You have probably heard the hit song ‘Uliza kiatu’.
The now famous Afro-fusion modern song synchronised with spoken word is literally in the air as most of us, if not all, relate to it in one way or another.
Behind the massive wave of fame are three proficient artistes.
These are Abednego Wachira Gatama, the lead band poet and painter, Mordecai Mwini, the super artiste and Kenneth Muya Mukhwana aka Kenchez, the lead band guitarist and fashion stylist.
Born over 20 years ago, Wachira says his dad hoped he would grow to become a renowned lawyer. But that did not happen.
Instead, Wachira is now one of the most fluent and illustrious spoken word artistes you could ever come across.
His talent, he says, came from his love for poetry while in high school.
He developed an admirable passion for poetry and drama as opposed to other subjects.
LOVED DRAMA AND MUSIC
He says he happily joined high school because he knew he would indulge in the drama and music.
“If the two clubs were scrapped from the co-curricular activities, I would have been the saddest student in school,” he states.
His father, however, never for once thought his son would be an artiste, Wachira says.
“My dad instilled in me, from quite a tender age, the dream of becoming a lawyer when I grew up.
“He is probably still embroiled in the stereotype that a white collar job is the only key to successes.
“But here I am, all grown and madly in love with art and music, contrary to what my parents had wanted for me,” he says.
However, he adds, it was not an easy task convincing them that he would do something different after high school.
“It was a hard convincing my parents that I wanted to pursue arts and not law as they had wished.
“It was made worse by the fact that I wanted to draw and paint. They however agreed to pay my tuition fees despite all the doubts and I enrolled at Bebea Art Centre.
“The joy was however short-lived because a few months into the college, I realised I wasn’t getting what I wanted and so I quit.
“To say my parents were disappointed is an understatement. They were furious. But I managed to calm them down and after a few weeks, I got admission into another college, Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts, where I studied design, drawing and painting,” states Wachira.
VERY FUNNY IDEA
Yet, Wachira had not fully discovered his purpose in life and to get that understanding, he reveals, he decided to wholly delve into music, an idea his mum found very funny that she even laughed at it.
“This is one of the best decisions I would say I have ever made in my life. My mum’s laughter didn’t kill me. Instead, I swore to make her proud by working hard and smart to make it in music.
“God wouldn’t have given me better band mates. They have shaped my dream and together, we are headed beyond the skies. We want to be the best in music and poetry,” Wachira states confidently, adding that Mordecai and Ken are his best friends whom he depends on in terms of music and many other things.
He goes on to applaud their fans for accepting their unique genre of music and the trio is glad they are loving it.
During that period before joining college immediately after High school, the quite humorous and jovial Wachira says, he joined the Royal Travelling Theatre where his acting career started.
MET AT KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE
This continued until late 2012 when he met with Mordecai and Ken at the Kenya National Theatre, famously known as KNT.
As if the heavens had conspired for them to meet, they happened to audition and participate in a play with different roles.
“I happened to be a judge in a cancer awareness play where Wachira and Kenchezz had come for auditions. The play had music, drama and poetry themes.
“This was our point of realisation and our chemistry as artistes started. Our love for music, drama and poetry was mutual.
“We shared our ideas and we have never looked back since,” recalls Mordecai, the other member of the band and a first born in a family-of-three.
He adds that a friendship based on their individual talents was born and as they continued spending time together they have grown to become best of friends and stuck together like blood brothers.
The trio, Mordecai affirms, realised they had similar talents. They all were into spoken word and poetry, music, comedy and fashion and almost everything they did rhymed, hence the pull to form a band.
“We did not decide to become a band. It took us about six months to blend well and perform together as a band.
In February, 2013 we came up with our group name H_art and introduced it to the Kenyan music industry when we recorded and release our first song “Uliza Kiatu”,” says Mordecai who is also in his early 20s.
He adds: “H_art was derived from the word ‘heart’. Basically we do art from the heart. We have created a language best understood not by the mind but by the heart,” says the art and design student.
This enthralling group writes their own music from their own life experiences.
They are also motivated by other people’s experiences. As Kenchez, the third member of the band, points out, they all contribute in writing lyrics for their music.
His specific role mostly involves creating the beats for their songs because of his expertise on the guitar.
“I am a lover of art with an interest in music, and drama. I was looking for life in that direction and when the three of us met, I have been living art since then.
“Being the band’s lead guitarist, one would think I went to school for it. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I simply learnt from watching other people play the guitar and within no time I could pluck a string or two.
“An uncle of mine was also a guitarist so I learnt a great deal from him. Today, the beats just flow when we are doing music,” states Kenchez.
Kenchez goes on to add that he was always the active child and could be found either conducting the morning assembly singing sessions in school, storytelling or making jokes.
It made it very easy for him to take up acting in high school as his talent, he notes, was promptly spotted due to his outgoing and talkative nature.
“I worked for a short while after high school but my love for music saw me join Kayamba Fiesta as the band’s bass one.
“Together with Wachira, we would visit schools doing plays and thanks to a guitar I had been given by a friend, we could play music as Wachira dropped the lyrics.
“We also had a travelling theatre for about two years, and all the experience we had acquired kept going for auditions. During one of Dove Arts auditions, we met the other member of the group Mordecai and I was amazed by how well he could sing,” says Kenchez.
He adds that they fell in love with what they were doing and they went ahead to write a lot of songs that saw them performing in shows and charity events where they could pocket a little money.
“We eventually got to join the Sauti Academy Penya Kenya and enrolled for a one year course. That has been our greatest opportunity due to the vast training we got in music.
“It was after this that we released our hit song ‘Uliza Kiatu’, which has received enormous air play as well as ‘Nikikutazama’,” he says adding that it has been a difficult but a great journey.
Moreover, H_art’s music is largely inspired by spoken word and poetry.
“We know our fans matter a lot to us and we assure them we are aware of what they expect from us.
“Our families too cannot go unmentioned as they have been our greatest support and pillars of strength. Watch our space and you will be charmed,” they conclude.