There is always a stir of excitement where Redykyulass is concerned. Ever since the trio entertainers came together in 1998, they have managed to amuse audiences from East Africa, as well as overseas.
The group that consists of Walter Mongare also known as Nyambane, Tony Njuguna and John Kiarie (KJ) got the opportunity to tour the States again this year. Redykyulass has been touring the States every summer since 2000, and with each year, their fans and performances have diversified. This years’ tour got them performing in States like California, Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia and Washington DC, where they drew endless laughter from audiences. Their close out tour was in Minnesota at Park Centre High School in Brooklyn Park.
That is where I got the chance to sit down and have a one-on-one with KJ. After formally introducing ourselves to each other, KJ and I chat a bit, as we wait for Njeri Karanja and her crew from Ladha Ya Kenya to set up and record the interview. KJ begins by letting me know that the tour has been amazing, judging from the feedback they’ve received from audiences across the States. It’s a wonderful experience to see the reception of different acts from year to year, and especially with audiences that attend each year, this tour has been well recieved and highly acknowledged. Though the acts are always new, there are some Redykyulass classics that are a must see. However, the group modifies them to ensure there is no exact replica.
During their performances, KJ, Walter and Tony bring out wit and humour on new issues that are captivating and relative to everyday life. The group is intent on engrossing the audience with humorous skits that evoke nostalgic emotions of back home. When Redykyulass is not killing audiences with laughter, they take time to attend concerts and visit various tourist attractions. They also make it a point to interract in depth with East Africans living in the States, listen to their stories and somehow incorporate them in their show.
Despite their busy schedule and the long drives from State to State, KJ says that the tour is in some way a vacation due to individual full time jobs back home in Nairobi, Kenya.
Any future plans? Well, KJ says, we are living part of those plans out. When Redykyulass first came together, there was a lot of intimidation, sabotage and threats. Some shows didn’t appeal to the government, but fortunately the group was never arrested. Credible for their talent and persistent in their art, the group continued to become big as their audience grew. Now, not only are they living out their dreams, but also helping others realise their own dreams and talents.
A few years back they presented Mzee Ojwang Hatari from Vitimbi with the opportunity to tour with them. This year, KJ was proud to inform me that they had a new sensation in their midst, Daniel Ndambuki, who goes by the name Churchill, an act all on his own and a good addition to the group. Besides this, Redykyulass are the hosts of Red Corner, a televised show in Kenya that helps promote new artists.
Having been in the entertainment industry for almost a decade now, Redykyulass has taken their fame to a different level. They begun a movement, Vijana Tugutuke, a youth campaign in Kenya that helps bring awarenes to the importance of voting for government leaders. The campaign infroms and helps the youth register as voters, provides facts on how to use the voters card, and instills the significance of each person actively voting. KJ believes that the youth should strive to better themselves, become an authority of sorts and influence others positively.
As a generation we have a mission to fulfill and if the youth can work collectively, then we can all have a better society to be dependant on. KJ, who represented both Tony and Walter during this interview, attests to Redykyulass living out their part of the mission.
Later, I joined the rest of the audience at Park Centre High School auditorium on a comedic journey by Redykyulass – and true to KJ’s word – their new sensation, Churchill.
This years’ tour was promoted by Posta Pay, an instant money transfer company, and George Ndege (Jojo) of Kilimanjaro Entertainment. Inclusive in the tour as well was Bob Nyanja, Director of the new Kenyan movie Malooned, which was aired to the audience before the Redykyulass performance begun and Linda Muthama, second runners-up of Tusker Project Fame, who opened the show with the Kenyan National Anthem.