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Branula Kuta: Kisumu’s good doctor… fiery DJ

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Dr Elizabeth Kuta, also known as, DJ Branula or DJ Dr Kuta. 

Photo credit: Alex Odhiambo | Nation Media Group

It is a cloudy Friday afternoon. As participants rush in to fill the empty seats in the arena, the venue for the International Nurse's Day at Aga Khan Hospital lawns in Kisumu, uptown music blaring from the public address system fills the air.

Even though the programme was running late, none of the people present seemed to be bothered, thanks to the cool music.

A foot tap here, a nod there and a sing-along at the corner confirm that the person behind the music mixer understands that good music is food for the soul. 

Photo credit: Alex Odhiambo | Nation Media Group

A glance at the disk jockey's deck reveals something that catches everyone's attention. A DJ wearing a doctor's dust coat replete with a stethoscope hanging on her neck.

Meet Dr Elizabeth Kuta, also known as, DJ Branula or DJ Dr Kuta. Dr Kuta is a neonatologist and a doctor for newborn babies. Those who have met her along the hospital corridors say she is extremely good with the babies.


DJ Branula on the deck.

Photo credit: Alex Odhiambo | Nation Media Group

For 15 years, Dr Kuta has been at it, ensuring that newborns receive the best care they can get to survive the dicey formative years of life.

But beyond the hospital corridors, Ms Kuta wears another hat - she is an entertainer!

Once she hangs up her stethoscope and the doctor's dust coat, Dr Kuta picks up her headphones to pursue her other passion.

For seven years, DJ Dr Kuta has juggled the two roles, which are worlds apart.

Just the same way syringes and needles dance between her fingers is the same way they skilfully move on the mixer. Her spinning technique, knowledge, and mastery of all music genres leave many people in awe. More so when they eventually learn that she is a staff at the Aga Khan Hospital child health section. 

DJ Branula on the deck.

Photo credit: Alex Odhiambo | Nation Media Group

“Becoming a DJ had always been my dream career while growing up in Western Kenya. I, however, ended up becoming a medical doctor after doing well in my national exams,” says Dr Kuta.

Despite attending medical school, graduating as a medic, and securing a well-paying job, nothing could stop her from practising her dream career in music.

DJ Branula discloses that what she appreciates most about being a DJ is the music helps calm her nerves after a long week at work.

“Medicine happens to be my main career, but during weekends and my free time, I enjoy working as a DJ or spending time with my family,” says the medic, who adds that she is also a mother and a wife.

Dr Kuta attributes her passion for music to her father, who loved to play music over the weekend.

"However, I was not sure how to approach my parents or teachers with the idea. You know during that time, music was not considered a serious career," she says.

While still in primary school, one of her relatives planned a wedding. Dr Kuta and her two sisters were to present a song during the ceremony.

“I could tell that my sisters performed well by the response from the crowd. But when it got to my turn, I heard someone whisper that I was struggling with my vocals,” lamented Dr Kuta.

Even though she was still determined to pursue a career in music despite the poor presentation, the medic was certain that singing would not be part of that ambition.

But while selecting degree courses to pursue at the university, Dr Kuta chose civil engineering. However, her parents persuaded her to go for medicine.

“Had someone asked me at that time what I wanted to pursue, I'm telling you I could have chosen something related to music. Maybe I would have selected a course in DJ if we had such an option in the list," she says.

"What I remember however is that during those days, securing a chance to study medicine in a public university was a huge privilege.”

As fate would have it, she eventually joined Moi University, Eldoret, to study medicine. After six years, she moved to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kisumu, for an internship. That was in 2009.

Dr Kuta explains the desire to become a DJ was rekindled briefly while in Kisumu, but she could not find a school to enrol in.

When she returned to Moi University for a master's course in Pediatrics, a friend helped her to find a music school.

“I shared my dream of becoming an artist with her and despite not taking me seriously she still helped me to get into a school,” says Dr Kuta.

She enrolled at Mwafrika Sounds in Eldoret, immediately paid a third of the fees, and settled for the lessons. Although the training was to take three months, it dragged on for nine months since the medic had to balance classwork, hospital rounds and music training.

The medic says she would join her teacher during events and practice whatever she missed in class.

The doctor says by the time she graduated, she had also qualified to become a DJ.

“I find satisfaction working as a doctor, somedays, we lose, sometimes we win but the joy of treating a patient and seeing them respond to treatment can never be explained,” Dr Kuta beams.

She says that her dedication to medicine saw her win a fellowship to pursue a course in neonatology. She is the only practising neonatologist in Kisumu County.

Meanwhile, in any given free time, when not doing her research in the medical field, one is likely to find the doctor either performing at events, updating her music genre list or performing as a DJ to her close family members back in the house.

The paediatrician says working as a DJ and a health worker has helped her build a relationship that cuts across with clients.

On some occasions, she always meets some of her clients while performing with surprises written all over their faces.

“After meeting the clients out there during the gigs, interacting with them at the hospital is always quite interesting,” says Dr Kuta, who hopes to retire one day from the medical field and continue practising as a DJ.

Dr Kuta says that after hiding from her father her DJ life for years, she eventually gathered the courage to break the news to him by sending him a picture taken while she was performing.

"As expected he was appalled. He couldn't believe it at first until he saw me in action during a family event. He finally accepted and moved on, after all I am still practising the career he chose for me," she adds.

Last year, the medic had a chance to DJ for her family during her mother's graduating ceremony as a pastor.

"From their reactions, I could tell that they were happy with the performance," she says.

Dr Kuta, however, does not perform in nightclubs. This, she says, is because the crowd in clubs is always "a little complicated."

Even while performing at events over the weekends, the DJ says she always informs her colleagues to be on standby to hold in brief for her in case of emergencies.

“I also keep my phone close and advise the nurses on duty to call more than once in case I fail to pick. I am however glad that since I started practicing as a DJ, I have never had a situation that specifically requires my attention while performing in events,” says Dr Kuta.