I heard the children scream, “Uuwi, daddy usituue!” (father please don’t kill us!). This was too much for me and I gathered my energy to save them....
Musician forgives relatives who sent him packing after death of parents
Ohangla musician Roy Odede and his sister have encountered a string of misfortunes and bad luck since they were young. Born in Uyoma Kowkwiri, Siaya county, Odede and his only sibling moved in with their grandmother after losing both parents in a road accident. He tells Stephen Mburu how the decision to change his attitude transformed his life.
How was it like living with your grandma?
It was not very rosy. We lived in a small mud house in the village. My grandmother who worked as a sisal farm was the sole breadwinner. Given that, they were paid on an hourly basis, grandma could not work for long and her pay was not enough to sustain us. It was very painful to hear neighbours claim that bad omen had struck our family.
How did you cope?
In class five, I joined my grandmother at the sisal farm and was able to make enough to buy food and other essentials. Unfortunately in 2003, before I was done with my primary education, grandmother also passed away.
What was the cause of her death?
No one really knows because she wasn’t sick and simply died in her sleep. Her death dealt us a big blow because she was our sole guardian.
What happened after her sudden death?
Sadly, our relatives chased us away from home. My sister and I sought refuge at our aunt’s place in Suba. Before long, I went back to my home village and started fishing to make a living.
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Was your new venture successful?
No it was not. One of my aunts made me a shamba boy after she promised to support my education. At one point, a well-wisher helped me to join Makasembo High School, but this was also short-lived as I had to drop out for lack of school fees.
What happened next?
I came to Nairobi in search of a better life. I lost my security guard job in Pangani when my colleague and I were abducted and dumped in Muthaiga. After this incident, I resorted to doing mjengo work, selling mandazi, and selling plastics.
Did you believe that you were a bad omen?
Although my relatives were convinced, I believe that it was the negative energy which had built up after the death of my grandmother.
What was your turning point?
One time while hustling in Nairobi, I made a decision to change the negative mentality and started thinking of ways to improve my life. Finally, I settled on pursuing music as a career since I was also very passionate about it. I sing Ohangla-rhumba love songs. I have recorded two audio albums. Rit Odi (Protect your family), Nerea obera and En Achiel Mohera (I am only loved by one) are my greatest hit songs in these albums.
Now I have hotel gigs running on most weekends, and other events in Mombasa. I also came up with my own music band.
What has been your biggest achievement since you changed your mentality?
I finally understood that I am solely responsible for my life. I’m proud that I have employed ten people in my band.
Have you forgiven your relatives?
Yes, I forgave them and moved on. I am glad that my relatives now recognize me and involve me in family matters. I also assist them at home.
What lessons have you learnt from this experience?
I have learnt that challenges will always come, but with discipline and focus, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to do.