Just hours before she delivered her second child, former Queen of Chakacha, Princess Faridah talked to PASSION’s Antony Ongalo about her road to Damascus.
She may have changed her music genre from secular to gospel but she is still as charming and radiant as ever. When PASSION got a tip that she was about to be admitted to hospital to deliver a child, we had no choice but to catch up with the once revered Queen of Chakacha, Princess Faridah Migwalla.
Hours before she gave birth on Thursday, 15 July at the Pumwani Hospital in Nairobi she spoke to us about life, music and family.
Princess Faridah was widely known for the gyrating hips that she moved so effortlessly to the chakacha beat. Her prowess took her around the world as she entertained and enthralled audiences.
In 2001, at the peak of her career, she shocked her dedicated fan base when she not only retired from the stage but also converted to Christianity from Islam.
“I am about to mark my tenth anniversary in salvation with the launch of my debut Christian album and a book I authored. The book is about my journey to salvation,” says Faridah, who is married to Mr Isaac Migwalla, a man she met in church, and wedded in 2004.
The 10-track album, Kiumbe Kipya, was recorded at Robert Kamanzi’s studio in Nairobi. Some of the tracks include Kiumbe Kipya, Maisha Bila Wewe, God is Good and YesuAnitosha which features Groove Award winner Daddy Owen.
Seven years down the line. Princess Faridah is still very much in love with her husband. “It gets better and better everyday. I do not regret getting married and I thank God for giving me a man who is loving and understanding,” she says, as she hugs Isaac, who is seated on her hospital bed.
Shortly after we spoke. Princess Faridah gave birth to her second child, a bouncing baby girl named Hadassa Migwalla. Hadassa is Hebrew for Esther. “We have been blessed as a family and as a society. This is why I will keep on glorifying God’s name through music and preaching,” says Princess Faridah, who for eight months of her pregnancy was visiting schools, colleges and churches to sing and pray.
Even though she could afford the services of a private hospital, she chose Pumwani Hospital, an institution that has been embroiled in allegations of malpractice for years. But Dr Fridah Govedi, the chief executive officer, insists that the institution has been treated unfairly.”We want other people to emulate Princess Faridah and seek services at Pumwani.”
Up to 1500 women deliver at Pumwani every month and Ward Four, where Princess Faridah spent almost a week after she delivered, will be named after her.
During the interview, Isaac kept a watchful eye on his wife.”She is the love of my life. She may be a big name both within and without the country, but I thank God that she has submitted to me.
During courtship, I was jealous of all the attention she was getting but I soon got used to it. I believe ours is a marriage made in heaven,” he says as he reaches for Princess Faridah, who at this point in to our interview, has started going in to labour.
Three hours later, she was holding baby Hadassa in her arms. To give mother and child time to bond we postpone the interview and return the next day when we easily pick up from where we left off.
As far as music goes, Princess Faridah does not regret joining the gospel sorority. “The age when you would not hear gospel music in a public service vehicle or a club is long gone. Unfortunately, people appreciate our songs, but hardly buy our music. That is why most musicians here are not well off, unless they have the support of family or are lucky to have somebody supporting them from abroad.
“Locally, it is very difficult for all of us. There is a lot of piracy, although the authorities are trying to reduce it. But there are many gospel musicians who are working really hard and I think the future is very bright.”
In 2000, Princess Faridah was compelled to go to church to seek healing from ulcers. “I don’t know why I went to church because I was a Muslim at the time, but I went and I was healed.”
Then in November, 2001 while airborne from Dubai to Nairobi, she had another encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “While I was on the plane, I had a dream of people wearing white robes. They were singing hymns but when I tried to join them, I was restrained by a spiritual power which told me that I was not clean enough to do so.”
She says it was then that God spoke to her. “My Daughter, where will you go if this plane crashes?” At the top of her voice she shouted, “‘Heaven!’ I believe God wanted to use me to change the world but I still had a tough time explaining to my band mates that I was leaving.”
Breaking the news to her family was not any easier. “It came as a shock to the family when I announced that I wanted to convert. They even threatened to disown me, but this did not bother me for I knew that the Lord was on my side,” she states with finality.