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Walter Mong’are, Nyambane: Linda Muthama is actually my wife

Passion For Life Magazine – September 2011

The versatile Linda Muthama

LINDA MUTHAMA needs little introduction as far as music is concerned. She has a passion for music and wastes no time to make it clear that music runs in her blood.

For starters, Linda was a finalist in the first edition of Tusker Project Fame, and is also the face of Jitambue Leo, an HIV and Aids awareness campaign which featured other artistes. The campaign has been running since 2009.

“I was born in a family of musicians. My father is a music teacher and a choirmaster while my mother is an active member of the church choir,” says Linda, who emerged third during the first edition of Tusker Project Fame. She says her father inspired her most and this is why when she joined Kahuhia Primary School in Kiambu, she was already set on what she wanted to do in life. She started shaping her career immediately by singing in the choir and representing her school in different competitions.

“When I joined Kahuhia Girls, many of my friends did not believe this. They laughed me off saying that music was not a serious career. After studying music and being in the industry for some time, I believe this is a career like any other.”

Because of her love for music, Linda chose music in addition to Education, which was her parents’ and friends’ wish. Linda is a Music and Performance graduate from Kenyatta University, currently pursuing her Masters in Music Education and Performance.

“Entertainment, specifically music is very fulfilling. I feel elated whenever I take to the stage to entertain my audience,” says the versatile musician who launched her second album, the 11 -track Imaji-nation, in March. Unlike Ne Muciare (He is born), her first album which comprises gospel songs, the latest album has both gospel and inspiring songs blended with love lyrics.

“The album is full of all of my dreams, some of I which have come true. In fact, a number of the hits are dedicated to my manager and long time mentor, Walter Mong’are,” Linda says.

“To create the unique sound of Imajination, my team at Altimate worked across continents with the support of able producers, family, friends, media and above all, God,” she says, and adds that the tracks in this album is a “collection of my personal emotions from joy, anxiety, courage, determination, pride, honour and hope.”

According to her, any loving man should stand by his woman in times of trials. “Walter has done exactly that and he has been my mentor since my college days and I cannot forget what he has done for my career. I would not be where I am today had I not met him. He has been an important pillar in my growth as a musician.” When she is not with Altimate Band which is one of the most expensive entertainment groups to hire, Linda is also a music tutor at Nairobi International School. She also performs in corporate and private functions including weddings but selectively.

“Compared to the entertainment value and package we offer, I believe our rates are fair and competitive. We are a professional outfit with singers and instrumentalists who keep the crowd entertained,” she says about her Altimate Band, which charges anything from Sh 100,000 as appearance and performance fees.

Apart from public performances, she is also part of a team that early in the year established the Kenya Musicians Association, KEMUSA, and she is the Assistant Secretary General.

“We wish to bring professionalism and sanity to this industry which for very long has been associated with indiscipline. The association’s aim is to ensure that the welfare of all musicians is taken into account,” she says of KEMUSA.

For the past one year, Linda has been busy performing with the Altimate Band in the Safaricom Kenya Live concerts across the country. Other than staging her performances, she is also the instructor, trainer and director of the other performing artistes who more often than are not backed up with a live band. The artistes on Safaricom Kenya Live include Nameless, Wahu, Redsan, Eko Dyda, Wyre, STL, Juliani, MOG, Juacali and other upcoming local and regional artistes.

Unlike many musicians, Linda is capable of singing and performing different genres of music including ohangra, and has shared the stage with some of the most respected musicians like Atif Aslam, Eric Wainaina and Jabali Afrika with whom she performed both in Kenya and in Washington DC while on tour with the Reddykyulass trio.

Linda advises the youth, especially girls, to follow their dreams. “Girls, especially those who are yet to join college and/or university should opt for courses they have passion for, with guidance from their parents.”

By Antony Ongalo

Photographs by Harry Olang

Styling by Namnyak Odupoy

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The rise and rise of Nyambane

Story and photographs by Antony Ongalo

People fail to understand that I have been in management for more than 15 years

He has established himself as a refined thespian, a radio station manager and a musician. By day, Walter Mong’are, who is also known as Nyambane, is in the office managing the affairs of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, where he is in charge of all radio stations. In the evening he changes hats and becomes an entertainer. He says entertainment is his hobby.

Walter can be described as one of the masters of comedy in the country because of his acts when he mimicked the retired President Moi, a role he played very well in the popular television comedy Reddykyulass. Walter says his alter ego Nyambane, who was a radio comedian on KISS! 100 and later at QFM, is totally different from Mr President who was in Reddykyulass and later Red Korna on the then Nation TV.

“You are now talking to Walter Mong’are, the Head of Radio at KBC. People have always confused these three people, yet they are completely different from one another,” insists Walter, whose appointment as KBC’s Head of Radio caught many by surprise and he was dismissed as a nonstarter as concerns management of the media.

“What people fail to understand is that I have been in management for more than 15 years. To make Reddykyulass, Altimate Music Band and Nyambane successful, it required management skills of the highest order. I am out to prove wrong those who doubted my managerial skills,” he says, adding that he answered to a job advert and he was interviewed by a panel comprising KBC board naembers and was eventually picked on merit.

“According to the latest Synovate Research media survey, Idhaa ya Taifa is the second most-listened to radio station behind Milele FM. I don’t want to brag, but those in the know agree it is as a result of the re-branding I did immediately I assumed this position.” Walter says he is now planning to launch a number of vernacular stations.

“KBC’s radio stations are the most professional stations because of the type of staff they have. But since KBC was a monopoly for so long, people grew tired and started having negative perceptions, but now, I am happy the attitude is changing and listenership has gone up,” he reveals.

Walter, who was hawking chapati and groundnuts at Lenana High School to supplement his pocket money, says his life has not been a bed of roses but he has struggled to be where he is today. “I don’t come from a rich family and my teenage years were challenging. While studying at Lenana High School, I had to look for ways of making an extra coin and this is when I ventured into the chapati business.The chapatis were made at a relative’s house and my role was to look for a quick market within the school.”

He recalls how because of strict student leaders and teachers, he conducted the business late in the evening and sold each chapati for a shilling more than the relative expected from him. “I did this upon realising that I was taking all the money back to my relative.”

He quit the business when he joined Fourth Form and wanted to be a student leader. “My enemies capitalised on the fact that I was involved in the ‘underworld’ business and I had to quit,” states Walter, who joined Kenyatta University in 1996.

It was at KU where he honed his skills as an actor when he joined hands with Kiarie John (KJ) and Tony Njuguna to come up with Reddykyulass, which exposed the talents of other comedians like Churchill, Kajairo, Eric Omondi, Mudomo Baggy and Linda Muthama.

“I don’t want to mention people’s names for the sake of giving myself or Reddykyulass credit, but I am sure we have contributed towards the growth of many people who were associated with us, either through acting or singing,”asserted Walter, who is a father of a 13-year old Tracy Mong’are and three year-old Walter Junior. “Junior is the ‘acting’ last born; another one is on the way.”

Rumour has it that your relationship with the musician Linda Muthama has taken a different turn?

“What do you mean by that? Linda is actually my wife. It is just that we are still in talks to legalise the marriage. I married my first wife in 1996 when I was still at Kenyatta University.”

Walter believes that he started entertaining even before he was born.” I am told by my mum that at the age of three, I would sit on the table and tell very entertaining stories. I believe I was born an entertainer.”

It is reported that Walter is ‘stubborn’ and difficult to hire because of his demands. “Is it a crime to demand my rights or to fully understand that, as an employee, am protected (by the Constitution)? It has taken me time to build my name and career, thus, it is my right to demand what I feel belongs to me,” he asserts. Although he is happy with the support he has received from local fans, he is yet to understand why Kenyans don’t fully support local artistes. “In Kenya, it’s easy to be a thief and survive than to be an entertainer because people want to be entertained but they don’t want to pay.”

  • paulson mugiira

    hi walter may u live 2 b the best entertainer ever

  • Jedidah

    I thought our constitution says one man one wife . How can u marry 2 women legally

    • Anonymous

      @Jedidah, Where is it written one man, one wife? Remind me the section. Give pple their freedom.

      • Oganzo

        @ Anonymous, if I’m not wrong, Walter has spoken about “legalizing the marriage” which essentially means that it will be “recognized by law”. For that to happen, a certificate is required, and that can never happen happen if there is another valid certificate with the AG. In other words, Jedidah is right, what the law essentially says is “Legally, one man, one woman”. A traditional marriage is something else, which though the law will not interfere with, it will always protect the wife whose marriage is certified. Look at what happens when a man dies and leave two wives…

        • Melaniemutuku

          if he marries her under Customary Law, which is uunwritten law but valid..then it is legal…

  • Hildah odira

    Walter you are such a hero,,,,I,m so sad that people want to be ” intertained” but do not want to pay, I suggest the CD,s should be high taxed, and hence be bought at Ksh200. that means there will be No CDs that cost Ksh20, and for this reason people will not buy intertainment for Ksh50.

  • angela

    I cant trust a man who cannot keep his commitment to his family…if his views on marriage are flexible, i wonder what other morals he feels free to bend… Im sorry walter i was huge fan, but after this Linda mess/fiasco, you lost your ground as a man… Your now among the fallen greats…and she will be your downfall…. i promise you…

    • Unnamed

      that aside,,i wonder what he’s gonna tell Linda when she discovers he has another mistress with whom we used to live with in same homestead in Kilee,,he used to spend many nights and evenings there…shame,shame,shame…….to me,he’s like a dog:unable to control his sexual appetite..ooh how i pity Linda that she could stoop so low….one day you will cry more than you ever knew anyone could!

  • Carol

    @Angela, i agree with u.

  • ati

    I wonder what Linda will have to say when Mong’are will leave for a third wife…be careful gals whoever makes another woman cry will sob forever…

    • donny

      Cry for what ? She ain’t taken nothing from her baby , let’s co- habitate people as our fore fathers did and never did they have any family isssues like divorces as to compaired to current days , Nyambane’ s first wife is comfortable and she has not complained to you , I hope you are talking for yourself

  • Don

    u r a realy kisii kip it up man

  • mindy

    u are lost walter lost it when u went to linda.ur heading to a place where u wil loose everything u worked for.

  • jane

    Walter u are a good entertainer the problem is marrying two wives….. what the hell are u advocating are you a role model? your morals are questionable not forgetting the pain u may have caused ur kids n wife!!!

  • http://google traecy

    oh god men are beasts, once they achieve what they have always wanted they forget those who have helped them to the achievement ladder,what a shame walter u can forget your wife????

    • donny

      That’s how exactly it is to women , don’t count yourself out friend , this this things are directly proportional to each other , not men or women , we are all the same and for your information this is when Nyambane has atained class one of acting 100% a man as to our fore fathers’s legacy left which seem to hv been forgotten by many resulting to many many family bind breaks because women hv felt themselves the only ones on sight hence forgetting that the ratio btwn women to men nowadays is inverse , perhaps 6:1 as research shows

  • Jedidah

    I wonder what the 1st rightful wyf has to say about this but i know she is hurting. If this walter was married to a wyf with another husband what would he feel i mean the feeling is jus as bad as it is to his wyf right now. Once married God intends its only death that shd do you part n u can gues who is the death of the 1st rightful marriage. Linda dont think u’l b happy 4 long 4 what u sowed u r reaping sooner than you think. God wil not let you go unpunished linda

  • Anonymous

    Carol thats dawn right

  • Ann

    The 1st wife must be very hurt.

    • Adah

      I was your no.1 fun Walter,but you lost it man.I don`t want to see you even on TV.

      • Annamwale

        Yeah you have no respect for women.Linda shouldnt think that shes lucky.

  • Jay

    In this day and age…who makes mpango wa kando official? I thinks its totally unwise…..we’ve liberated ourselves from age old practices like FGM, wife inheritance, polygamy etc then someone has a justification for this?…Yes its their life…but hey..

  • judy

    love is the most important thing.. Am sure there is a reason to why you chose linda as in she not the first gal uve met! All the best

  • kamau

    Kudos Walter and the beutiful Linda for making public your relationship.Africans under our customs can marry as many wives as possible. Lets not ape the west blindly. l have two wives and am very happy.

    • Anonymous

      Kamau,is ur 1st wife happy? Stop bng selfish.

  • ogongo

    u got it wrong man.Linda why second wife?

  • Anonymous

    2nd wife!my foot!wanaume……

  • katy

    I think people should not judge, you dont know why they are together,life is short if linda makes him happy so be it.and y are you picking on only that one bit of linda as being his wife there are other positive things nyambane has done worth talking about.

  • kenya travel

    Enjoy yourself men

  • ace

    Boy what do u think you first wife feels? I mean wen you were bending on her you had all the fun does she deserve this? By the way Walter KBC is not listened to bro i work with the community and so be notified Citizen vernacular radio is the leading radio station so dont prank us.

    • mush

      who cares,if you dont listen to nyabs he does not care,coz at tha end month he still gets paid

  • ori

    kudos nyambs, whatever they say- i have 4! as long as everybody is happy, thats what matters

  • Vin

    Who can resist linda, that is a tough ask by you moralists. Its unfair to judge walter, just look at linda who can resist her? The wife one can always get a divorce if she is unhappy.

  • friki

    from the article of Linda, she has stated her mum sings in church choir. That means her mom must have brought her up through the church so she must have heard about fornication and adultery! same case to walter who was once interviewed with the wife and kid some years back. they were even pictured in baptist church ngong road, so he too knows what adultery is! having stated that, which morality do they have to be together?? shame on them. i hope they come to their senses, for to linda let no man put asunder what God has joined together!

  • cate

    i want to be his 3rd wife

    • donny

      Thankyou baby , go go , you talking now , let’s restore family cohabitation values and stop this white man’ s life that one man , one wife which is not working to either them , divorces every single day , they have put laws to protect women from men and they have completely messed up with family life , too much freedom to women has spoiled family values , they don’t protect marriages any more , we have abandoned our traditions and we have welcomed white man ‘ s traditions which has cost has families….we need to come back to our senses as well as to our traditions , that way we will go much far than what we have bn poisoned with as black people , we will always be a head of the game

  • Paddy

    Wot is morality? If it has meaning 2 u it must include forthrightness. Denial n holier than thou attitude with many castigators of Nyams amounts 2 immorality. Pple shd mind their own business. Nyams n his 2 wives kno wot they r doing. They haven’t complained 2 anyone. All that is a private affair. If there r issues they shd relate 2 public broadcaster- KBC. Period.

  • Alex Musyoka35

    nyambane can u pliz tell us about your academic progress especially that of kenyatta university and also the year you completed your studies.   posted by alex

  • Davismunene67

    just in admiration moods

  • http://none kamau

    This is a true democracy in Kenya. Get rich and win the best looking women. Therefore, the mentioned above guy just having married a second girl is barely a drop in the ocean. I have a living witness that “had her pastor husband walk across the isle” with a rigid marriage license from the same “damn” Attorney Generals office who had issued him a genuine one a couple of years ago. And yet???? Shame on the Bishop from hell, he is not divorced from his first wife who i clearly know they had kids together. Therefore you fellows in Kenya, worry not about the morals and the consequences of marrying multiple wives, but rather keep worshiping the “thickness” of your damn pockets. That sucks!!!!!!!!!!Anyhow i guess this is an “ETHICAL DILEMMA” torn between the Christianity and our traditional believes. Some people just seem to be holistically confused! get your selves right.

  • nevermind

    am a first wife and i dont think i mind, we are two and like sisters, i prefer polygamy marrige than our husband moving around like a hungry fool having sex with anyone………….women think big…..

  • flamejames

    Fat linda

  • anne marie deya

    Linda Muthama, I dont envy you. I honestly sympathise with you. An educated woman who holds a bachelors degree, proudly announcing that she is a second wife???, of nyambane, Pole sana. Hauna bahati, not that anything is wrong with him. he is taken. what is wrong with kenyan women???

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