Article by Phylis Luganda with Ogova Ondego
AbdillahiÂ KisashaÂ Asumani, a Kenyan poet who considers the late South African reggae musician Lucky Philip Dube, Congolese singer Mbilia Bel and former South African president Nelson Mandela as his role models, has a new music album in the ‘Mambo Fleva’ style on the Kenyan market. PHYLIS LUGANDA with OGOVA ONDEGO writes.
Asumani says it took him three months to write, record, produce and release the 10-track Wangu album whose music he refers to as Mambo Fleva.
“The tracks in Wangu album cut across all age groups. All the tracks are informative and entertaining,” says Asumani who records under the stage name Abdicie.
“This is my second album after my debut release–an Islamic music recording called Wasifu wa Kiislamu,’ he says.
Listening to Wangu, there is little doubt that it was done by a person used to reciting or singing Kiswahili poetry.
So what is Wangu about?
Written, performed and produced by Abdicie and featuring C-Gee, Wangu tackles subjects like patriotism, success, motherhood, love, praise and gossip.
The lead song, Homeland, praises the beauty of Africa, her friendly and welcoming people, and endowment with natural resources, eye-pleasing sceneries and relaxing atmosphere.
While Mlezi, the second song, calls for respect for one’s parents, Fahamu urges people to weigh their words first before uttering them.
The fourth song, Uwezo, says that people are gifted differently and that there is no need for one to be jealous of a person who appears to be better than they.
Wangu is a love ballad in which two people pledge love for each other.
While Mabeste appears to be tailor-made for the hip-hop, Sheng-speaking urban youth, Belenga calls upon people to take heart and rejoice.
Wakenya praises Kenya just as Homeland does for Africa. Kenya is a great nation, the singers say. Her citizens live peacefully with peace, love and unity guiding them in caring for one another. Wild animals, too, live happily and peacefully in the national parks in the country.
While Maneno explains how humans, gifted with the ability to reason, can do just about anything, Bahati advises people to work hard in order to succeed in life.
The music by Abdicie and C-Gee is not only entertaining but also educational and informative. These songs may appeal to Africans just as much to foreigners.
The titles of the songs rhyme with what the songs are about making the theme of the songs relevant. Repetition of words and some phrases in most of the songs has been used making it easier for the listeners to enjoy the songs and even sing along should they desire to do so.
Although the beats may stylistically vacillate from one song to the next, but the voices of the singers appear not to produce a pleasing effect. It seems that the performers are forcing themselves to sing and were it not for the arrangement of the instruments that gives their words a semblance of music, theirs could have remained just that: poetry recitory. Abdicie and C-Gee could benefit from some vocal training.
Also the issues addressed in the songs can easily be ignored by people since they are the mundane every day’s issues in life. Some songs like Mabeste and Belenga may not be worth being on the album since they have very little or no creative message to be conveyed to people.
One may also question why Abdicie and C-Gee have used almost the same words in Homeland and Wakenya only referring to Kenya instead of Africa as a whole; couldn’t the two songs have been merged?
Abdicie was born in 1971 and grew up in Cheptais Division in the currently volatile Mount Elgon District in western Kenya. Seventh in a family of nine siblings, Abdicie says he embraced the Islamic faith at an early age.
While attending Machakha Intermediate Roman Catholic Primary School, Abdicie’sÂ “partial involvement in the school choir” was to prepare him for Kiswahili poetry upon joining Cheptais Boys High School.
“During my years in high school, I actively found myself being pulled towards the world of entertainment,” he says, adding that the ‘Shairi Guni’ he wrote about his school while he was in Form One was published by Taifa Leo newspaper of Nairobi.
Abdicie joined the Drama and Kiswahili clubs that, he says, helped hone his performance skills.
When he joined the National Youth Service for a six-month training course in 1992,Â Abdicie says this opportunity presented him with the opportunity to hone his Kiswahili poetry skills further as all recruits were asked to come up with Kiswahili poems to be presented during the passing out parade.
“To me this was an excellent opportunity to prove myself that I was still smart in mashairi writing. I composed my poem entitled, Wapi Tatia Ubavu Kenya Ikichafuka, that was presented during the pass-out parade presided over by the then President, Daniel arap Moi,” he says.
A songwriter, singer and actor, Abdicie says creativity flows through his family.
“My late father used to sing and play the string instrument while entertaining his guests and friends. My involvement in entertainment therefore,” he says, “may be said to be a gift inherited from the family.”
Abdicie, who says he avoids confrontational situationÂ of any kind, says he admires retired South African president Nelson Mandela. “Mandela is focused, visionary, principled and persistent. He is not selfish as a person because he dedicated his life fighting for the freedom of his country, which he only led for one term as president and then stepped down,” he says.
Married with three sons, Abdicie is a purchasing officer with an international humanitarian organisation based in Nairobi, Kenya.