Veteran Embu musician Newton Karish is an interesting man. Lanky, and built like a boxer, Karish easily comes off as a regular villager. Except, he's bubbly, fun and clearly not destined to be a lowly, peasant farmer. Newton Karish was born to tell stories.
Way down an illustrious career in music, Karish successfully ventured into politics. He's currently a sitting MCA for Muminji Ward in Embu County. It's not an easy pursuit, juggling music and politics.
However, it's not the singer's constituents that keep him awake at night.A file image of Veteran Embu Musician and MCA Muminji Ward Newton KarishThe Standard
Karish is haunted by the memory of an encounter with robbers a few years back. It was a New Year's Eve, late 90's - in an Ongata Rongai club. It startles him awake, in the wee hours of the morning. But, he still likes to give account of what went down. And, It's hilarious!
Infact, the encounter inspired one of his mega hits: Ngoma Bila Nguo. His other tracks include Safari Ya Meru, Karimi wa Mitunguu and Muthoni Kifagio.
On the day, Newton Karish had a sold-out concert, in Ongata Rongai. At the time, the township was an important hub on the region's entertainment scene. The club was packed to the rafters.
Unlike present-day artists, Karish wouldn't show up to lip-sync to a few tracks. He'd arrive with a flourish as befitted his status, complete with a live band, and dancers. They'd perform from 10pm to around 4am.Politician Newton Karish during his swearing in as MCA (file images)
On the fateful New Year's Eve, Karish is plying his trade upstage.
His dancers are losing their minds - it's what they live to do - dance! The crowd is delirious, after all - it's a new year! A few strokes past 2am, the booming speakers suddenly go mute. Pap! That's not a good thing. Everything stops.
A voice booms out: KILA MTU LALA CHINI!
It's a gang - perhaps, six or seven guys - brandishing all manner of weapons. Machetes, clubs, and swords. Two members had rusty AK-47s slung across their chests. They were leading this operation. The club's patronage, with varying degrees of intoxication suddenly go sober. They are herded to one side of the club.
The gang leader issues an order: EVERYONE, GET NAKED!
Karish and his band are still up on the stage. Lead by example, he tells himself. He strips down to his birthday suit. Everyone follows suit. Everyone gets naked, and all clothes are thrown to an empty spot near the entrance. It's also the only exit. Explains a good choice for an easy siege.
Turns out, that the leader of the gang didn't only have balls of steel - but, also a funny bone. He orders someone to re-connect the speakers. He walks on stage. Karish and his band are sprawled, naked. He orders them up, and do their thing. Yes! Start singing!
The guy tells Karish of his favorite pick from a rota of his greatest hits.
Newton Karish has to perform 'Muthoni Kifagio'.
The track 'Muthoni Kifagio' is sort of a trademark. It made Newton Karish. He narrates of a former lover who's broken his trust, albeit outdoing himself to make sure she's happy, and well-provided for.
It's a satirical piece that ridicules and mocks loose morals.
Meanwhile, the the gang is going through pockets. The crowd is cowering on the dirty floor, in fear and in cold. Ongata Rongai is awfully cold at night. Outside, the gang had posted look outs, masquerading as club security men.
To add a pickle to the pie, the gang leader picks a dancer from the crowd. He settles on a short man, with a protruding pot belly. He's rocking a cow boy hat. It was a comical sight - a pot-bellied man dancing in a cow boy hat!
The heist lasts a few minutes. The gang disappears. The patrons, still naked, realizes it. There's a mad scramble for clothes. It's like the colonial scramble for the Dark continent in the early 40's!
Karish and his band are furthest from the heap - they get to pick last. He lands a short spaghetti top - a popular lady garment in those days. The pot-bellied dancer manages a 'biker' shorts. These are very feminine. They are popular with upcountry womenfolk.
No offense, but, have you seen upcountry folk on their first-time visit to the beaches at the coast? It's a popular swimming costume!
To make it worse, Karish's spaghetti top reeks of perfume. He confesses to having a hard time at home trying to convince his wife of his woes at the hands of a gang.
To date, he worries about the pot-bellied dancer, in a cow boy hat.
How did this man explain to his wife why he's wearing a lady's biker shorts?A file image of Veteran Embu Musician Newton KarishThe Emberianweapon
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