She has been in the media industry for more than a decade and enjoyed the limelight. But for Rachel Muthoni Njeru, popularly known as Mwalimu Rachel, all that changed when she parted ways with Gengetone music group Sailors.
Rachel, who managed the group for over two years, fell out with them in 2019 after they were signed by a different record label.
Her torment started after the group accused her of denying them their YouTube channel, which had all their previous songs and millions of video views after they moved to a different label.
The Wamlambez hitmakers revealed that she had demanded more than Sh1.5 million from the group before she could release the passwords, an allegation she did not deny, saying the Sailors and their current handlers needed to pay her for her input in building and popularising their brand.
The counter-accusations sparked outrage filling her comments section with Sailors’ fans demanding she hands over their passwords.
“The negativity I have found online has really shaken me. My son and I have received death threats from the fans because of the YouTube channel,” she said.
Last week, Miracle Baby, whose real name is Peter Mwangi, a member of Sailors, accused Kenyans who keep asking about the whereabouts of the music group of pretence yet they know what was done to them.
According to him, the pretence and ‘selective amnesia’ demonstrated by Kenyans should not be entertained.
He said when the group was experiencing challenges with its then management company, no one showed up to support them.
“The whole world saw what was happening to us when we were robbed everything we had including our account, money and deals which amounted to millions of shillings,” he wrote on social media.
He added that everyone knew who wronged them but no one called them out. “You know who did it, but you all kept quiet. I don’t see why you keep asking what happened to us.”
Mwalimu Rachel denies killing their career. “I did not kill their career. People think I did and they have gone ahead and asked my bosses to fire me yet they know nothing about the story. Unfortunately, social media is the way it is and nothing can be done about that. I have always kept quiet because I’m not only protecting myself but them also. And they know this. You do not relinquish your motherly care because of turmoil, and that motherly love has always been there.”
Asked about the money they made, she says that when the pandemic hit the world, there were no gigs and the band panicked.
“My company at the time opened a savings account for them and they used to be paid a salary every month. For eight months when corona hit, that is the money we used to pay them even when they did not have any shows.”
Born and raised in Mombasa and Embu, the media personality says that the group approached her and it was not the other way round.
“They came to me when my company was doing outreach programmes for the youth. One day one of the group members Shalkido (African boy), came and introduced himself saying he was part of a bigger group.”
She says that the group asked her to share the first hit Wamlambez on her YouTube channel.
“They sent me the song on WhatsApp and later that week, I played it on the radio and people liked it.”
The University of Nairobi alumni, who double majored in sociology, language and communications, says she tried to convince them to open their own channel but they refused and said that it will take longer to get followers.
During the pandemic, she says the group signed with a new label without her consent. “As a business, that has no binding contract or agreement with a third party, would it really make sense to just hand over logins? The simple answer is – no,” she adds.
“After all it’s just business, nothing personal, but I know there’s a proper way to do it. I estimated the value of that channel and the work my team and I put in it, at Sh1.5 million (I’m starting to think I underquoted). I was charging the record label so that they can take the ownership of this channel. I was not charging Sailors.”
After all the drama, she says that she gave all their details to all the royalty collectors for them to communicate with the group so that the money collected can be sent to them. “I didn’t want a penny, whatever was remaining in the savings account I cleared and gave it to them.”
She said that they reached out to her in October. “I told them they first talk to their new label so that history doesn’t repeat itself.”
On her love life, the single mother of a boy says that despite what people say out there, she loves co-parenting. “We lived together for six years, but you know life happens and we decided we are better off co-parenting from different places and it has worked so well. We have a very good relationship and he is very much involved.”
The radio presenter was last year charged with robbery with violence at the Kikuyu Law Court alongside four others for allegedly robbing one Martin Mbugua Njeri, a friend of one of the Sailors group members of valuables worth Sh103,000.
According to the charge sheet, Ms Njeru and her accomplices allegedly committed the crime on January 17 at Kinoo, Kikuyu sub-county within Kiambu County.
Mwalimu Rachel pleaded not guilty to the charges and is out on a cash bail of Sh10,000.