Connect with us

General

ONEXTRA: Ben Cyco’s passion for music keeps him motivated

Published

on

Loading...


By KAREN MBUYA MURIUKI
More by this Author

Ben Kariuki, formerly of an award-winning gospel group Christ Cycos, had to pursue his music career solo after the group split in 2016.

The 26-year-old talks to KAREN MURIUKI.

Ben Cyco is a jack of all trades. I am a musician, a content creator, a voice actor and a digital marketer. I’m ‘all under one roof’. (Laughs).

Music has always been an interest to me, since I was a child. I would record myself on a cassette tape, for those millennials who would remember what they were. I spoilt so many tapes by doing that. (Laughs). This was around 2004. I had albums by DJ Tosh, Ambassador and DNG. I was also interested in “The Stomp”. I would literally run from church so that I wouldn’t miss an episode. But it was all pure interest.

I had no idea I would become an artiste someday. I’ve grilled my grandmother a number of times confirming how no one in our family is interested in music like I am. I still wonder where my passion came from.

I joined Upper Hill and found people who loved music even more. So I joined the music club, but only so that I would attend functions at our sister school, State House Girls. (Laughs). My friends (Scofield and DJ Spin) and I formed Christ Cycos, where we started performing in school and people would cheer us on. We also got to meet girls, just as I planned, whenever we performed at functions. (Laughs).

We then started looking for recording studios around places like Komarock and Buru Buru, of which we’d be told that a session would cost us Sh3,000 or more. We did not have that money, of course. But we got to record our first song in 2009 and we were on top of the world. The song did not even do that well. (Laughs).

We parted ways soon after and I started looking for other artistes to join the group. One day, while at an Insyder event, a duo performed right after me and I was impressed. I approached them immediately and the group was back on after that.

Only after high school did we start recording music videos, which didn’t do too well. Our first song was played on TV in 2011. “I’m a Champion”, which we did in 2012, is what gave us good media coverage so it was upwards for Christ Cycos from then.

I knew I wanted to take my music career far, having kick started it early in life. My partners did not want that for themselves. That, plus the fact that music was not paying as much, made the group break up in 2016. Everyone was trying to focus on their own thing. Dambiz went into video shooting and The Dapper Brother went into fashion. We decided to work on something together, which was Neema.

“Neema” was a good song but I didn’t push it because I was still timid and afraid of how I would perform as a solo artiste. I didn’t believe in myself. But the songs I did afterward, while working on my confidence, started getting their ground naturally.

Loading...

I would describe my music as afro pop because it has a touch of African, a lot of melodies and vibes for days. That’s the new direction I am taking.

My latest single, “Like You”, is a song that talks about God’s goodness and how whatever He says, I do. Many times, I fail to do that but He remains patient with me. We short-change Him a lot.

I have always loved biology. You would be shocked at how knowledgeable I am about the human anatomy. I would definitely have been a doctor if I was not an artiste. Also, a detective or a cop. Crime and investigative issues really interest me.

I tried playing the violin when I was in high school but it was really hard. I’m shifty about learning a new instrument because I consider my voice as one in itself.

It’s hard for me to write a song that’s not inspired by past experiences – either what I have gone through or what I have seen happen. In this era, especially, people are more connected to authentic content. No one likes gimmicks. Which is why I think gospel artistes are bashed a lot these days. We have become too creative with our music that we lose people along the way. But gospel artistes have girlfriends too, if I may use that as an example, and it’s okay to show that other side too. I want to sell realness.

I’d love to work with various artistes based on their sound: Naiboi, Moji Short Baba, Nyashinski, Mercy Masika, and Kambua, just to name a few.

Growing up, DNG really influenced me. I didn’t even want to be like him. I wanted to be him. (Laughs). He was the coolest person then. Now, I am inspired by different artistes.

The passion and desire to do music keeps me motivated. I want to be a big gospel artiste. I want my music to be enjoyed by everyone, not necessarily by staunch Christians.

Airplay is the biggest challenge I think faces the gospel music industry in Kenya. We have good artistes who make good music but it just does not reach a wide audience. Fans also need to give gospel music a try without dismissing it in an instance.

I would like my fans to remember me for my music, good vibes and drawing them closer to God.

I like speed and I’m a good driver. I definitely see myself joining the rally team, but for now, I want a Mitsubishi Colt.



Loading...

General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

Published

on

Loading...

Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
[email protected]    

Loading...

Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

Published

on

Loading...

Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

Loading...

“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

Published

on

Loading...

Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

Loading...
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Loading...
Advertisement
Loading...

Trending

Kenyan Tribune