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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 15 September 2014


A youthful and upcoming musician from Bungoma county Stephen Masinde who has lately carved himself an enviable  niche  as  a reputable social commentator among  musicians and other artists in Western Kenya  is innovatively composing songs on the region’s social-economic issues in a unique but subtle manner only found in the circles of renowned fiction writers.
Steve Key as he is commonly known  in Bungoma, is literally singing his way into the hearts and minds of  elated fans and admirers  most of who seem to be in tandem with his  social commentary style and manner  in which he is resonating with the general public’s view on the prevailing decadence  and rot in the society.
In one of his latest hits, aptly titled as  “ Wambumuli, Steve Key sings  about a small white tailed monkey which is known for being highly amorous as it is demonstrated by it swift sexual mobility among female monkeys  and more often than  not  does not seem to select or differentiate its close  relatives like the mother and or sisters whenever it has sexual appetite.
The hit song Wambumuli  is literally on every one’s lips in the region as it is played in bars, restaurants eating joints, private cars, public transport and repeatedly aired by most   of the local FM Radio stations which broadcast from the region or beam their broadcasts here like Royal Media’s Sulwe FM  which broadcasts in Kibukusu – a Luhya dialect.  In Wambumuli, Steve Key basing  his  song on the small white tailed amorous monkey  warns  of Wambumuli  having  taken his  two wives,  in addition of being involved in numerous illicit affairs with school girls and  causing  them to  drop out of school due to pregnancies.
He also decries of Wambumuli’s  immoral   misconduct which he says is contributing  to the spread of the dreaded AIDS  pandemic,   particularly among the youthful population which  he claims the Wambumuli like  leaders  or people in positions of high standing in the community, are  getting involved in. As a matter of fact, when the song was first  released, there are those who were apprehensive that he may have been  targeting   a particular or known group of leaders who  had been reported in the  media of immorality but listening to  the lyrics with a critical mind clearly gives it a clean bill of health as a general social comment  that does not aim at any particular individual  or persons.
Moreover, in his second hit single  titled  Babandu  be  Chisuti, now  on video, referring to those  executives who   put on  business suits   in the various  key positions of authority  in the region, Steve Key  warns that  those  suited  executives  bear the  biggest  responsibility for the dwindling economic  fortunes  in Bungoma county and    the region at large.  And as if to confirm his  tact  and skill of his social commentary   prowess, Steve Key emotionally  narrates the winding  story and  the  gradual  decline of  the  public  investment in the county and region in general whereby most of them have  collapsed  at the hands of Babandu be Chisuti  as   the of citizens majority of whom are youth  continue to  wallow in abject poverty due to joblessness  and  misery.
In this song, Steve Key  mentions    the collapsed Cotton Ginnery  Complex in Malakisi,   the  ever  struggling  Kitinda Dairy in Bungoma, the collapsed Webuye Paper Factory and  economically  unstable and troubled  Nzoia  and Mumias sugar factories  whose  collapse he laments  will  make the lives of  a majority of people in the  region even more desperate and miserable. The struggling coffee sector and poor returns in general agriculture are also subjects of his comments in the song.
The song has more than anything else positioned Steve Key as a prolific social - economic commentator of the current situation in the region. He further decries   about the state of joblessness among the  youth as a result of the decline of  industries  and  graphically  compares the executives in suits with hyenas and vultures  which devour   everything in their way.
Stephen Wekesa Masinde was born on August 23 1991 in a family of two girls and two brothers at  Muanda village of Bumula sub-county in Bungoma county. His parents passed on while he was still young and only in Standard Five at Biliso Primary School. He  had to be taken up by his maternal  relatives who  enrolled him at Kongoli  Primary School  - Nandolia from where he joined  Form One at Samoya  Secondary School but dropped  out in Form Two as he could not  proceed  due  to lack of school fees.
He was later given a reprieve  and admitted to Form Three by the principal of Muanda Secondary School  who noticed and was attracted  to  young  Steve Key’s voice  at church choirs and  during  circumcision  ceremonies. However, as fate would have it, at the end of Form Three, the deputy principal who as in charge  of  student administration prevailed upon the school board to send  him away for non-payment of  school fees and this was the end of his formal school education .
Says Steve – Key in an interview with Weekly Citizen: “I was  extremely dejected  and felt let down and had to resort to search of menial labour jobs at building sites  till 2011 when I tried  singing rap music at public events and went to church on Sundays  to sing gospel music.”
In 2012 as the nation geared itself for the 2013 general elections, Steve Key says he joined the political campaign trail of his favourite politicians and released his first political single for one Mark Barasa who contested the Kabuchai parliamentary seat on a UDF ticket.           He also played a special campaign tune for Wabwoba Mukhamule Walinywa who contested Bungoma gubernatorial seat on a UDF ticket.
During  last December’s Bungoma senatorial by-election between Moses Wetang’ula and Musikari Kombo, Steve Key released a highly popular single titled “Wetang’ula wefwe  kola” which for some time  rent  the air at music  distribution  spots in  Bungoma, Kitale, Webuye, Kimilili, Chwele and   other market centers in the entire county.
Steve Key has also released Mwikulu, where  his imagination is  at its  best  as   he sings about  what  would  be  happening  to likes of Masinde Muliro, Wamalwa Kijana, Pascal Nabwana,  his own parents  in heaven or wherever they  are  after death.  In most of his songs, he connects well with the rest of the society and particularly leaders in key sectors. From the look of things, his star seems to be on the rise and more will definitely be heard from him.