Backsliding: Singer Kamande wa Kioi dumps pulpit for disco floors

Kamande wa Kioi

A screenshot of Kamande wa Kioi in the music video for his song 'Kaba Tumaica Tuega'.

Photo credit: Courtesy | Kamande wa Kioi via YouTube

Four years after pledging to be a born again Christian, Benga artiste Marc Kamande wa Kioi has left the gospel music industry for the secular one, saying “life is personal” and “music is business”.

After he got seriously sick in 2018 and underwent surgery for collapsing kidneys, he decided to get born again, Kioi told Nation Life&Style.

“I knew that I had to flee to Jesus to escape Satan. I even released several gospel hits to consolidate my newfound secure God’s fold...It is that move that saved me from death in a 2019 road accident,” he said.

“But I have reconsidered. For me to remain relevant, I have to return to secular music.”

He added that within the next few days, he will release a new secular track “and the typical me will be back”.

Typical wa Kioi is known for highly suspect political songs that have, in some instances, seen him arrested and charged in court for hate speech. He was, however, acquitted of the charges.

In the 2007 elections, he contested his native Maragua constituency parliamentary seat on Kamlesh Pattni's Kenda party and garnered 8,432 votes. He, however, lost the election.

He supported William Ruto’s presidential bid in the August 2022 election and says that the president “will sponsor me to write my book that I will name ‘Adventures of Wa Kioi’ and which will capture my life so far.”

One of the stories he plans to tell in the book is how a toothless man ‘bit’ his cheek in 2010 “and the pain that went with the ordeal made me pee on myself.”

Wa Kioi is also a highly rates comical who sings about petty things and issues that ordinary people encounter on daily basis. He has sang about sulphur burps, mating bulls and cats, as well as Nairobi sewer system.

“I know wa Kioi as a musician with a problem growing up...Anytime I hear his track starting, I automatically start smiling since he never disappoints in making a fool of everyone and everything,” says Mr Njoroge Kiama who chairs the Murang'a Artistic Composers Association (Maca). 

Wa Kioi concedes that “unfortunately or fortunately that is me and it is my trademark that has made me a unique brand.”

In production circles, he is rated as a guitar wizard whose fingers were specifically created for the chords.

Wa Kioi has five children and two wives – married in 1995 and 2003 – but he is yet to solemnise the marriages.

The sixth born in the family of eight, wa Kioi was born in 1972 and has served in the National Police Service where he was enlisted in 1990 and posted to the Kenya Police band as a guitarist.

The band was disbanded in 1993 and he was posted to the dogs' section as a handler where he served for a year.

Wa Kioi resigned in 1996 and his severance kitty was Sh47,000 which he invested in the transport sector by buying an old matatu plying the Nairobi-Lunga Lunga route.

In the same year, he was nearly lynched in Nairobi's Eastlands after he was mistaken for a pickpocket.

“Unfortunately, I was dressed in a navy blue tracksuit which was similar to the one an alleged pickpocketer was wearing. The mob wanted to lynch me but police arrived in the nick of time and saved my precious life,” he says.

The artiste continued to work in the transport sector for four years before he ventured into the music industry in 2000.

His debut album Mami Nikii Wekire Baba? (Mum, what happened to dad?) was produced in 2000. A year later, Kioi released the song Parapara (noise).

In 2002, he released a mega hit Kanyau Gakwa (my cat) and the following year he released Thie Uhike (go get married). 

In 2004, he released the award-winning album, Karanga Chapo

Wa Kioi has over 300 songs and he says he will not stop singing and producing music. “And in death, I will team up with the dead crooners to start a band there in the skies or under there in the soil,” he adds.

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