“Niko na niko na niko na….reason ya kuclap! ” gospel singer Eko Dydda starts as he gets on stage. The crowd is charged as they sway to the Hip Hop beat and sing along to the catchy lyrics.
But as the spotlight is switched off, a different side of Eko Dydda emerges – a side that many fans do not know. This is what he shares in his exclusive interview with Citizen Digital.
“I went to four different schools all through my primary and secondary life. Believe it or not, nursery school I went to a school known as Kobingo primary school in Mathare.”
“From there I joined Riverside primary school where I started from class one to class eight. For high school, I also went to two schools. I started with Eastleigh High School then joined Riverside Girls’ High School.”
How did he, as a boy, study in a girls’ school?
“School fees were a hustle, but luckily I got a teacher from the girl’s school who gave me the opportunity to learn by paying half my fees that is why I ended up there.”
So how did he cope as the only boy in a girls-only school?
“My experience in the girls’ school was quite good; I got to learn a lot. Believe it or not, I was a very shy person before I joined high school. Going to a girls’ school helped me get out of my shell. And just for the record, it was a day school, not a boarding one.”
Like most middle children, Dydda felt invisible growing up: “I was the third born out of four siblings; we are three boys and one girl. I always felt left out, like I never existed.”
“Being the third born, I felt that the first born who is my big brother always got noticed because he is the first born. My sister always got noticed because she was the only girl. Of course, our last born, nobody forgets about the last born.”
Dydda loved playing football as a boy, and he still enjoys the sport as an adult.
“I love playing football to date. A striker is a position that I enjoy playing. However, I can also play as a midfielder but not a goalkeeper. Goalkeepers are usually acrobatic people they tend to jump and dive a lot and I am not cut for that.”
So, what team does he support locally?
“I am and will always be a Gor fan, that’s my team for both local football and international. Gor ni wasee wa noma sana kwanza their name should be changed from Gor to goal wamescore a lot of goals manzee.I always like their unity and that is something that is very important in life.”
Dydda’s love for football and the struggles he faced as an underground player drove him to start Ghetto Championship – a football project that is aimed at keeping disadvantaged youth from societal vices.
“I used to be a footballer but I had so much stress. A person can be really good at football but one has to struggle especially if you do not have much. If one does not make it to the big leagues, they easily fall back to crime or drugs. Others quit the sport completely. It is out of this that I came up with this project.”
So how does the tournament work?
“I usually arrange for tournament whereby 32 slums usually participate. Every slum has its own team and they get to compete with different teams from different slums. The tournament has always been once a year but this season we want to do it twice. The project has really been a success because last year a team was able to go to Sweden to compete with other teams in the world and they emerged the second position after losing only one match.”
While others like Gloria Muliro’s ex-husband Eric Omba are quick to criticize the gospel industry for ‘commercialisation’, Dydda chooses to hold his tongue.
“I cannot judge someone. Mine is to just congratulate those who are succeeding in the industry because you never know what they are going through.”
Not much has been heard from him in the recent past. Should fans expect something new?
“I was able to release a song on 1st of January called Haina Budi and the second song is still very fresh just released it few days ago called Yesu ndiyo kusema.”
About his relationship status, Dydda said: “I am happily married and blessed with two children who I love so much.”
While many men were pulling out all stops on the 14th of February, Dydda was not following suit because he believes love is an everyday thing.
“The love that I have for my wife and my two children is 24/7. The only thing that is changed on that day is the fact that it has been marked as valentine. I can plan for that day but already the things that I will have planned for valentine I am already doing them daily.”
Unlike most Kenyans who name their children after their parents or relatives, Dydda decided to give his children sentences for names.
“If I get my own children I am supposed to name them the way I want. Naming our children after grandparents is to some extent tribal. I gave my children sentenced names specifically to go against the tribal aspect.”
So what did he name his kids?
“I am happy that I call my children ‘Keep it Real’ and ‘I am Blessed’ when they say their names, they believe in them and that is what that counts.”
As we wind up the interview, Dydda is a happy man. Having recently survived a terrible crash, he is more than motivated to live for God.
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