mother, who is a teacher would be transferred occasionally.
Due to peer pressure and being the ‘rich kid’ he was, he tried smoking bhang in Standard Three and when his parents got wind of it, they cut his social ties and sent him to a faraway school.
“However, my father could not bear the financial burden at the boarding school, I was forced to join a local primary school where I sat my KCPE. Luckily, I was the best boy in my division, having bagged a total of 553 marks out of 700,” says Man Ingwe.
He then proceeded to Kakamega High School, where his love for extracurricular activities was nurtured. Later on, he joined Kenyatta University where he pursued a degree in Biochemistry and worked in several organisations, including Safaricom before calling it quits to focus on music.
“When I called it quits, I had many questions. I had already dropped some projects that were heavily blowing up, so the pressure was too immense and I bid my corporate life a goodbye. I do not count how many projects or albums I have out already. I have a catalogue of over 180 hits, some of which have not dropped,” he says.
Man Ingwe’s style of music is top-notch, and he tackles real-life issues in a comical way. His identity and sound are conspicuously different, a mantra he hopes to stick and abide by all his musical life. “I met Robert Kamanzi, who taught me how to make music and he always emphasised, the ‘simpler the better’.”
Entertainment should not be another boring lecture and if you look at my music, Ugali Sosa I was not speaking about Ugali, but I was passing across messages in the scriptures, particularly Mathew Chapter 6 verse 33.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” reads the scripture.
I always strive to bring the message to the masses in the simplest way I can,” says Man Ingwe. Being in the industry for some time now, Man Ingwe has lived life and travelled widely. One thing he says is the problem with our music industry is the fact that artistes do not know the dynamics of the industry.
“One of the major problems that come with royalties and revenue collection is the fact that artistes do not want to be part of the regulatory bodies, and some of the people seating in those positions do not know anything musically,” he says.
Man Ingwe has also tapped into his philanthropic nature and has been giving a helping hand to the needy in society. “I think I am who I am because of cumulative contribution from different entities over a different time; if everyone is given fair ground to thrive, there will be different success stories that we hear of. This is why I have progressively been involved in providing solutions to the needy.”
Well, the Kenyan gospel industry has been marred with controversies time and again, but Man Ingwe refutes the notion.
“The scandals you hear of do not come about because one is a musician. They happen because one is broke. Such things happen to almost everyone, but since one is a celebrity, it adds salt to the injury.”
Because of the shenanigans that have happened overtime, the artiste believes many young people are jumping ship since it looks ‘sexy’ decamping to the secular world after ditching the gospel.
“What infiltrated our industry and left us for the dead is the Groove Awards. Some artistes are not in it for passion, but for money, and this has left many with no one to look up to. But to the artistes I would say that it is never too late for us to shift to our default settings,” says Man Ingwe.