|They have long been thought of as
Congolese, because of their accents, and Tanzanians, because of their perfect Kiswahili.
This week, Kisima winners Deux Vultures tell us what country they come from, as well as
who they are and what inspires them.
Deux Vultures stepped up on stage to receive their award for the Group of the Year
(TZ/UG), the only thing most of the audience asked was, "What happened to TID?"
However, the question we all should have been asking is, "Since when did they become
As it turns out, the youthful duo of Thomas Gonzanga (21)
and Moustapha Daudi (22), long rumoured to be flashy Congolese musicians, are Kenyans.
"This story about us not being Kenyan," they say, laughing, "is actually a
rumour that was started by Smitta Smitten. No one is Congolese among us."
And how did they end up in a category they didnt
belong in the first place?
"We dont understand it either," they say
in their characteristic fluid Swahili. "We dont blame anyone for that error,
but no one has ever asked us where we are from. In fact, we are glad that you have asked
us, and now we have a chance to tell Kenyans that we are one of them."
Perhaps the reason for the misconception is the fact that
both Moustapha and Thomas were born in Tanzania, and moved to Kenya right after they
finished primary school. They have since attained citizenship, but their Tanzanian roots
are still very much in evidence. All you have to do is listen closely to such hits as
Katika and Monalisa and you can hear the Dar inflections in their
Growing up in the coastal town of Dar-es-Salaam, the
earliest memory the two have of each other is hitting it off even before they knew each
others names. "We were next-door neighbours, and in Class Two at the
time," says Moustapha.
A fruitful friendship based on their love of music grew.
"We often took part in various dancing competitions within the neighbourhood, during
parties or weddings. We were very good at breakdancing. It was the breakdance jig that
later inspired music in us," says Moustapha.
In 1995, they moved to Kenya to pursue their education.
"We admired the Kenyan system of education that is considered one of the best in
Africa," Moustapha says. They joined Muguga High School in Kikuyu, and even though
they had left their parents behind in Dar, they still had each other.
"It was difficult at the time," they say. They
did not speak Sheng or English, like their peers, and they hated Kenyan boarding school
food. But they survived and adjusted, perhaps because they had their music to help them
"We used to perform in high school, during variety
shows and school concerts," says Moustapha. "We would constantly keep the crowd
on their feet during our high energized performances," recalls Thomas, rather
immodestly. Although they had no instruments or microphones, they would often do rap
sessions for the school, and enjoy themselves immensely. It was during this time that the
idea of forming a rap group was born.
"It was at one point in school when we had a major
show and the two of us were asked to sing using a microphone and instrumental beats,"
says Thomas. "It was at this point that most of the students urged us to join in the
Many successful Kenyan hip-hop groups have passed the
litmus test that is the jam session. It is here that many of them hone their skills as
performance artistes take K-South, who started off at Florida 2000. Or Kalamashaka.
Even Gidigidi Majimaji had their first taste of adulation at this venue. It was no
different for Deux Vultures, who used to hepa school to go to the Sunday afternoon F2 jam
"We noticed that we could pull crowds with our
unique Kiswahili rap, so we went for the skies. Club performances were the natural
starting point," says Thomas.
The biggest damper on their plan to stay here and develop
their music career was the fact that they would have to move back to Tanzania after
completing their education, a move that would not have been favourable because Tanzania
had not yet developed enough of an entertainment industry to support them. In Kenya,
things were starting to heat up, with the emergence of such luminaries as Hardstone,
Kalamashaka and that forerunner of all music studios, Sync Sound. Things would definitely
be easier for them if they stayed.
That decision was taken out of their hands when both sets
of parents hopped across to join their sons here, and opened up businesses. The Deux
Vultures Kenyanisation was complete.
Once they finished high school, the two budding rappers
proceeded to the American University Preparation Institute in Westlands, Nairobi, hoping
to gain entry into an American university via this route. They soon shelved that plan and
decided to concentrate on performing at various functions for a while.
They joined a group of 18 other rappers, and gave
themselves the name Desert Vultures. But 20 people proved too many for one
group. "We used to free-style and moonlight at various clubs," says Moustapha,
"but we were so many that any money we made, split 20 ways, became peanuts."
Also, 20 divergent opinions on any one issue was too much
for them to handle. Moustapha and Thomas soon deserted the Desert Vultures and, a deux,
gave themselves the appropriate moniker, Deux Vultures.
Going solo, so to speak, in 2002, Thomas and Moustapha
did a little bit of this and a little bit of that
and eventually bumped into Lucas
Bikedo, Ogopa DJs premier producer. "A DJ friend with whom I had performed
introduced us to Lucas," says Moustapha. "We gave Lucas a tape with a track we
had made for our shows, and he listened to it, changed it, and gave it a name
Monalisas runaway success was all the
indication they needed that this the entertainment business - was where they needed
"Monalisa kept us on our feet for almost
two years, we had shows on weekends and weekdays. I bet this was due to its
popularity," says Moustapha.
After Monalisa, there wasnt enough time
to record another track, what with all the shows they had. So while the rest of us thought
they had succumbed to One Hit Wonder disease, they were spreading their
popularity all over the region.
There was a spot of controversy in their lives later that
year when they left Ogopa DJs. This, they say, had nothing to do with them. "We
didnt leave Ogopa because we had a problem with them. We just wanted some variety in
the way that our music sounded."
However, a number of artistes were deserting the Ogopa
camp at the time, some of them citing animosity between them and the producers.
"Its unfortunate that at the time we
left," says Moustapha, "a lot was going on in the Ogopa camp. We had no problems
with them. In fact they paid us all our money and our working relationship was
cordial," he adds.
"As you know, different producers have different
talents and our aim has always been to exploit these diverse talents," says Thomas.
"We are still good friends and keep in touch," he continues. Their current
album, Katika, features different producers, including Mike Mwamba of FM
studios, RK and Next Level studios; even the Ogopa DJs have worked on it. The duo also
says that an up-coming video, for a song titled Go Back To School, will be
edited by Lucas.
Currently, Deux Vultures are focusing on promoting their
new album. Some of this involves such stunts as featuring promoter Big Ted on their
Go Back to School Track.
Does this have anything to do with the fact that Big Ted
is now back in school, I wonder?
"No, no," they laugh. "Big Ted has been
like a brother to us," says Moustapha. "It is thanks to Big Ted and Lucas
(Bikedo) that we have come so far." And so the choice to include him in a song came
naturally. The song focuses on a young lady who completely refuses to go to school despite
all the efforts her parents make to educate her. She often skives school, and in the
process, conceives and has an abortion. The song also revolves around HIV/Aids and how
people should be aware of the dreaded disease and lead a moral life. They are currently
shooting the video.
Thomas and Moustapha are Majimajis neighbours in
Doonholm, where they lead a comfortable life. Although they will not give us figures, they
say they have made enough money to support themselves. They run a Simu ya Jamii booth in
the estate, and own a clothing label named after themselves. These they sell in their
They may not live together, but they certainly travel a
lot together, and so they own a black Nissan. They are also looking forward to playing the
real estate market soon.
Both are happily engaged to be married Thomas to
an airline stewardess called Josephine Gitau, and Moustapha to a KCB sales rep called Lena
Both have met the parents, and admit that it was
difficult, because of the negative perception most people have of musicians.
"But we are now glad that they have since accepted
us and we are going to be part of those families," says Moustapha. "We intend to
raise our families here," says Thomas. Which brings us back to that little problem of
them winning an award in a category they should not have been part of.
Although Deux Vultures are popular in Kenya, they say
they are much more popular in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Even more popular,
they say, than TID. They also concede that the Kisima awards were fair (regardless of the
fact that they won), and that they deserved the win because they have struggled to get
where they are today.
"We felt honoured because its not everyday
that one gets such an opportunity to be rewarded. We are grateful to God, our parents and
all our fans in that order," says Thomas, with a look of pride in his eyes.
The Deux Vultures have a dream - to put Kenya on the
world music map. Reason: "Our album is different from what other Kenyan artistes have
done." This is all well and good, but the question is, now that the truth about their
nationality has been established, will they have to return their little Kisima statuette?