Where did the name Momo come from?
A friend of mine who is a truck driver gave me a lift from Mombasa, and when we reached Mtito Andei, I overheard their conversation where they referred big women as ‘Momos’ and smaller ones as ‘vitz’ and ‘laptops’ and just like that, I decided to use it.
Many say it is an insult to plus-sized women.
It is not. Some people out there have given the word another meaning. I was just referring to the big trucks. In fact, before the song became a hit, I had no idea I will need to look for a plus-sized woman to feature on the video.
And how did you decide on featuring a big woman on video?
After the song became a hit on radio stations and people started to talk about it being about big women, then I had to look for a real big woman when shooting the video.
Was the search challenging?
Very much. At first I got many women who thought they were big but I kept telling myself there must be a real ‘Momo’ out there.
And how did you get her?
As the search was going on many women came but they weren’t the size I was looking for, until one day a friend of mine alerted me of this woman and when I saw her, I knew she was the kind of woman I wanted to feature in the video.
So she is real?
Yes she is.
And how did you get her to agree to be in the video?
She had heard about the song, so when I told her I was looking for a big woman to feature on the video, she was OK with it.
Did you pay her?
Yes I did. We also performed together during live shows as a band.
But rumours are that now you have even a bigger ‘Momo’? Is it true?
Yes. There was a time the first woman was busy, so I started to look for another one. One evening when I was on stage at a certain bar in Thika, I heard revellers screaming and when I looked up, I saw a plus, plus sized woman at the entrance.
I couldn’t believe my eyes because the woman I saw was bigger than the one who had acted on the video. She approached me, asking me that she had heard I was looking for a woman her size and there she was, she joined us on stage and since then she is quite an attraction in our live performances.
What inspired Momo?
During that trip, the truck consumed fuel worth over Sh50,000 half the trip. I try to relate how much a plus sized women will consume from you just like a big truck. It was all in jest.
What is the song really about?
It is about promiscuity and the cost of it. It advises men to keep off the “other woman”.
The name is now in common use, are you proud?
Yes I am. Every artiste is proud when fans appreciate his or her creativity. But some men corrupted the name to insult big women, which is bad. Some found themselves behind the bars.
What about your name, Wa Kahalf?
Initially, when I started live performances as a one man-guitar I used to perform under the stage name Man Murimi, but I realised the name was confusing with that of another one guitarist Mike Murimi. In 2008, when I released the song ‘Nduta Rooko’ (Buy me a drink), I decided to change my stage name to Murimi wa Kahalf, a direct translation from my mum’s name, Wakanuthu.
What does your mum and the women in your life think about the song?
My mum just asked me what was it she was hearing me singing on radio, and when I explained to her, she wished me all the best in my career. I am married with two daughters, first born aged five years and the second now five months old. My wife appreciates my music and has been my greatest supporter so this really keeps me going strong.
What do you call a fat man?
(Laughing) After I release my next song, which is about men of certain characters, maybe my fans will coin a nickname for them.
How much success has the song brought to you? How has it changed your life?
A lot of it. These days when I walk around town or the estate people who notice me say hi, while others point at me and say “Ndio ile Momo’. Such things never used to happen before. Also, I have received an invite to perform with my band to Kenyans living in Germany later in August.
Tell us about your band
It is called “Ndani ya Tao band” and has seven members. The name means we perform all genres of music. The band is run professionally and I am currently getting the necessary travel documents for every member as we prepare to tour Germany in August.
Has piracy eaten into this success?
Just like every musician in Kenya, I would say very much. Recently, I was moved to tears when I nabbed some pirates selling my music in Meru. I think the government should put in place necessary measures to ensure artistes benefit fully from their creativity.
Tell us about yourself?
I was born in Gichugu about 29 years ago. I began my education at Gatugura Primary School until six grade when my family moved to Meru where I joined Kiguma Primary School. I later joined Kahiga Secondary School, in Tigania East. After high school, I spent some time helping my mum at her shop and groceries in Sagana town.
When did you start singing?
I got interested in music while in primary school. But by then my mum was against my involvement in music. One day I went home with our church guitar but my mother, mistaking it for one belonging to a friend of mine she disliked, broke it into pieces. She was shocked to learn later that she had destroyed the guitar which entertained her at church during praise and worship.
Who inspired you to do what you do now?
After secondary school I started performing as a one-man guitarist in Sagana, with the guitar I had bought from my pocket money savings. By then I had mastered all the hit country music. Then, I met another guitarist known as Kaka, who encouraged me to come to Nairobi.
And how did you end up where you are now?
After arriving in Nairobi, I started performing in clubs and slowly my audience grew. In 2006, I released my first song ‘Irima rihandwo muti’. Like ‘Momo’, the song that was aimed at educating the masses about prevention against HIV/Aids, was widely received.
What next for Wakahalf?
I want to record music in Bongo and Genge genres. This is because I want to appeal to a larger audience and mostly help my music to penetrate the international market. I have a dream of topping international music charts.
Do you have a favourite artiste?
Yes. Kidum. When I listen to his music, it inspires me to record songs for national and international audience.