By Daisy Okoti
Published May 28, 2012
Sanaipei Tande, a Kenyan radio presenter, recently resigned from her job to concentrate on music. Tande had been a presenter at Nairobi’s Kiss FM radio station for about seven years; she cited her job as the major obstacle to her music career when asked to explain her apparent underperformance. She said radio presentation left her very little time to make music.
Sanaipei Tande came into the Kenyan limelight as a contestant in the Coca Cola Pop Stars talent search in 2004. Upon being declared one of the winners, she abandoned her Pharmacy studies at the Kenya Medical Training Institute as she teamed up with two others from that talent search to form Sema, a group whose aim was to help nurture their singing talent and turn them into pop stars. The group recorded an album with 17 songs but disintegrated soon after in 2005. Tande says the break up was due to what she terms as intrusive management and incompatibility among the three band members: Pamela Waithaka, Kevin Waweru and herself.
After the break up, very little was written about Sanaipei Tande in terms of her singing career. Eventually, she joined Capital FM radio in Nairobi as a presenter, a move she says was encouraged by a friend. She later moved to Kiss FM after a short time. It was while at Kiss FM that she recorded a few songs but not an album. Some of the songs she has recorded include Najuta (I Regret), Niwe wako (I am Yours), Kwaheri (Goodbye), mulika mwizi (Expose a Thief) and mtoto wa geti kali. She sings mainly in Kiswahili and her themes largely concentrate on male and female relationships. In Najuta, for instance, she talks about a lover who listened to rumours and ended her relationship with her lover only to realize, when it was too late, that she had been misled. Most of her other songs are produced in collaboration with musicians such as Jua Cali, Big Pin and Kidum.
Sanaipei Tande’s story is similar to that of many artists that rise from talent searches that seem to spring up on a daily basis. In Eastern Africa, there is the much hailed Tusker Project Fame and many others that do not fail to declare winners at the end of each search. These winners get so many awards like recording contracts and cash prizes from corporate bodies but are soon forgotten as they fail to live up to expectation. One such musician is Valerie Kimani who, though having won a music recording contract with Gallo Records of South Africa, has failed to glitter.
Perhaps afraid of being cited as a statistic of what never was, this is what may have driven Tande to her resignation from her radio presenter’s job. She knows she has a lot to do in order to convince her fans that she is indeed a pop star who can live up to their expectations.
She says she regrets the fact that she got into too much clubbing at some point in her life and this almost wrecked what she had worked so hard for (her radio career) but she is thankful to her parents in their relentless efforts to keep her on the right track.