A couple that sings together, stays together
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Music is the magic that keeps gospel artistes Joseph and Eunice Kwallah alive—whether practising at home, recording in studio or singing on stage.
The Kenyan-born couple currently based in United Kingdom (UK) has been producing songs together since last year.
So far, they have recorded five songs. However, Eunice has composed many songs, which they are yet to be record.
“My wife’s passion for music can be traced back to her childhood. She always desired to be a gospel artiste,” says Joseph.
After relocating from Kenya to UK 13 years ago, Eunice thought that her dream of becoming a gospel artiste would never come true.
Being in a foreign land, she didn’t know where to start. At some point, she wished to come back to Kenya, at least to record her songs.
“I came to the UK on a work permit visa in 2006, working in the hotel industry. My wife and children joined me in 2007.
Though she was happy being in a foreign land, she used to ask me if I knew someone who could help her produce her music there. This really challenged me,” Joseph recalls.
After talking to several Kenyans working abroad, the couple was referred to a Kenyan producer, Zangi Alex.
This was the good news she had eagerly been waiting to hear for such a long time.
Joseph also decided to support his wife by being a backing vocalist. “Finding a music producer and a videographer who are both Kenyans and have a good understanding of Kenyan music was the best thing that has happened to our music journey.
Courtesy of them, we have managed to produce the best beats since they understand what the Kenyan music industry loves,” Joseph says.
The couple recorded their first song in August 2019. “We usually go to the studio, which is eight hours drive from where we live during school holidays, so we can also have time out together as a family.
We practise at home during our off days, and at church - when the church was open,” he says.
But Joseph reveals that though they are now recognised as some of the renowned Kenyan gospel artistes abroad, their main aim is to reach, inspire and change people through music.
“Our music genre is gospel reggae. I loved reggae music when I was growing up.
After I got born again, I moved on to love gospel reggae. Our inspiration comes from our daily life activities, listening to other gospel artistes and what God has done and still doing in our lives,” he adds.
Parenting in UK
There is solidity in playing music together. “You have someone who holds your back and you can rely on in music and in life. You sort of complement each other with every sound you make,” he says.
So, how have they managed to keep their music career alive despite being in a foreign country?
Joseph says that having an audience in UK that loves their songs and others back here has kept them going.
“It hasn’t been easy for us because initially we used to have different work schedules.
I used to work at night and during the day I would take care of our children when my wife was either at work or in school,” he reveals.
Joseph says parenting in the UK is an expensive affair. “There are no house girls unlike in Kenya.
The closest to house girls in UK are child minders who are only hired to watch over the children and not to do any house chores like you would expect a house girl to do in Kenya.
On the other hand, their fees are charged per hour and to say the least, it is the only desperate decision one can make,” says the father of three.
Also, children in UK cannot be left on their own unattended, until the age of 16.
This is why Joseph had to make a sacrifice to work at night for him to take care of the children during the day.
“We learned how to share responsibilities among ourselves, helping one another in house chores and other duties.
Despite all this, we are still grounded on Christian ethos and that has made our life much easier.
Each one of us knows their place in the family. I remain a husband and she remains a wife, but we mutually agree on issues that have to be done,” Joseph shares.
Apart from music, the couple is involved in charity work. In 2016 Joseph run 100 kilometres in UK to raise funds for Wetherby and District Food bank. He managed to rise Sh300,000 for the food bank.
He has also been involved in charity work back in Kenya. Some of these charities are Tear Fund, Bible Society and Joanna Project - Leeds.
Together with family and friends, they have opened a community library in Ngong Township Primary School and they are hoping to open a second one in Nakuru county at a place called Tangi Tano.
They also support some local football teams in Kenya by collecting football kits in UK and ship them over to Kenya.
“I was moved when I heard that there are people going hungry in the UK in the 21st century and because God has abundantly provided for me, I had to play my part by feeding the hungry.
That is why I decided to run to raise some funds for the food bank,” he says.
Kiangini Secondary School, Makueni. But after an year, he got scholarship again and went back to his former secondary school in Nairobi.
Come final exams, Tricky scored an A. He was absorbed in his alma mater as a teacher teaching science subjects.
“The challenges he has passed through in life equipped him to assist his students with their assignments as he would stay with them until late at night,” she reveals.
His monthly salary was around Sh6,000 from which he rented a house and further supported his family.
Tricky later received his admission to join Kenyatta University (KU) and was required to pay Sh20,000, an amount he didn’t have. As a result, he deferred his studies.
“He was supposed to join KU in 2012 to pursue biochemistry, but he deferred and changed to mechanical engineering in 2013,” Anne says.
“He was the first person in our village to go to university. Here, he still was an A student and was loved by his lecturers.
During long holidays, he would go back home and continue teaching. It was in his second year that he became the vice chair of the Mechanical Engineering School Association.
It was also in this year that his comedy and MC’s skills were honed when he joined the drama club,” she continues.
In 2014, Tricky joined Kenyatta University Travelling theatre, which was started by comedians Walter Mong’are and Tony Njuguna.
He became the chairman of the group after a year and through it, he would end up performing for president Uhuru Kenyatta, the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and many other dignitaries such as former US president Barack Obama in 2015.
He auditioned for Churchill Show in 2016. Though he failed in his first attempt, he sailed through the second audition.
What made him get the part was remembering a character who made his life bearable during that dark 2008 year.
“He wanted to show people that even during tough times, there is something one can learn from the situation,” she says.
His chokora role would eventually catapult him to fame. But some of his villagers and critics question his fast rise to fame and fortune.
Some naysayers in the village think that he belongs to the famous illuminati cult. Some even thought that they had a jinni, something that has made Anne go slow with her neighbours.
“Presently, the people he used to farm for are the ones farming for him. My son always tells us to never treat them the way they treated us and when he does shopping, he always tells us to share with those who stood with us during our tough moments,” Anne says in conclusion.