Legendary “Zilizopendwa” singer Shari Martin known for “Rafiki Pesa” fame has exclusively revealed to Citizen Digital he enjoyed cordial relationship with retired president Daniel Arap Moi.
Recounting his life at Tarasa High School in Tana River County, Mr. Martin said the former head of state used to communicate directly with him through his personal cell phone – no intermediaries such as the school’s headmaster, Provincial Commissioner or any other state official were involved.
Moi developed a soft spot for the then 16-year-old Martin after he graced an event in Garissa, and the young man was called to perform for him.
Impressed by his adeptness and musical creativity, the president offered to sponsor his entire secondary school education.
“Moi had visited North Eastern Province to preside over the official opening of Garissa Show. I was called to entertain him; I remember singing until attendees of the event gave me a standing ovation. I got Ksh300, 000 that day.”
Ironically, the president slept for a better part of Martin’s performance; and was only ambushed by the Master of Ceremony when he was asked to announce his financial contribution towards the event.
When he stood up, he said: “That young boy (Shari) has won my heart; he sits and dines with top government officials. He also advises me on particular issues. He is very intelligent; he is very visionary. God is good.”
The president still did not address what he was called to proclaim, and when he was just about to take his seat, he was again asked by the MC to announce his contribution.
He took to the podium and stated: “I command the PC and the Headmaster to allow that boy to study throughout his education on my account.”
It is this meeting with Moi which made Shari to swiftly get into the president’s elite circle, and even got the leader’s personal phone number which he used to communicate with him (Moi) quite often.
“Each time President Moi ringed me, he did not ask to speak with the headmaster or the Provincial Commissioner.”
“I remember there’s a time he asked if we’d received a generator, school bus or if the eight streams of classrooms he’d funded were built. My answer was ‘no’ to all questions; I tell you people were sacked!”
“In yet another memory still fresh in my mind, I recall him ringing and asking me to prepare the choir as the following day we’d visit the State House to entertain him and his guests.”
It is this V.I.P relationship with the president which made Mr. Martin earn the moniker ‘ambassador’ from his peers.
“They (peers) used to call me ‘ambassador’. I can tell you I was only 16 but very powerful. I remember being accorded a special diet at the school canteen – two sodas and four chapatis every day. Mark you, my food came from the matron. I was a bully.”
His arrogance prompted his colleagues and teachers to lay a trap which landed him expulsion from the institution.
“One day I wasn’t feeling very well; so, I went to the dormitory to sleep. After leaving the premises, some boys came and stole some mattresses. They went and ‘reported’ to the deputy headmaster that I was responsible for the theft.”
“I knew it was a plan by the teachers, deputy headmaster and students to have me suspended. They wanted to finish me.”
Expectedly, he was expelled – however, at the wrong time.
“They expelled me from school; fortunately, the next week we were supposed to go to State House. The headmaster asked for me.”
“When the deputy head teacher told him I was expelled for stealing mattresses, you know what he told him – ‘you are stupid, that young man doesn’t even have a heart to steal.”
The headmaster would the following day drive to Shari’s home and upon picking him and driving back to school; he humiliated the deputy headmaster in his presence.
“I am telling you I have never seen a teacher being slapped; he was later suspended.”
Shari Martin has been in the music industry for decades. He shot to fame in 1998 when he released his popular Rafiki Pesa hit.
He married his wife in 1993 and are blessed with five children.