The Nation (Nairobi)

20 August 2011

Kenya: Jaguar, Rapper Philanthropist

interview

Charles Njagua Kanyi has the biggest song of 2011 yet with 'Kigeugeu', and it has been a long way to the top. Arguably the flashiest Kenyan artiste, Jaguar is a self made musician cum businessman who has tasted both sides of life and has had his share of controversies. He sets the record straight with Buzz.

The Internet has been ablaze with critics dismissing claims that you donated food and did a 20km walk in Turkana two weeks ago.

I have been following that too and I'm shocked at how people can mix their own issues with the real truth.

So what is the truth?

I was in Lodwar on Friday, August 5, landed at 10 in the morning and left the following morning after a very successful charity show.

Explain what you mean by charity show?

The show had been advertised and fans were being charged at the gate. My arrangement with the club owner was that all proceeds would go towards buying food for the needy Kenyans and that would be my contribution. So I was not paid to perform.

There is a video and pictures of you giving out food. When did that happen?

Right after I landed in Lodwar. I was not going to spend another day there since on Saturday I had a show in Kisumu. So I decided to buy the food immediately, which I distributed in Nakwamekwi village together with the local councillor, Christopher Apua.

So you didn't use any agency to distribute this food?

I didn't need to use an agency for that. I'm a Kenyan, I have access to all parts of Kenya. I can help a brother or a sister at any time they need anything that I can help with without going through any agency. That's what I did that Friday, after watching on TV hungry Kenyans at the risk of death because of drought.

How about the 20km walk that people say you didn't do?

I did not go to Lodwar for a harambee. I walked for about 20km from Lodwar town to the village, mainly because I wanted to see for myself how harsh the situation on the ground was.

How about the cost of the Lodwar trip?

I paid for my own flight and accommodation, as well as buying the food too. The club owner and other people also contributed in the kitty. In fact, I used my cash even before the show.

Away from the Lodwar trip, you have been in the news doing a lot of charity work, and now you have been branded a 'philanthropic' musician.

I believe in giving back to the society. Everything I make, I always remember those who don't have anything. Life has taught me the hard way.

How hard?

I lost my mum when I was 12. At that time, my parents had separated. I started fending for my self and later my siblings too.

Is your dad still alive?

Yes he is. I have nothing against him. I was not involved with their separation with my mother. Somehow I think if they had not separated, I wouldn't have learnt how to help people the way I do.

And do you support your father?

Very much. He is an old man now and I still look at him as my father, who brought me into this world.

Your money is not from music alone, is that right?

Yes, I have lots of businesses too. My past suffering has taught me how to strive to make an extra coin, save when you can and also give back to the same society that helped me get where I am now.

What other businesses do you do?

I have an auto garage, a fleet of cabs and a security guards company.

Between business and music, where are you making more money?

Business of course. I spend five days in my businesses every week, and perform over the weekends.

Are you signed at Ogopa DJs or are you just doing projects there?

I'm already signed, so more music is coming out soon from the stable.

How does it feel to have the biggest song in the country right now?

It's a blessing. God knows I have struggled for so long and I'm happy that I was able to make music that appeals to all people, young and old.

How did you feel when Prime Minister Raila Odinga said 'Kigeugeu' is his favourite song?

I was humbled. I hope I'm going to do well in other songs that I'm going to do.

What has changed since the days you were struggling to do music and now?

I have grown a lot and I now know what people want to listen to. I even know how to deal with promoters and fans too.

Are you still free from drugs and alcohol too?

Very much. I was addicted to both and the most encouraging thing is that I have been able to help a lot of people around me recover from alcoholism and drug abuse, including close members of my family.

jmuchiri@ke.nationmedia.com

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