How Kenyan man, 63, daughter use TikTok dance moves to redefine fatherhood

Cynthia Wanjiru

Cynthia Wanjiru and her father Joseph Githinji during an interview at Nation Centre Nairobi on June 15, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

 In African culture, fathers often embody an aura of authority and strict discipline, their role traditionally steeped in sternness and perceived as a symbol of fear.
But Joseph Githinji, 63, has become a pioneer in revolutionising the concept of fatherhood and parenthood in general.

He is defying societal expectations and forging a new narrative by embracing his children's interests and seeking to be relatable.

@cindygithinji2 Replying to @Slayking Kingwasafi ♬ original sound - Cindy

Through his dance moves, his swag and his genuine enthusiasm, he breaks down barriers and transforms the notion of a distant father figure into one who is accessible, understanding and actively involved in his children's lives.

He glides gracefully across the dance floor, singing along to the songs of the younger generation and attempting to mimic the dance moves of the original composer. A combination of old-school charm and a genuine effort to embrace the music his children listen to.
The father-daughter bond is palpable, as they share not only a love of singing songs but also a deep connection that transcends generational divides.

From every video recorded and posted on TikTok by his daughter Cynthia Wanjiru, 27, to the overwhelming comments about how cool the 63-year-old is, his willingness to break conventional boundaries and foster stronger connections is evident.
In an interview with Nation. Africa, the retired Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company employee and familiar face in TV programme Vioja Mahakamani dresses like a rapper, complete with necklaces, cap, durag and sunglasses.

"My love for art started when I was in primary school. My parents lived in Bahati (Nairobi), an area where most talented people came from," he says.
While he loved art, acting and entertaining people through comedy at the time, Mr Githinji reveals that his love for music was fueled by having a beer or two in pubs.

Joseph Karanja,

Joseph Karanja,(left) Tiktoker Joseph Githinji and her daughter Cynthia Wanjiru during an interview at Nation Centre Nairobi on June 15, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

"I would dance and sing to a song while in these pleasure zones and everyone would be stunned by my performance, even when I visit different places," he reveals.
With his cheerful nature and love of music captivating not only strangers but also her daughter, Cynthia decided to share the moments with her dad.
Her innocent post attracted millions to her account.

First song

When Mary Wangeshi, popularly known as Ngesh, composed Kaveve Kazoze, she captured the attention of not only the youth but also the elderly.

Cash crop za Nyandarua ni mawaru" (potatoes) was what touched Mr Githinji's heart.  

"I live in Njabini, Kinangop and our cash crop is potatoes. The song sings about our bumper harvest."

The video, which has over 50,000 likes on TikTok, was posted on Saturday, 3 June 2023. Although Mr Githinji did not sing the lyrics word for word, he warmed Cynthia's fans.

Through its melodic language, the music weaves a tapestry of emotions that transcends borders and erases differences, reminding us that deep down, we all share a common rhythm.
Mr Githinji shares that he only jams to songs that he likes and that have a message.

Although he does not have a specific genre that he listens to, the father of four explains that if the song warms his heart, he makes it his life's mission to find out the lyrics.

"Even when I go for a walk or go to the bus station to get into a car, I will always sing along to songs," he says.
Like rain and water, Mr Githinji and music are inseparable. "I love to sit on the passenger seat when I'm in a matatu and if I like a song being played, I will ask the driver to repeat it and even if I don't fully understand the words, I will hum along to the tune."


When Cynthia posted the video of her father dancing and singing Kaveve Kazoze, she thought it was hilarious. After explaining what she was doing before and after recording the video, Cynthia says the response was reassuring.

Although her last born, Damaris Githinji, had once shared a video of her and Mr Githinji singing a song and the reception was the same, she was not consistent in showing that kind of content.
Now that Cynthia is branding her TikTok content with her dad singing songs from the younger generation, she reveals that she almost always gets requests for songs for her dad to jam to.
"We don't do all the requests, we allow him to sing to the ones he feels comfortable with," she says.

Tiktoker Joseph Githinji

Tiktoker Joseph Githinji.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Mr Githinji's appearance is that of an artist. His looks are shaped and put together by Cynthia's husband, Joseph Karanja.
He says that although his father is dead, his father-in-law has filled the gap. As he picks out the swag for his father-in-law to wear, he admits that sometimes he is reluctant to do so.

 "All factors considered, we wanted him to be a cool dad and his vibe and presence had to reflect that," he explains.

Unaware of the "vibe" associated with his dress code, Mr Githinji, whose addiction to sheng is quite advanced, explains that he is called to make people happy.

Mingling with young people has also improved his command of the language.
"I always try to put a smile on people's faces so they can forget their stress. I don't do it for the money".

Future plans

Mr Githinji says that although he supports his daughter to reach a certain number of followers, he has his own YouTube channel.

He plans to encourage other young people to discover and perfect their talents.

"I want to compose and record my own song. If I can dance and sing to another artists’ songs and it blows up, what if I compose my own?"
Mr Githinji is grateful for the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), which he says has fostered a worldview that values children's talents and encourages parental involvement in their learning.

He explains that being an approachable and receptive father is key to any father-child relationship.

As Father's Day approaches, his message to other fathers is to be present in their children's lives.

"This is not a day for you to go to a club by yourself, to have a meal with your children and wife, or to go to a fun place," he says.