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She’s East Africa’s Rihanna: Rotimi recalls how he won Vanessa Mdee’s heart

Chance encounters and unexpected connections often lead to the most beautiful harmonies. Such is the case for Rotimi, the multi-talented Nigerian-born artiste, and Vanessa Mdee, the Tanzanian music sensation.

Their love story is one that transcends borders and proves that fate has a way of bringing two souls together at the right time. In a recent interview on ‘Earn Your Leisure’ podcast, Rotimi spoke about his first encounter with Vanessa prior to their relationship. 

It all started at the Essence Festival, a vibrant celebration of black culture and music, where Rotimi and Vanessa both performed on stage. Little did Rotimi know that this seemingly ordinary encounter would change the course of his life forever.

Rotimi, Vanessa Mdee
Vanessa Mdee and Rotimi. PHOTO | COURTESY

At the time, Rotimi said he was living a reckless life, but meeting Vanessa grounded him. She not only captivated him with her beauty but also with her talent and success as one of Tanzania’s biggest music stars.

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“Vee is an incredible woman, she saved my life because I was out here thotting. She’s an artiste herself, one of the biggest in Tanzania, basically the East African Rihanna,” he started. 

He also recounted how they met.

Vanessa Mdee and her fiance Olu Rotimi Akinosho. PHOTOS | FILE

“We met at Essence, she had a show there and I was performing on the main stage at Essence. So this one particular weekend, I saw her sitting at a pool table and I was like, ‘Oh my God’. I didn’t know her at the time. I was introduced to her way before but at that time I wasn’t really interested, but the second time around we talked for like 15 minutes, and 15 minutes turned into 2 hours,” Rotimi recounted.

At that point, Rotimi was in the process of building his home in Atlanta. Despite being continents apart, the couple stayed in touch and their love blossomed.

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Four months of constant communication proved that their connection was real and meaningful. And then, Vanessa expressed her desire to visit Rotimi in the United States. 

“Vee then told me that she wanted to see me again before she left, and I told her I had a situation that I had to deal with first and didn’t want to do her dirty, and normally I would be down. But with Vee, I had respect for her. So she leaves, but we stayed in touch, and at the time I was building my house in Atlanta,” he said. 

Rotimi, Vanessa Mdee and son, Seven
Rotimi, Vanessa Mdee and son, Seven. PHOTO | COURTESY

What made their love even more unique was Vanessa’s revelation that she intended to retire from music. After 15 years of a successful music career, she wanted to focus on her personal growth, business ventures and self-discovery. This decision might have surprised many, but Rotimi fully supported her dreams and aspirations. 

“By the time she was coming to Atlanta, we were an exclusive couple. When we first met she was already telling me she wants to retire. By the time the house was done, she and I had already hit 4 months of talking long-distance. She told me she wanted to come to the States, she came and I told her she didn’t have to go back and she stayed, never left,” he recounted.

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