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How Freshly Mwamburi’s viral ‘Stella Wangu’ hit continues to capture Kenyan hearts

Veteran singer Freshly Mwamburi says he has made good money from his classic heartbreak song Stella Wangu, which has become a trend in the country every year.

Last week Friday, May 17, Stella Wangu, which was first released in 1992, topped the social media trending charts and attracted a significant number of streams from YouTube and Spotify.

In recent years, Kenyans have been celebrating the timeless classic, recorded by the Everest Kings band with Freshly Mwamburi as the lead singer, every May 17.

Last Friday, social media was awash with several AI-generated images depicting the events as narrated by Freshly in the song.

The song has taken on a life of its own, a craze that has Kenyans on social media creating memes as they question the return of Stella, the character that drives the theme of the song.

“I want to thank God for this timeless classic. If you had told me in 1992 that the song would still be a hit today, I would have scoffed at you. It’s nice to see how popular the song has become and still is, to be able to celebrate a song as old as Stella every year is not something I take for granted. The song has been and continues to be a blessing, I have made a lot of money from it and these celebrations make me happy. They serve as a reminder of the circumstances that led me to write the song,” says Freshly Mwamburi.

In the song, Mwamburi narrates how he sacrificed all his wealth to sponsor Stella to continue her studies in Japan with the promise that she would marry him when she returned home.

On May 17, 1992, a proud Mwamburi mobilised his friends and family to accompany him to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to welcome Stella home. But to his surprise and dismay, Stella stepped off the plane with a baby in her arms and a Japanese husband.

Over the years, Mwamburi has always insisted that Stella is a real person, but according to former band members, Stella was only a fictional character.

“It is good for Kenyans to know that the Stella in the song was just a fictional character and they should stop expecting her comeback every 17th of May. Stella never existed,” the singer’s bandleader Abdul Muyonga revealed in an earlier interview, claiming that Everest Kings had a habit of using women’s names that were popular at the time in their songs to dramatise a social issue that the public could easily relate to.

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