Mugithi is a popular genre of music that has its roots in the Mt Kenya region of Kenya. Usually, it involves one musician who is armed with a guitar pelting songs in Kikuyu language. This genre has been dominated by Samuel Muchoki, popularly known as Samidoh, who started his career in 2016. He earned the title of ‘King of the Mugithi jangle’ and has inspired the younger generation to join the industry. One of the young talents is John Waithaka Mwangi alias Waithaka wa Jane who is now giving him a run for his money, one year since he joined the industry.
Here is the full story as told by WoK.
Waithaka wa Jane was born in 1998 in Mathioya in Murang’a County. The form three drop out is the lastborn in a family of eight – two sisters and six brothers. He joined the music industry in 2016, playing drum sets and guitar for veteran musician Mr Pato Wa Gathoni. He made a commitment to learn the craft first before going solo.
“While performing in the media houses, I quickly realized that musical oldies (Ngogoyo) were well loved and I made a commitment to master as many as possible,” he told Nation.
Waithaka went all out as a solo artist in 2020. However, with the pandemic hitting the economy hard, gigs dried. But he chose to continue working hard, even sacrificing by taking low pay as the government banned all live gatherings and shutting down all entertainment joints.
“I was approached by several vernacular radio stations. Since I was an upcoming artiste, I was ready to take low pay given that everyone else was affected by the pandemic. I went into the shows to build my name and the tactic has paid off,” he stated.
His career started taking shape in early 2021 and he has since taken the industry by storm dethroning veteran mugithi artist Samidoh. The 24 year old is now a highly sought after one-man guitarist in Nairobi and the Mount Kenya region. His music has become a common feature in bars and matatus. He has released both gospel and secular hits which are accessible in audio and audio-visual formats. During an interview with Nation, Waithaka explained that he is now booked three months in advance.
“It is God…I do not consider myself better than anyone else. I am not in competition but I hit the chords and the mic determined to be better by every dawn. The hard work is paying off since I am booked three months in advance,” he explained.
Waithaka however clarified that he has no blood towards Samidoh and he acknowledges him for the path he created for young mugithi artists.
“I might be gaining huge popularity here in Mt Kenya region but Samidoh performs even abroad. I am happy that I am now treated as the new king here at home…but I am playing catch-up to Samidoh,” he stated.
While wa Jane is making grassroots moves and becoming even more popular by the day, Samidoh told Nation that he recognizes him as a talented musician with a bright future ahead of him.
“I support him…We found great names in the industry, we had our time, we are not permanent and others will keep rising. This is a field of fast changing fortunes. This time you are up and this other time you are down. It is all in the game. Wisdom is to cash in on the glorious moment and get fortitude to handle the waning trend. We are all doing fine as per prevailing circumstances,” he said.