Remembering an Enigma

Fatuma Ansaro


By Kena Korleyte


She is the E-Sir of Rendille music. The mother of modern Rendille tunes. The bravest soul to take on the intricacies of a barren desert whose monotony was broken by a few one-man-guitar acts. This was what the music landscape in Rendille land was.
Her name was Fatuma Ansaro and her life was cut short one evening a few years ago in the crowded streets of Eastleigh, Nairobi, when an Alshabaab operative lobbed a hand grenade into a passenger bus. The resulting explosion ripped the bus apart and a few people lost their lives.

Among the unlucky ones was Fatuma. Her demise robbed the Rendille people of one of the sharpest minds of the time, a rising star and a fierce trailblazer.
The pain and the tears knew no bounds. The departed princess left a gaping hole and just like anyone worth their salt and in the typical fashion of the likes of Biggie, Tupac, Michael Jackson and such greats, people started to take note of her influence on the local music scene after her departure. Am not saying the success of our daughter came close to that of the legends named above but who knew where her ship would have sailed?

The present crop of musicians who belt out tunes in perfect Rendille have had a great icon to look up to in her. A few of them had been under her tutelage directly.

Fatuma’s songs introduced a new beat, one that deviated from the monotony of screeching guitar strings. She held the Rendille music in her hands and slapped the mediocrity and archaic out of it. Still reeling from her slap, she gave our music style.
She sang about love.

This, for people who knew how to say I love you but not ‘weiti kidhona’ and honey instead of ‘malabaya’ was a new world. I remember the silence that greeted her ‘weiti kidhona’ song when it was released. The silence gave way to soft humming before it crescendoed to a frenzy bordering on madness. From there, it was a smooth sail home for her music as it gripped the hearts of the musically famished folks of Rerina.

Her music had content. It resonated with people of all generations and social strata. Her language was impeccable and this endeared her to everybody especially the elderly who saw hope for the tribe. This came at a time when many young people including yours truly could not hold a coherent conversation in their mother tongue. She ignited flames in the recesses of our minds and hearts.

Fatuma had a stint at one of the local radio stations based in Nairobi. While she was at it, she also tried her hand in modelling. This led her to contest in the very first Miss Tourism Marsabit county 2013 pageant where she emerged the first runners up despite being the best suited candidate for the crown. It was evident from that pageant that her confidence and regal posture could only be as a result of strutting a few cat walks and posing in a few photo shoots. Lights…camera…action.

Charm, vivacity, humility, boundless beauty and brains to boot. These were just but a few of her traits. Her charm was infectious. Wherever she was, she exuded an aura of self confidence and carried herself with respect and dignity. None of the so called musicians we have today can even come close to touching the straps of her shoes.

Be that as it may, we have to give respect where it is due. Adiken and a few others are on the right path. They are formidable in their own ways. The rest of these blubbering dullards should either stop using auto tune or put the mic down and go to class. In fact, what you are doing is muddying the pond. My advice: get in touch with your people. And while you are at it cultivate some content.

I am sure that from the skies above, she looks down upon the result of her work and smiles. The question that many ask is where will she be by now if she was still alive? Only God can answer that. They say that nothing good lasts but for her, the legacy that she had created succeeds her.

A tribute befitting her this is not. Maybe one day one of us will right this wrong by writing her biography. Maybe it will be me or somebody else. I don’t want to make promises to the dead because when they come to collect, they mean business. For now, I look up to the sky and raise my glass.
Rest in peace Cuz.

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