The cost of life in the fast lane
Posted Saturday, March 3 2012 at 13:02
They would feel discouraged, so we do our best to look as glamorous as possible to give them hope,” Ringtone said.
Award-winning songbird Amani says artistes’ lives are public.
“Media and fans will know what car you drive, where you buy your clothes or even where you live. Since that’s the situation, I only put a barrier when it comes to going inside my house. It’s the only private place I have and I do my best to protect it,” she said.
Her counterpart Avril has been forced to make really tough choices as a public figure.
“I either have to use a cab or I hire a car. Many times I have had to close my eyes and use the money I have just because I don’t want to use a matatu,” she said.
Kenyan celebrities – sports, radio and TV personalities – are going to great lengths to satisfy their fans’ expectations with a life in the fast lane.
Many times they have been forced to spend money they didn’t have in order to fit the celebrity billing. There are some who live with their parents to avoid paying rent, but have also to be flashy when they appear in public.
But at what expense? Fakii Liwali, a Nairobi-based artistes manager, says musicians should “be real”.
“It is true that fans expect them to live a celebrity life, but are they ready both financially and mentally?” Fakii asked.
“Many times I have managed artistes, where they get paid about Sh50,000, then they lie to their friends that they were paid Sh150,000. They spend Sh20,000 on two pairs of jeans and another Sh20,000 on drinks for friends and hangers-on.”
In a recent interview, the self-styled King of Bling CMB Prezzo said there were times he would spend all the money he earned at a concert to entertain his friends and fans.
“I used to have so many people hanging around me everywhere I went to perform. I’d buy them drinks all night, spending all the money I had been paid, and that was life,” said Prezzo, who recently relaunched his singing career.
As far as dress is concerned, Ringtone says there were times he would send people to shop for him at cheap markets.
To keep up with her status, Avril says she has been forced to hire a designer who will be choosing clothes for her.
Fakii says the flashy lifestyle lasts as long as the gigs. When they fall off the charts and stage life becomes “stressful”.
“If an artiste doesn’t lose friends, they move houses to cheaper ones to avoid being kicked out due to lack of rent,” he said. Sociologists say it is dangerous to take life as a on-day affair.
Dr Francis Kerre of Kenyatta University says: “They (celebrities) think that if they are able to perform today at the Carnivore and get paid Sh100,000, it will be the same tomorrow. They don’t ask themselves hard questions like how often they will get such an amount and what they can invest in as a fall-back plan.”
But not all Kenyan celebrities have fallen into that trap. NTV news anchor Nimrod Taabu is one of them. “There is that pressure of being in the public eye,” he said.