If you believe in miracles, then Wahu winning the Best Female Award at the recent MTV Africa (MAMA) Awards rates up there…close to walking on water, from where am sitting. Quite honestly, I sincerely didn't think she had a chance against Naija songstress Asa. And from her reaction after being announced the winner of the award; so did she.
If you’re an avid watcher of Pan African music shows, a la MTV Base and Channel O, you’ll have noticed that Asa has cut a niche for herself as someone akin to our continent’s very own Erykah Badu. Based in Paris, Asa has opened for superstar acts like John Legend, Snoop Dogg and Akon. Her hit song, ‘Mr. Jailer’ has been a cross border sensation, causing ripples from Abuja to Cape Town.
These are the facts that might’ve been going through Wahu’s head the moment she got the MAMA nomination and realized she was up against Asa. Pardon Wahu’s reaction, but by scooping the Best Female Artist award, she knew she’d done an Obama over Asa. Kenyan’s truly run this planet!
In my most humble opinion, for Wahu, winning the MAMA was the easy part – living up to the expectations that come with winning such an award will be the monumental task. Of all the nominees, she was the only one without an album to her credit! A look at the CV’s of the female nominees tells you that all those nominated have taken their music to an international level far higher than Wahu’s. In fact, a lot of female African artists, especially from Nigeria and South Africa, who were not even nominated, have been hard on the grind making waves internationally.
So what does our superstar Wahu do to ensure that she becomes Kenya’s first truly female star with continental appeal?
Well, for one, her song “Sweet Love” kicked a**! It was a truly African song that caught continents attention. We at home could tell that it was Wahu singing and Nameless behind the lyrics, but the rest of the continent couldn't - they just loved the song!
So Ms. Mathenge, the thing you should do; keep Nameless as your ghost writer. Monski has got this Afropop, Highlife, Osibissa-type thing going on with his lyrics and he’ll make a pretty good ally for you when it comes to taking your music to the next level.
You caught the continents attention on a reggae tip – you did it in grand style; don’t forsake the conscious rhythms. Keep your music reggae. You can explore with Afropop beats – but keep your music predominantly reggae. Africa needs another Lucky Dube and your mission should be to fit into his shoes! No small feat, but I believe you can do it. More so, because Kenya doesn't really have a definitive beat that's recognised around the continent the way Nigeria have their Afrobeat, South Africa with their Kwaito, DRC with their Lingala...
Collaborate with artists from West and South Africa (especially Nigeria and South Africa). These are the countries that define Afropop on this continent. A duo with DBanj or HHP (Hip Hop Pantsula) wouldn’t hurt.
Consolidate your dominance of East & Central Africa. The project you did with Bobbi Wine was great, but it wasn’t you in control – it was Shell and MTV. You need to continue working with the regions heavy-hitters; in your own terms.
And finally, don’t forget to look for JB or Werra Son from the DRC, they will break you into the Francophone market, eventually into France and ultimately Europe. The French appreciate good music and that’s the country most Africans use to break through into greater Europe.
Congratulations on your big win and keep up the momentum Wahu.