Firirida: Kikuyu Musician's Song Goes Viral 36 years After it Was Recorded

  • Dick Njoroge speaks with President Uhuru Kenyatta outside the Gatundu level four hospital when the president toured the region.
    Dick Munyonyi speaking with President Uhuru Kenyatta outside the Gatundu level four hospital when the president toured the region in 2016.
    The Standard
    Fidelis Kabunji
  • A celebratory song by the title Firirida has gone viral on social media over the past week, accumulating over a hundred thousand views on Youtube and multiple dance challenges on tiktok.

    The rise of the song is an inspiring story of human success at the most unexpected times, perhaps a microcosm of the famous account of Colonel Sanders who founded the KFC empire while in his sunset years. 

    The song was recorded by Kikuyu vernacular musician Dick Munyonyi in 1986 who was a relatively successful musician at the time.  

    Uhuru Kenyatta and Margaret Kenyatta during their wedding at the Holy Family Basilica in 1989
    Uhuru Kenyatta and Margaret Kenyatta during their wedding at the Holy Family Basilica in 1989.

    Munyonyi, a renowned musician who sung at President Uhuru Kenyatta's wedding, lost his voice just a few years after the release of the song in 1986 when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

    He would post the song on YouTube in 2012, many years after he had lost his livelihood as a singer, but there was little success as it garnered a paltry one thousand page views over a period of eight years. 

    Last week, popular journalist Jeff Kuria shared the video on social media and it immediately went viral, dominating tiktok videos, whatsapp status, and a viral dance challenge which has become the latest trend in weddings and dowry ceremonies. The celebratory song has since garnered 168,257.

    In the song, the singer says that those who take alcohol should continue doing so while those who do not can be served with sugarless tea. He, however, warned the youth against taking it excessively.

    The musician, during a past interview in a You Tube show, asked his fans to pray for him that he would one day regain his voice and continue singing even in his old age. 

    In the meantime, he asked his fans to support him by listening to his songs which have also gained a boost from the Firirida craze. Wellwishers have also been offering various goodies to Munyonyi's family. 

    "Currently, I take medicine amounting to Ksh3,000 a month while my wife also uses Ksh2,000 on medicine because she is diabetic. I wouldn't want to appeal for any help because I would feel like I am embarrassing the president," he stated.

    Munyonyi's music career began in 1971, releasing a number of hit records with the most recognizable one being "Onga Munyonyi".

    He disclosed that he lost his voice after a bus trip to Nairobi from the Mwembe tayari, Mombasa where he had been invited to perform in clubs at the coast.

    "As time went by, my voice began to change. It became hoarse and finally I could not sing. I now perform with my son who sings as I play the guitar. We have recorded an album and one song is dedicated to the President."

    One of the most memorable moments for the musician is a visit to Kiambu County in 2016 where the president picked him out in a crowd outside Gatundu level four hospital and greeted him.

    "This was like a dream. I am yet to come to terms with reality. It is a miracle that the President noticed me in the crowd."

    alcohol