BY JACKAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Legend has it that Emmy Kosgeyâ€™s left tit â€“ or the right â€“ is fake.
This is probably a wicked opening to any narrative that tells the story â€“ any story – of Emmy Kosgey. But this is not one of those ego massaging vain articles you read in True Love.
This is the other story; the untold story. You will have to read about the flawless character, the saint and the other positive exaggerations elsewhere. Not here.
The work of the popular singer in recent years has riveted the Kenyan nation with pious awe and inspired many.
Her dark side has hardly been reported.
I first met Emmy Kosgey in 2005 near Hurlingham, Nairobi. Her ivory-white front teeth contrasted markedly with her ebony dark face and hairy hands â€“ exposed by her sleeveless flowing flowery maxi dress.
Her eyes blazed and pierced with uncomfortable steadiness. Her high cheek bone accentuated her warm sheepish smile.
As a shy cub reporter, I was keen to meet the new girl who had just released a popular Kalenjin song.
Her music resonated with unapologetic power and soothed like mursik, on an empty stomach. Her rendition was creative, original and rich in vocabulary that concerned old men.
Her Katau Banda and Nguno (Atinye Amune) hits were not anything anyone had heard of.
For years, Joel Kimeto and her Great Commission Singers in Kericho had been singing a chilling genre that only played in funerals – at worst – and when retired president Daniel arap Moi visited â€“ at best.
His music – with lyrics warning of end of times – provided the perfect soundtrack to the horror of HIV stigma that swept the Kalenjin nation like bushfire in late 80â€™s and in 90â€™s.
And then this primitive kid â€“ with powerful voice and shy smile – unknown to anyone, burst into the spotlight, without a warning or apology.
She offered hope, encouragement and redemption to the desolate souls.
Yet she was dead frightened. Scared stiff like a girl seeing her first blood. Afraid that she was breaking the glass ceiling in music industry hitherto dominated by the legendary Kipchamba arap Topotuk, who sang about virtually everything, love, hate, God, end of timeâ€¦ – without a strategy.
There was nothing else to sing about at the time.
In Hurlingham, in that late 2005 afternoon, I felt way too inadequate â€“ lacking in grace and finesse – to ask this black princess who she was. I was more interested in where she came from.
Her humility was awesome.
Watching Game of Thrones recently, I realized the word I was looking for to describe her was â€˜â€˜high bornâ€™â€™. (In retrospect, she was not)
I would later understand, from my Kelenjin friends, that she was a prototype of the girl that Tumbalal arap Sang had earlier sung of in Kitot Kobaran.
And here was I; a curious freelance journalist with threadbare understanding of how the world of modern music works, sitting with a rising star.
I wondered to myself, with crazy amusement, whether, a girl who attended some village school in Baringo had watched the Titanic. On impulse, I wanted to sort of defend myself, by quoting to her what Jack told Rose.
â€˜â€˜I’m not an idiot, I know how the world works.â€™â€™ But of course I knew that was thoroughly sick.
She told me it was by grace that she had sung â€“ at all â€“ and well. I admit I liked her spirit.
I liked her music more. They spoke to the pitiful souls of men and holy hearts of AIC church women. They promised identity glue to lost Kalenjin elites in urban centres who attended regular EMO (fellowship group) meetings in Kilimani.
Emmy Kosgey started singing as a back up artist to Esther Wahome, the Kuna Dawa girl.
Her father, Rev Jackson Kosgey, wrote several lines, or substituted vocabulary in her songs. She went to John Nyika, a talented audio producer who created a star.
In the end, Emmy conquered the world. She toured the earth; met many mortals who matter in our generation.
Most of her success came with the release of her third album Taunet Neleel; a contemporary dance hit that deviated from the anointment of her previous two albums.
And along the way, the vanity grew from the heart of the Kalenjin princess. Self-importance and show off that fed on the promise of good life, luxury and â€˜â€˜big thingsâ€™â€™, as she recently told The Standard.
The friendship and love they shared with the often clean-shaven Linus Kaikai â€“ who later married his work sweetheart â€“ suffocated under the godfather love of William Ruto.
She was thought to have been betrothed to him, but the shadow and sponsor love of Ruto, and some minor confrontations they two men had, exorcised all the love energy from them.
Ruto loved Emmy, one of her group members told me, after the politician fell in love with her music, and her, and gave her a hand to promote her work.
And so Kaikai lost it at the tape. The general had to submit before greater powers.
His heart dried like Olmirisi in Dikir, Transmara, but he still appeared and sounded unfazed on NTV, from SABC, where he was, earlier, when they fell in love.
Her first serious brush with her identity crisis came at this time. The trappings of power and money pulled her and kept her in company â€“ platonic or sexual â€“ of Ruto, in spite of Weekly Citizen selling thousands of copies telling of how they were head over heels in love.
â€˜â€˜Rutoâ€™s wife was devastated at the rumours that her hubby was going out with Emmy, who had just released her second album, Kaswech. Emmy, was still being seen with Ruto in a number occasions, some in public forums in Rift Valley (where she was invited to sing),â€™â€™ a source, friend of Emmy said two weeks ago.
On live TV, Ruto dismissed claims that he was romantically involved with Emmy.
She later told The Star that Rutoâ€™s comments made no difference as there had â€˜â€˜never been anything between us despite the rumoursâ€.
But in her heart of hearts, she was bruised. Hurt. Lost.
â€˜â€˜But it is ok. I will be fine. I somehow expected this,â€™â€™ she lied, when I met her outside her fashion store in Nairobi, while carry a copy of Weekly Citizen that had her on the front page.
She did not expect this. As a naÃ¯ve girl who got involved with a ruthless politician who told Moi to go to hell â€“ politically â€“ she needed a thick skin; a sort of dry hide that could withstand the sharp jibes from critics and jaded lovers.
â€˜â€˜I have gotten to where I am through the grace,â€™â€™ she told me, adding in comments to a friend later that she did not owe her rise to anyone (besides her family).
The young musician had consciously or inadvertently thrust herself into a first major political and social scandal that would define her personality.
â€˜â€˜She had an option of staying away from Ruto, but she did not, much to the agony of Mrs Ruto,â€™â€™ the source added.
But she bounced back furiously, better and unapologetic.
Perhaps she considered the words of Tupac Shakur, in The Rose That Grew from Concrete: â€˜â€˜The seed must grow regardless of the fact that itâ€™s planted in stone.â€
She released Taunel Neleel, largely reflecting her personal tragedies and inner reflections, as Kenya settled down to shaky coalition after 2008 bloodletting.
â€˜â€˜Donâ€™t look back, donâ€™t worry about the past. Donâ€™t lose hope. I will convert your tears into joy. It is a new beginning (start),â€™â€™ she sung.
The country largely felt it was the nationâ€™s reflections after the senseless killing. Everyone needed a new start. But it was her new beginning, really.
And so after a nasty bruise with the press, the young woman, now just above 68kgs, realized it was time to harden her shell.
Some young musicians, who looked up to her, said she changed.
The warmth in her voice though remained, but with some bluntness.
To invite her to a function was too expensive, one said, although that may have been the price of being popular and being sought after.
But then, â€˜â€˜she would confirm appointments but fail to show up,â€™â€™ a musician told me, referring to an album launch.
â€˜â€˜And then fail to communicate at all.â€™â€™
It is possible that this was as a result of personal disorganization or deliberate snub.
â€˜â€˜With Taunet, her focus kind of changed. Her biggest motivation focused of money,â€™â€™ an audio producer told me, reiterating what Christina Shusho bemoaned â€“ generally – after winning Artist of the Year award at the June Groove Awards.
No one knows when a prominent, rich old Nigerian pastor came to her life.
Anyway, he promised her heaven, and a sense of stability that had eluded her since she became of age.
This is the man Emmy will marry in September, after the wedding of her younger sister (to a different man) gets out of the way.
He has bought her a house in Karen, Nairobi, among many other things, including a SUV.
A story is told of a day Emmy lost her expensive Samsung Galaxy series phone in Nairobi as the sun was setting.
A new one was dispatched overnight via DHL from Nigeria, where the pastor is based.
â€˜â€˜I am happy,â€™â€™ she said.
A close contact paraphrased her saying that she loved the man so much because he is elderly and does not read blogs and popular websites.
The man, whom we are not naming on this occasion, had previously married.
I refuse to interrogate further the comments that she is reported to have said that after all the man will be away in Nigeria most of the time, and has led most of his lucid years of his life.
â€˜â€˜It is nothing about love. It is the promise of wealth,â€™â€™ a credible source who was challenged about the claim, bluntly put it.
â€˜â€˜You can take this to the bank, I promise,â€™â€™ he added.
â€˜â€˜God does not condemn prosperity. Fame, fortune and men though have brought down great women of God,â€™â€™ the friend told me last week when I asked if it was about jealousy.
A female singer friend of Emmy told me that she had always warned her about the pitfalls that come with fame and money.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves,â€™â€™ the singer friend told me, quoting Mat 10:16 (NIV), in reference to message she often cautioned Emmy to take to heart.
In many ways, Emmy, a former country girl was enamored by the big city with neon lights and ruthless mortals.
She was thrust too fast into national spotlight before she got the orientation that many of us get.
She successfully managed to conceal her other side â€“ her true personality â€“ for some time.
But as fame and money came along, her dark side bolted away.
In a way, Emmyâ€™s private and unreported life is some sort of personal scandal.
As Kelly Clarkson says, everybodyâ€™s got a dark side. This is Emmyâ€™s.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was first published in August 4 on Jackal News with title “Songbird Emmy Kosgey: Flowering Vanity”, republished here with firm permission..