Mike Rúa sets high bar for 'naughty' Mugithi music in Mt Kenya

Mike Rua

Mugithi musician Mike Rua.

Photo credit: Courtesy

The king of lewd Mugithi lyrics and a guitar wizard Mike Rúa is a self-proclaimed social animal with a loyal following.

Rúa, who mostly plays his music in private functions in homes and in select bars, defends his use of some words, considered obscene by others, as part of language.

The musician, who has an almost fanatical following, tells Nation Life&Style, “I do nothing bad...I did not create those words. They are words in our mother tongue. It is only that I do use them whereas others have opted to condemn them from daily life.”

Owing to their sexuality explicit lyrics, most of his songs are mainly played in bars in the late hours of the night, sometimes after midnight.

Known for his ever jovial mood, generosity and cracking of 'silly' jokes, Rúa says he entertains a thought that "God loves me, loves my music and also is my top fan".

So unique is Mr Rúa such that so far no other artiste has followed in his musical footsteps.

“I am afraid that should Mr Rúa exit the stage through retirement or natural attrition, he would leave a musical gaping hole with no one to fill...He is one of his kind and no one else has shown an interest to succeed him,” says Mr James Munene, former chair of Creative Arts Composers and Producers Association.

Born in Gatundu North constituency, Rúa was admitted to the prestigious Mang'u High School but due to lack of school fees, he joined a local day school.

He began singing as a young boy and would often ‘entertain’ goats at home with his songs. He did not have much at the beginning and he “stole” his first guitar from a church to launch his young singing career. “I even stole a Catholic Church guitar to launch my musical career and for Form One reporting shoes, I stole my grandmother's rubber shoes.”

But he does not regret his early start in life.

Today, he is an accomplished Mugithi musician who says that he had to package himself in a unique manner to fend off competition and “so far so good, none wants to compete with me.”

He remains a sought-after yet costly artiste in the Mugithi scene, charging between Sh50,000 and Sh200,000 per night to appear in live shows.

“But it is all about negotiations...There are considerations...this is business and concessions can be made. This is a willing buyer-willing seller guided world,” he adds.

Rúa grew up wishing to be a musical Don Carlos and in the early 1990s he teamed up with Queen Jane's band as a base guitarist.

He left the group in 2000 to venture into his own production and is the pioneer of the one-man guitar scene in Mt Kenya.

In 2001 and 2002 he performed in America and Britain at the invitation of Mt Kenyans living abroad.

He says he is not worried of competition because he feels no artiste can emulate him.

“What matters is that I will have run my own race the best way I know how and with maximised gain,” he concludes.

Rúa is married and has three children.

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