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Meet Kenya’s most educated musicians

If you thought music was only for the underachievers, then think again. Some of the top Kenyan musicians chose education first before venturing into music.

Here are some of the most educated Kenyan musicians with university degrees that could have landed them prestigious white-collar jobs:

1. Nameless – David Mathenge, better known as Nameless, burst into limelight in 1999 with his first hit Megarider. He would later collaborate with the late E-Sir in the smash hit Boomba Train. His other popular songs are Salari, Sinzia and Butterfly.

The multiple award winning pop artiste is a graduate of the University of Nairobi where he studied architecture. One of his major project as an architect is the Sh 4 billion Hub Shopping Mall in Karen.

2. Wahu – Singer, songwriter, actress and entrepreneur, Wahu Kagwi, or simply Wahu, is best known for her songs Niangalie, Liar and Sitishiki which catapulted her into stardom.

But Wahu would cement her name among the greats of her generation by winning the Best Female Artist category of the inaugural MTV Africa Music Award in 2008.

The sassy singer has also won many other local and regional music awards, among them the Pearl of Africa Music Awards (2008, Best Female Artist) and Kisima Music Awards (2008, Best Song).

After clearing high school, Wahu wanted to go to a hair dressing school, but her mother would hear none of it. She ended up graduating with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Nairobi.

Wahu is married to fellow award winning musician Nameless with whom they have two  daughters.

Celebrity couple Nameless with wife Wahu. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI
Celebrity couple Nameless with wife Wahu. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI

3. Frasha (P-UNIT member) – A common line in most of Frasha’s songs alludes to his ‘other’ profession as a doctor. Frasha, who recently released his first solo album titled – you guessed it right – Dakitare, worked at the Aga Khan Hospital until 2011 when he joined Bon-Eye and Gabu to form P-UNIT.

The P-Unit member has absolutely no regrets for quitting medical practice.

“No, I still consider myself a doctor. I used to do physiotherapy and I specialised in pain management — knees, backs, necks and sports injuries,” Frasha said during a recent interview with Showbuzz.

And his parents reaction when he quit medical practice?

“It was drama. First, my mum is a doctor and my dad is a teacher. I have opinionated parents who are old school. But at some point I just realised that wasn’t me. I was good at what I was doing but I felt it wasn’t my calling. It hurt them but they are now supportive of me,” he says.

4. Polycarp Otieno (Sauti Sol’s guitarist) – Polycarp aka Fancy Fingers is Sauti Sol’s lead guitarist and producer. He is not only good with his fingers but he graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) with a degree in Actuarial Science. He is said to be the brain behind Sauti Sol’s hit song Soma Kijana.

5. Maureen Kunga (Elani band member) – Early this month, Maureen become the second member of the high flying Afro pop band Elani to be admitted to the bar, following in the footsteps her colleague Bryan Chweya.

Ironically, during an earlier interview with Nairobi News, the Law graduate from the University of Nairobi said she gained more from University socially than academically.

Elani's Maureen Kunga (left) with her band members Bryan Chweya and Wambui Ngugi when she was admitted to the bar. PHOTO COURTESY
Elani’s Maureen Kunga (left) with her band members Bryan Chweya and Wambui Ngugi when she was admitted to the bar. PHOTO COURTESY

6. Bryan Chweya, (Elani band member) – In his own words, music was Bryan’s first love but his parents insisted he finishes his studies first before pursuing his passion.

Like Maureen, Bryan, who is the only male member of the band, is a Law graduate of the University of Nairobi.

“My parents told me to study first then do music, so I joined University of Nairobi for my Law degree and I was later admitted to the bar and now I am an advocate,” he told Nairobi News in an earlier interview.

7. Wambui Ngugi (Elani band member) – The third member of the group Elani, Wambui, holds a BSc in Actuarial Science from University of Nairobi although in her own admission, she has never used her degree in any conventional way.

In a recent interview with Nairobi News, Wambui described her entry into music as a “beautiful mistake.”

“I never thought I was a singer until one day my over achieving sister challenged me when I was around six years old to a singing competition which I won. For me that was that but I have always loved music and I’ve always thought musicians are very cool,” she said.

8. Sanaipei Tande – The songstress who was widely criticized for her 2014 music video, Mfalme wa Mapenzi, which was considered too sexy, is a trained Pharmacist at Kenya Medical Training College.

9. Amelina – The former Tusker Project Fame contestant went to school in South Africa where she went to British International College, in Johannesburg and later studied Hospitality and Operation Management at the International Hotel School from where she graduated in 2009.