Embarambamba dances his way to top of charts

Kisii County governor James Ongwae joins Christopher Mosioma, better known by the stage name Embarambamba, for a jig during a past public function.

Photo credit: Benson Momanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • His unique identity has seen him rise to become the top musician in the Gusii region, 16 years after he choose a career in music over further schooling.
  • Embarambamba, who is a father of four, says that it has taken him years to reach the top.

You might have seen him in a video with his characteristic polka-dotted suit singing a gospel song as he dances in a pool of mud. As he performs, he wriggles, jumps, dashes about and shouts.

Then he swirls with enough energy to stop a raging bull.

One day he danced so vigorously at a national celebration in front of President Uhuru Kenyatta that security orderlies were worried he would storm the presidential podium. They not only strained him but also called a doctor to evaluate his mentals.

The musical and dancing prowess of Christopher Mosioma, better known by his musical name Embarambamba, is something that baffles.

It is this unique identity which has seen him rise to become the top musician in the Gusii region, 16 years after he choose a career in music over further schooling.

“I just wanted to sing,” Embarambamba told Saturday Nation this week. He recalls how he concentrated on finishing his first album instead of revising for KCPE exams in 2004.

The results were expected: He emerged among the bottom in his class, scoring a sprinkling of marks in the KCPE exams that, if converted to cash, were just enough to buy a few eggs.

But, the album titled Ensanako Twebwati Maskani (an ant does not have respect) was a masterpiece and propelled him to fame. He was just 16.

After this, Embarambamba recorded five other albums before quitting secular music to join the gospel fraternity.

His second album, which came out in 2017, is titled Gento Nkeri Ekebe Buna Chinchoke Chigoite Kore Omouko (There is nothing as bad as bees attacking a blind man).

This was followed by Gento Nkeri Ekebe Onyore Eng’ti Nyomba Etaye Erime (There is nothing as bad as finding a snake in your house and then the lights go off), released in 2009.

Advancing Abagusii language

A year later, he released his fourth album titled Ngai Nanyore Omochumbe (Where can I find a representative), which was more of a campaign song.

This was followed by the fifth album titled Gento Nkeiyo Ekebe Otang’anie Omotino Nyomba Igo oratenge Amatindogoro (There is nothing as bad as having a dumb man in the house and you come home late when he is asleep and expect him to open the door for you).

In 2014, he released the album Gento Nkeri Ekebe Oanche Omonto Otagoancheti (There is nothing as bad as loving someone who doesn’t love you).

The use of metaphors in his songs has been a study in literature classes and has been hailed as a way of advancing and preserving the Abagusii language.

For instance, in the research paper “A cognitive approach to Ekegusii pop songs” published by the journal Advances in Languages and Literary Studies, Karatina University dons Victor Ntabo, Moses Gathigia and Naom Nyarigoti discuss Embarambamba’s song Amasomo (education) to explain the use of metaphors in the Ekegusii pop songs.

It is after his last secular album released in 2014 that Embarambamba stayed for some years without producing any music before announcing that he had embraced gospel music.

“After 2014, I performed comedy alongside a comedian known as Mzee Kijana before I dreamt in 2018 that I needed to start doing gospel music,” the musician, who says that his music is inspired by dreams, says.

The journey to gospel has been a successful one with his two songs Yeso Moyo Are (Jesus is alive) and Omwana Onyasae Akong’ita Obote (The son of God gives me cravings) rocking the airwaves.

“I am sourcing for funds to produce my third gospel song," Embarambamba says.

Thousands of views

The songs are some of the most popular in radio stations. They have also drawn thousands of views on YouTube and you can’t go to a social function without hearing them being played.

In YouTube, Omwana Onyasae Akong’ita Obote is about to reach a half a million views coming third after the other popular Gusii songs like Nyayaeteire (Erick Mwaniki, 937,000 views) and Moyo ye (Douglas Otiso, 543,000 views) which were released years before.

When compared to secular songs, it competes on YouTube with Chimbeba (507,000 views), Babu Gee and Miggy Champ) and Esimi/Ning’o ase ore (541,000 views, Babu Gee and Forever Young).

The musician defends his controversial dance moves in the gospel songs.

“I have sang and danced like this for a long time. Some people think that I am crazy and that I take drugs. There is no madness in my dancing and I don’t drink or take drugs. I have increased energy in my dancing as a result of God’s power,” Embarambamba says.

Born in 1988, in a family of nine where is the last born, Embarambamba, who is now a father of four, says that it has taken him years to reach the top.

He is now listed as among other top Gusii musicians who include Sagero Man Pepe, Kwasakwasa, Sungusia, Douglas Otiso, Babu Gee, Mombinya, Smalls Lethal, Virusi, Fenny Kerubo, Dennis Mpole, Nyabayo, Miggy Champ, Mr Ong’eng’o, Sabby Okeng'o, Abagosabusia (Bundi Senior), Miriri (Yariki), Oruraare, Majoge B, Monyocho and Nyakeyo Band.