One of the biggest collabos to ever come out of the portside city of Mombasa is Susumila and Chikuzee’s Ngoma Itambae.
Released in 2013, the track rocked airwaves in Mombasa and spread in popularity across Kenya and neighbouring countries. A year later, the two released another track Hidaya and it took the music scene by storm. One thing was clear; that the two artistes had the chemistry. They were also close friends who knew how to complement each other. Whenever they hooked up, like it is the case of King Kaka and Sudi Boy, the result turned out to be a mega hit.
However, this chemistry was said to be super-ordinary, one that was driven by ‘higher powers’. It is these said ‘powers’ that would have all hell break loose in 2015. Tables turned.
In a twist of fate, the baby-faced Chikuzee came out guns blazing, accusing his collaborator of using black magic, especially to stifle his growth. This seemed to confirm what critics and music competitors had been accusing Sudi Boy of; using superpowers to stay aloft in the competitive music game.
“He practises witchcraft,” Chikuzee was quoted saying about his friend-now-turned-foe.
When Pulse interrogated Chikuzee, he alleged that Susumila has a white chair in his room that nobody else is allowed to sit on. He went on to allege that the same house is full of devilish symbols, which he allows no one to touch.
“If that’s not witchcraft, I really don’t know what is, but he is not a clean man. He has a wicked heart. He must stop that,” said Chikuzee.
In retaliation, Susumila too alluded that Chikuzee must have come across witchcraft.
“For a person to accuse me of practicing witchcraft, they must know what they are talking about,” he argued.
The two would later make up, and the waters cooled... for a short while. This year, the black magic talk is back.
Another showbiz star from the coast, Dogo Richie, has taken on fellow artistes in the lyrics to his song, Mziki Majanga, where he casts aspersions that popular hit-maker Sudi Boy sacrificed his wife for fame.
Sudi Boy lost his wife to pneumonia in 2015.
The soft-spoken Sudi Boy did not take the accusations kindly. He went wild, rubbishing the denunciations. This kind of talk did not start with the Susumila-Chikuzee tiff and if history is anything to go by, the Sudi Boy-Dogo Richie beef will not be the last one. Accusations of witchcraft among Coastal artistes have always been bubbling under the surface, waiting to spill over at any time.
From sarcastic, popular Taarab songs that women use to lambast co-wives, husbands, romantic competition — real or imagined — and the public in general, to stories of black cats appearing on stage during an artiste’s performance and microphones being switched off by unseen creatures, witchcraft and Coast are synonymous.
“Witchcraft in the game is real,” says Dogo Richie. “Many artistes are using black magic to stay relevant. There is no way witchcraft rumours would follow an artiste for over ten years and you fail to get some truth about that. Wherever there is smoke. Lisemwalo lipo!”
His views are supported by Rojo Mo, another star behind the hit single Vampire. He says witchcraft does exist among artistes in the Coast showbiz scene. He even goes ahead to threaten that he can name and shame.
“There are artistes who visit mababu (witchcraft shrines) for some special treatment,” says the rapper-cum-actor, who features in popular local drama series Moyo. “Using ndumba (witchcraft) or consulting witchdoctors has been in the showbiz scene since time immemorial. In fact at some point it was so normal that people stopped talking about it. It is more or less an act of protecting oneself against evil and attacks by fellow artistes.”
Rojo Mo explains that most artistes believe they need to stay protected from evil spirits and curses by other jealous artistes.
Conversely, there are those who visit these shrines to see to it that their competitors’ stage charm and influence dims so that fans stop liking them and their songs do not make any impact.
Pulse has established that when it comes to the worst, artistes ask for death portions to be cast against competition either through road accidents or strange diseases, or that one may go mad.
“There is belief that one must protect his art, and as such, people will go to any measure to ensure their act and art stays firm,” notes Rojo Mo. Hassan Faizal, the Coast Films Production CEO laments that most people are just lazy and want shortcuts.
“There is a lot happening at the Coast. People are working hard and they are not seeing a way through. That is why they opt for alternatives such as witchcraft and black magic to prosper. It is just wrong,” says the leading entertainment star who also tells Pulse that someone once tried to kill him through witchcraft.
Hassan tells Pulse that he visits from jinns (spirits) at night and they would even strangle him and his children. He later sought spiritual intervention.
“That is behind me now and my enemies have been defeated. The truth is that these things happen,” he asserts.
Historically, the coast has always been associated with jinns and black magic, a fact that Dogo Richie points to, when explaining the phenomena.
“From our great grandparents to our fathers, there has always been belief that some instances and occurrences can only be egged on by a higher power. There are talented artistes around. However, some are not talented so they just force issues,” he adds.
From wearing charms on waists to visiting shrines before shows, artistes have been rumoured to call onto these ‘higher powers’ whenever they want a breakthrough.
One leading Mombasa artiste is even accused of rubbing a ring he always wears severally when doing his performance to charm his fans. A spot check by Pulse on most Mombasa artistes showed that indeed many wear trade mark rings and charm bling.
“We all have different reason why we wear rings. For myself, I have always loved shiny jewellery, and all my rings are for swagger,” Rojo Mo defends himself, explaining that there are indeed rings associated with evil spirits.
“There are some rings with some certain stones that are used as charm. Those exist among guys here,” he adds.
A source tells Pulse that the entry of county governments spurred the rivalry among artistes as they each struggled to get a piece of the pie. This, according to our source has gotten artistes to try by all means to get the attention of those with the big deals.
According to the source, some artistes have been visiting waganga (witchdoctors) to lock business deals and ensure they are always on the roster of every big event that takes place in Mombasa.
Some of these accusations have been levelled at Susumila, Ally B, and Sudi Boy among others, artistes who have been showstoppers in most of these events. These claims cannot be confirmed and Pulse distances itself from them.
In his song Mziki Majanga, Dogo Richie hits out at artistes, asking them to be content with their talents and to detest from witchcraft.
“Talented artistes are easy to recognise because they do not do much to push their songs. It’s these struggling artistes who have shows but are not talented that we need to be wary of...especially Mombasa artistes,” he concludes.