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ONE ON ONE: Hopekid

Monday December 16 2019

Gospel musician Benson Simon Peter Wambua,

Gospel musician Benson Simon Peter Wambua, better known as Hopekid. COURTESY 

THOMAS RAJULA
By THOMAS RAJULA
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Peter Wambua aka Hopekid was at the centre of an alleged sex scandal early this year that took a heavy toll on all parties involved. However, despite the incident, he has been a busy man and talks to Thomas Rajula about the drama, losing friends and cash, and his new album.

You’re working on your album, which will be released next year. Does it have a title?
Not yet, but I want to call it My Testimony or Testimony because I’ve gone through a lot. Diamonds or gold have to undergo a tough process and lose a lot of their original properties in order to become precious metals. After the scandal in which DK Kwenye Beat and I were named, I got to a place where I was only getting two phone calls in a day.

I thought a lot about it and felt like it probably meant God was telling me “I need you alone for this next phase, leave the donkeys behind”. Just like Moses at the burning bush. I have to pick 12 or 16 of about 50 tracks to go in the album while the rest will just be released as singles on YouTube.

How did you come to know about the scandal?
I was going at a meeting at True D Pictures offices when the situation first broke out on Twitter. We were all curious to find out who these gospel artistes were because the situation didn’t register with me. Around evening is when DK and I were mentioned as Mr X and Mr Y.

The reason the story escalated fast is because of two things, I believe. In today’s society, it’s hard to go against the girl-child in public even if you have done nothing wrong.

Secondly, her story was told in a way that appealed to people’s sympathy. And the fact that DK and I were involved because we’re close buddies, it meant neither of us could vouch for the other.

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Was it true, because you’ve been really quiet about it?
We hashed it out and there is an NDA on the story. I feel like those who needed to know the truth do know. I’m glad we had the right counsel: Bishop Welly Odendo of Life Pool church and Karay Blue, who dealt with the issue. It’s important to have a mentor or someone who can help you navigate the industry.
What was the impact of this incident on your brand?
I lost a lot of endorsements and gigs I was to perform at, to the tune of about Sh3 million. But then again, there were other companies, like condom and beer companies, who wanted me to be the face of their campaigns because I was trending. Also, I became known outside of Kenya; Trace TV and MTV came to find out about me then.

We can’t predict God’s work. The unfortunate part is that we in the gospel industry are judged as a group. So a lot of those in the fraternity cut ties with me without caring whether the reports were true or not.

Gospel musician Benson Simon Peter Wambua,
Gospel musician Benson Simon Peter Wambua, better known as Hopekid. PHOTO | COURTESY

Wasn’t it ironic that your songs “Huduma” and “Pray for Me” had just come out months before?
Music is prophecy, that’s what I always say. My music connects with people, months after I release them. In “Huduma”, I was advising gospel artistes to keep away from scandals in order to promote their tracks and just stick to spreading the message. “Pray for Me” was inspired by Pozze, telling the church not to be harsh on those who fall but instead help them out.

The church preaches forgiveness but it’s the last place you will find it at. After this incident, I was chased out of a church even though I was just in the audience. No one is perfect though. I understood why artistes felt like they need to protect “the bag” by not wanting to do music with me.

Did you ever consider leaving gospel music?
It’s the people who let me down, not God. Why should I leave God’s work to please them? Funny enough, my music has been getting better reception from fans.

So what have you been up to?
In February, in collaboration with Autism Lights, we took two vans worth of food to the hunger stricken residents of Turkana; going door-to-door to deliver them. Autism Lights approached me towards the end of last year after they saw the love I have for children.

I am their brand ambassador and I don’t do it for money. I have come to realise that there comes a time that you have to stand for something bigger than yourself. You don’t need money to spread love.

We work together to spread awareness, stop stigma and pass legislation to help autistic people access facilities and medicine. Autism Lights director Wamaratu Chege has lobbied county governments in Nairobi, Nakuru, Garissa, Baringo and Nyandarua to pass bills in favour of this. This initiative has also helped me grow my fan base.

Gospel singer Simon Peter Wambua, better known
Gospel singer Simon Peter Wambua, better known as Hopekid, is the brand ambassador for Autism Lights. PHOTO| COURTESY

How did you net Khaligraph Jones for “Testimony”?
His brother, KOB, was our hood producer back in the day. One day he asked a shy “Brayo” to come and rap on a beat he had set up for me. Since then, we’ve grown together and I can call him brother. This was just the right moment to do a long overdue collabo.

What is your view of endorsements?
I’ve worked with Oppo, Jambo Jet, The Shack before. Majorly, it’s value-for-value and not necessarily for currency. But the outfits I usually show off are from my friends’ shops. That way, they can hook me up with looks for my shows and shoots even if I don’t have money. We should learn to promote local businesses rather than international brands.

We see you with a certain beauty on social media; tell us about that.
We have been seeing each other since early this year. Njambi Giitwa and I have been friends since 2016. She works in the ICT, real estate and she's also a fitness enthusiast and YouTuber. She pushes me to work harder and fight procrastination.

She’s always seen the potential in me and wants me to be better. Plus, she was there during the scandal. I thought that this is the person I need to be with, especially after she stood by me in that torrid time.

I posted about matching kitenges with someone’s daughter and she had posted the same in 2018. So we thought we’d just do it together. (Laughs). She’s also done one of my videos which I’ll be releasing in January; it was her favourite song in the collection.

She has her own way of doing videos, you'll see how different it is from the ones I've done in the past. It felt like I was just at home, and my girlfriend's following me around with her phone.

However, she was more meticulous about how I looked like compared to other directors I've worked with; she even ensured my hair wasn't standing out or my outfit wasn't hanging

Plans for next year?
I’ll also release my HK clothing line in February 19, my birthday. I have been dreaming about this since I was in high school. It will have swaggy outfits and also business-type (including blazers, trousers, shirts and suits) for men, while containing a lot of casual wear for women.

QUICK FIRE

What is your spirit animal, why?
I’ll go with wolf; its intelligence, instincts and social properties.
Your dream ride would be a (make and model)?
Mercedes G63 AMG.
Favourite scripture in the Bible?
Proverbs 4:23.
Most awesome thing a fan has done for you?
Sketching my drawing.
How many kids would you like to have?
I’d love to have four of them.

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