Nandy: on life post-tragedy

Friday May 17 2019


By Paul Owere and Jonathan Musa

2019 has not been an easy year for Tanzania’s singing sensation Nandy. The Hazipo singer started off the year by losing one of the most important men in her life – the late Ruge Mutahba.

Though the two were initially known to have a purely professional relationship, soon after Ruge’s death in February this year it came to light that they shared more than just work affairs.

The speculations started off on the low, but quickly spread like wildfire and soon enough everyone had a thing or two to say about the rumoured love affair.

Nandy, while grieving at that time, distanced herself from online chitchats about her supposed involvement with her late boss. “I stayed away from social media and I remember when I was first asked whether there was anything between us [her and Ruge], I said there was absolutely nothing but Ruge was just my boss,” she explains.

During Ruge’s funeral, Nandy was treated as part of the family, and even though it had become more evident that the two shared more than what people saw on the surface, Nandy herself had yet to admit to the speculations.

But all that changed this week after the RnB singer, while being interviewed on radio, admitted to have been Ruge’s lover. Actually the two were engaged to be married in March 2019.


Nandy and Ruge had long-term family plans. They wanted to have twins, and on the business side they’d started a couple of projects together.

Over the years Nandy came to love and trust Ruge. “He professed his love for me, and I didn’t give him an immediate response. I needed to ponder on the matter first before deciding to commit,” she said while being interviewed on Amplifaya radio programme.

Even though it took her time to accept Ruge’s interest in her, when she did, she was certain he was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

“I knew about his rumoured past and the women he’s been with before. But I trusted him,” she said.

Nandy’s relationship with Ruge was known by those who were close to the couple. The likes of Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and Environment January Makamba, upon Ruge’s death, spoke highly of him and his love interest before his demise.

“We had plans, which we hoped to finalise in the coming month,” January said while speaking during Ruge’s funeral, referring to the wedding plans that were underway between Nandy and Ruge.

More than a mentor

The story of Nandy’s meteoric rise cannot be complete without mentioning the input of the late Ruge, the man who discovered her talent and took her under his wings at the Tanzania House of Talent (THT) in Dar es Salaam.

While at THT she met producer Ema The Boy who produced her debut single ‘Nagusagusa’ which became an instant hit receiving huge airplay on both radio and TV.

Under the tutelage of Ruge Mutahaba aka Boss Ruge she grew to become a mainstay in the industry.

Bongo Flava for so many years has been in short supply of female artistes, those who make it barely survive long enough in the highly competitive local market which has in the long run become a graveyard for the wannabe musicians.

Three years ago a new kid Nandy (Faustina Mfinanga) broke on the scene with a resolve to change the status quo, she had just finished as runner- up at the Tecno Take the Stage contest in Lagos where she was mentored by rapper Ambwene Yessaya aka AY.

To her doubters she was just ‘one of those little girls’ trying to look for fame in music and not otherwise and three years later she has become one of the most sought after female artistes in Tanzania.

She had to prove the doomsayers wrong and fast enough. “When I heard that the Tigo Fiesta was about to start and my name was not on the list I approached the festival’s management to allow me to curtain raise for the main act at the Mwanza show,” says Nandy, while speaking of a previous Fiesta music festival which marked her debut on a local stage in front of thousands of fans.

She paid for her air ticket with her mother’s help plus her own savings to buy costumes for the show.

And for sure after her very first performance the festival organisers gave her a nod and she went on to perform in the remaining 14 venues across the country putting her on the same stage with stars such as Yemi Alade and Tekno from Nigeria.

She has never looked back with a string of hits such as ‘One Day’, ‘Ninogeshe’, ‘Wasikudanganye’, ‘Kivuruge’ ,’ Nikumbushe’, ‘Hazipo’ and others that have left a mark on the industry.

Nandy has since self-proclaimed herself as the African Princess, who has taken over the Bongo Flava music scene with hearty compositions that have got the whole region singing.

She is not afraid to rock the established order after she once claimed to be the best selling female artiste in Tanzania surpassing the likes of Vanessa Mdee and Lady Jaydee.

“My numbers speak for themselves, and as you know numbers don’t lie and that makes me number one in Tanzania,” says the 26-year-old

Over the years, Nandy has had to overcome some hurdles, which are not alien to local celebrities.

One of such challenges was when back in April 2018 a certain naughty-nude-video with rapper Bill Nas leaked on the social media, it was one that almost brought down the internet as it became one of the most shared among WhatsApp groups and Instagram.

Nandy dealt with the issue expeditiously and now it is just a distant memory.

Nandy now has a whole life ahead of her. She says Ruge instilled in her a business acumen which she intends on fully exploring.