'Tano Tena' Hitmaker Ben Githae: Where Is He Now?

  • A screengrab taken from the music video for 'Tano Tena' by Ben Githae released in 2017
    A screengrab taken from the music video for 'Tano Tena' by Ben Githae released in 2017
    YouTube
  • As the electioneering period intensified during the 2017 General Elections, Ben Githae's voice became a constant feature as the soundtrack of the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led Jubilee Party campaigns.

    Other than playing at rallies, his songs Tano Tena and Wembe ni Ule Ule proved hits with supporters of Uhuru and his running mate, Deputy President William Ruto. It could be heard blaring from boda bodas, shops and homes in various parts of the country.

    Kenyans.co.ke caught up with Githae on Wednesday, March 3 for a conversation that shed light on what the famous gospel artist has been up to since the polls closed.

    Gospel artist Ben Githae pictured with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi in 2017
    Gospel artist Ben Githae pictured with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi in 2017

    "I can't go a week without trending. Every day people are on my Facebook page asking me funny things. They asked me whether I would release a song about the BBI (Building Bridges Initiative) and the other day, someone said I was releasing a song about Coronavirus featuring Jimmy Gait," he told this scribe, laughing.

    Explaining how he first came up with Tano Tena, Githae revealed that he had always admired Uhuru and released the song on his own volition.

    He maintained that he was not approached by any political players to record the track, disclosing that various partnerships were sealed long after the song had become a hit.

    "Let me tell you something, I just love Uhuru. I love him. I recorded the song and put it on my album as the third track.

    "One day after we released it, it was trending at number one. It even displaced a Sauti Sol song from the trending videos chart.I did the song because I felt a deep conviction. All the partnerships and deals that came, they came after the song was a hit and people were listening to it," he stated.

    After the election, Githae went back to the studio and focused on recording gospel singles in his native Kikuyu language.

    He amassed several hits with many of the songs on rotation on vernacular television and radio stations.

    "You know, those people trolling me, they think Tano Tena was my first song. I had so many Kikuyu gospel hits that were loved back then and that is what I have been doing.

    "The songs have been doing well on stations like Kameme and Inooro. They are being set as ringback tunes on people's phones. I think, maybe my fans from other parts of the country have been waiting for a single in Kiswahili and they should know it's coming soon," he stated.

    Githae noted that those who thought he was missing in action may have been used to hearing his music on mainstream stations.

    He observed that, unlike in the early 2000's, music in Kikuyu or other vernacular languages was not played on urban, mainstream media platforms but had been relegated to the vernacular broadcasters.

    "Those who think I am missing it's because maybe the music is not played on the urban stations so they can't know," he stated.

    Githae further stated that he remained open to recording a political tune again in the future, but only if he felt a conviction in his heart.

    "I haven't done another political song because I haven't really felt a conviction to record one. But I could still record one. If I wanted to record a political song, nothing would stop me from doing so," he asserted.

    Githae also brushed off criticism of his support for Uhuru, noting that his long-time fans were not complaining.

    To affirm this, he disclosed that he was regularly invited to perform at events hosted by leaders perceived to be against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Raila Odinga's handshake which birthed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). 

    "Everywhere I go, they still ask specifically for Ben Githae. They didn't stop. In fact, today I was at an event led by Ndindi Nyoro in Kiharu where youths were being sponsored to go to driving school," he revealed.

    Gospel artist Ben Githae pictured during an interview at Radio Jambo in February 2019
    Gospel artist Ben Githae pictured during an interview at Radio Jambo in February 2019
    YouTube