By Prudence Minayo
Tony Nyadundo is a celebrated Kenyan musician. He is referred to as the King of Ohangla music, a name he has earned courtesy of his unparalleled talent in the genre and hard work. The musician’s rise to stardom was not a walk in the park. Along the way, he faced challenges and had to overcome them to become the man he is today.
Nyadundo’s songs command a huge audience both in Kenya and across the borders. The originality, dance and lyrics definitely add to the allure of his songs.
The gifted musician was born in Kai, Tanzania alongside his twin sister. Unfortunately, his twin sister Apiyo passed away.
In 1978, his family relocated to Kenya and settled in a place called Nyahera which is in Kisumu town. His father worked in Kongoni, Nzoia. The family lived in poverty.
The musician was once married but was separated from the wife in 1994. The wife left after being warned that musicians were never faithful and led a promiscuous life. He had two children with his ex-wife who were under his custody.
It is not clear whether the singer is married at the moment. In a past interview, he said he was in no rush to marry again as most women were following him due to his fame.
The King of Ohangla attended Kongoni Primary School and then joined Bugembe Secondary School in 1985. A year after joining secondary school, he dropped out due to lack of school fees.
The journey to fame for this musician was riddled with a lot of ups and downs. Before becoming the famous king of Ohangla, he had to be patient and put in a lot of hard work.
For as long as he can remember, he had a passion for music but after dropping out of school, he did a few stints before getting into full time music.
After leaving school, he joined his brother Jack and worked as a tailor. In 1992, he quit the tailoring business since the income was very little.
He then tried his luck working as a deejay. At the time, had not even thought of singing Ohangla as it was associated with dirges and illicit brew drinkers. At one point, they went to play music at Amagoro and some ohangla musicians were called to play. They took center stage and the crowd’s response to them was overwhelming. He told his brother, who was still a tailor, about this experience upon returning home.
One day his brother travelled to Kisumu and met a group of Ohangla musicians. They struck a cord and he joined them as he was a gifted singer. Jack then invited him to recruit the female dancers but he was not so keen in joining them.
This changed when he was invited to a function in Nakuru. He came back home and his house had been broken into and most of his deejay equipment were missing. Thus, he joined his brother and worked as a bouncer where he was also in charge of gate collections. It was at this time that he felt he too could sing. He started practicing immediately his brother would finish performing. It was at this time that he started composing his own songs and people urged him to focus on singing.
The King of Ohangla needed to leave his brother’s band to realize his dreams. He moved to Tanzania where he stayed with his sister. Raising money was not easy, therefore, he went home to his father and explained his dream. He was given a bull which he sold and raised money. The money bought him an amplifier and he returned to Tanzania.
The lyricist then recruited members and formed a band. They raised ksh1,200 only during their first performance. He was granted a permit under the cultural services to perform in Mwanza for a year.
In 1998, he moved back to Kenya and played in Migori. The reception was much better than Tanzania. The band disintegrated when the dancers eloped with fishermen and others became fishermen.
He formed another band but after a while they all joined fishing including him. At the end of the year, he re-awakened his music and met Onyi Papa Jey and brought him on board.
In 1999, he moved to Dandora, Nairobi where he invested in instruments and also started playing the keyboard. He performed in bars and used to be paid depending on the number of beer bottles sold although some bars would dupe him. Life became harder and he moved back to Kisumu
At the time, his brother had gained massive fame. At one point, a promoter organized an event where the two would share a stage for the first time. He won the hearts of many and was encouraged to put his music in a CD by the then Kisumu Nation Media Group Chief bureau Owino Opondo. Therefore, he released his first album in 2002.
The album gained him a lot of fame and he was invited to a number of event.
In 2006, he released his third album titled Obama.
In 2007, he went on his first international trip thanks to Kenyans living in Germany.
In 2009, the government sponsored his trip to the United States where he performed in the inaugural ceremony of Barack Obama. This has been followed by a number of other releases and he has cemented his place as the king of Ohangla in Kenya.
Tony Nyadundo has release a lot of songs including:
- Mapenzi kizunguzungu
- Ndoa ya mapenzi
- Atieno oberana
- Dala go mama nyiri boyo
- Suba nyiri beyo
- Sauti yangu