In Summary
  • To any upcoming artiste who might find themselves in a situation where the internet is propelling them to fame, producer Tedd Josiah advised that they grab the moment.
  • Pastor Susan and her husband have used media interviews to market their church, Overcomers Hope Ministry in Nairobi’s Kasarani, where they have been ministering for 15 years.

Search “twa twa” on YouTube and the results will show you a phenomenon.

They will show you that Pastor Susan Munene, whose talk about sex and marriage went viral for the use of the words “twa twa twa” as euphemism for getting intimate, has so far done interviews at more than eight media stations alongside her husband Joseph.

They will show you that at least five songs have been done by various artistes with “twa twa” in their titles, and that a number of actors have also done skits that have “twa twa” as part of their titles.

Pastor Munene, who was not famous until the weekend starting November 22, is the latest addition to Kenya’s list of accidental celebrities — people who made remarks in one occasion without the slightest idea that their message could later go viral and make them famous overnight.

From the Kisumu woman whose complaint about floods became a national punchline to the eyewitness whose description of a robbery became a message everyone wanted to ape, every so often a person comes out of the woodwork through a viral image and in within no time, he or she is a household name.

PASSING CLOUD

Though he is reluctant to admit it, musician Steven Otieno, aka Stivo Simple Boy, rose to fame by chance in July.

Through Stivo’s appearance in a TV interview alongside his fellow artiste and friend, who uses the stage name Handsome Boy, comedian Vincent “Chipukeezy” Muasya dubbed them the Cute Boys Association and it was the trigger for something Stivo hardly expected.

Given his looks (which some thought were ironical when compared to the supposed name of his association) and his song "Mihadarati", Stivo fast became a talking point, and soon he was the subject of memes and the voice of messages in which a person wanted to tell another to show their sober selves.

There are those who argue that Stivo is just a passing cloud because of what he has displayed so far in terms of musical talent; that his fame is more because of his face than what he is contributing to music.

But in an interview with Lifestyle, Stivo said those notions are of no effect to him.

“All perceptions are OK; I will just do my work. If it impresses someone, fine. If someone hates it, it’s also fine,” said the soft-spoken 29-year-old.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Stivo said he had lost count of the number of interviews he has attended since July on radio and TV stations.

His new-found celebrity status has opened doors to places any upcoming artiste would die for, among them a recent project where he was incorporated alongside established artistes like Nameless, Big Pin and Jegede.

Taking stock of the rise of Stivo and other musicians who have the internet to thank for rising to fame, long-serving producer Tedd Josiah said social media is providing a new platform for launching careers.

“I would say it’s a new way of getting an audience and market without mainstream media interfering,” reasoned Tedd, who has been in the music industry for three decades.

Asked whether that kind of channel can produce a long-lasting star, Tedd said it depends on the artiste’s strategy.

What of Stivo? How is his nascent musical career likely to unfold?

“It’s very difficult to predict, to be honest. It’s not about looks. There are very many people who make a living from being not good-looking. And they make a lot of money, more than you and I,” said the producer, who kick-started careers of artistes like Nameless, Redsan, Kalamashaka among others.

“So you cannot predict based on that. It has to be on something different, which is: what gifts does he have and how is he maximising them in terms of making finances out of it?” Tedd posed.

GRAB YOUR MOMENT

This year also saw the emergence of Alvindo, a young man from Nairobi who sang a song to blow off steam after a break-up.

He ended up being an online sensation, not least because the song titled "Taka Taka" was banned by Kenya’s self-declared moral policeman Ezekiel Mutua, who heads the Kenya Film Classification Board.

To any upcoming artiste who might find themselves in a situation where the internet is propelling them to fame, Tedd advised that they grab the moment.

“Do your level best to get your name out there because your name will become your calling card. And once you have a proper calling card, then you can start to make moves in the various fields that you want to trade in. It’s that simple,” said the music producer.

Corporates have also been keen on some of the accidental celebrities, often involving them in advertising campaigns.

Safaricom, for instance, has had Jose “the witness” (Joseph Mburu) and the woman perturbed by floods (Jane Adika) on its billboards before.

Among the others it enlisted is Bonoko (Francis Kimani), who shot to fame after his account of an extrajudicial killing became the talk of the town.

According to Boniface Ndagwa, who is well-versed in the advertising field through his role as the general manager of Perfect Vision Group, an advertising agency, such persons are an “easy” option for corporates.

ADVERTISEMENTS

Their biggest offering to advertisers, said Mr Ndagwa, is familiarity.

“With familiarity, there’s that head-start when they are trying to push a product or a service. Why this is important is because there is a big fight for brand relevance. What happens is that on average, you encounter over 3,000 brands a day: The car you drive, the pen you write with, the company you work for, and such,” he told Lifestyle.

“So, it’s a real battle for brands. What these guys would do, because of the accidental, sensational fame, there is already that familiarity. So corporates will always try to fight for a head-start. The introduction part is already sorted,” added Mr Ndagwa.

He also reasoned that the matter of costs makes the accidental celebrities a prime product.

Page 1 of 2