Dar es Salaam. Early in 2011 Bongo Flava was introduced to a new voice, one that threatened to shatter the hegemony that was once a preserve of some few female artistes.
This was the beginning of the rise to prominence of Winifrida Josephat aka Recho.
With the release of her debut hit single ‘Kizunguzungu’ the revelry that was growing thirsty for something new immediately labeled her the new Ray C, a comparison that she took postively.
She had been unleashed from the Tanzania House of Talent, the birth place of artistes such as Barnaba, Amini, Linah , Mwasiti, Ben Pol , Marlaw, Ditto, and many others.
She was ripe and ready to upset the established order which included some of her classmates at that time.
Her vocal range, stage presence, and perhaps even her close resemblance with Ray C offered credibility to the assertion that a new Bongo Flava Princess had been born.
That year she went on to feature in a countrywide tour of the Serengeti Fiesta country-wide extravaganza that featured the performance of US rapper Ludacris at the final in Dar es Salaam.
At around the same time the woman she was closely compared to was in shrouded in drug abuse mystery and was only a shadow the force she once was.
The events that followed including her later releases such as ‘Upepo’ and ‘Nashukuru Umerudi’ were all good news to her fans.
The cameo performance in 2013 with Ray C was even further confirmation that she had matured into the artiste that she was expected to blossom into.
But that was probably just that, a cameo of cameos!
Two years on, the script reads like something a bit familiar with most female artistes, they just don’t stick in the game long enough!
Recho has a fallen down the pecking order from Bongo Flava’s Princess who attracted all sorts of attention to a struggling artiste in melancholy.
Return from Muscat.
Two weeks ago she announced her return after a long self imposed exile that put her out of the limelight for quite a while and as she later confirmed she was in Muscat.
Her travel to the Middle East was another mysterious story that attracted plenty of gossip providing fodder to the tabloid outlets and the social media.
From her diary of confessions, Recho has been through a lot in the past two years and she could have followed in the footsteps of the person she modeled her career around.
Apparently her visit to Dubai wasn’t work related, it was purely out of pleasure, unfortunately she overstayed her invitation something that landed her into hot waters with authorities there.
“I went to Muscat with my boyfriend I over stayed and I got into trouble with the police,” she told Millard Ayo.
In doing this she took a gamble with her career, one that she is likely to regret in the future.
She admits that in the past she had been wayward and that at some point she even smoked marijuana to get some comfort given the way things were punning out. She says she is a whole new person right now and that she has accepted Christ as ‘her personal savior’ after she got tired of some of the worldly ways and desires.
How she got into this booby trap given the kind of management she had at THT is something that has left many puzzled.
The management at THT denies having any knowledge of her travel itinerary saying she had organized her travel personally and they only came to learn of her whereabouts when things got out of hand.
“When this story broke out, many people called us asking what happened unfortunately we were just in the dark as anyone else,” says Ruge Mutahaba the founder of THT.
He compares the outlet to any other institution that admits students and says it is not wrong for the artistes to continue calling THT as their home even after they have graduated but it should be for the right reasons.
“This place is just like any other college where students enroll, study and graduate. After that they go on to handle their business on a personal basis,” says Ruge.
He says they believe that the time the trainee spends with them is supposed to nurture them into professional artistes who can stand on their own.
The realities of the industry
As Recho announced her return she looked weary, her cries of back stabbers and how cruel the industry was is only a sign that the recent events had taken a serious toll on her. She promises to release a new song a soon as possible and in her words it is going to be a song that her ‘supposedly’ huge following can relate with.
It is not clear under which management she is currently on but it is obvious that those leading her are oblivious of the realities of today’s Bongo Flava music. One year of inactivity and lack of credible visibility could be enough to rush your career to grave yard.
This is a fast moving industry that barely waits for anyone, in her absence plenty of new talent has emerged and it will only be fair to say that her patch has been taken.
During that time starlet Ruby got the country singing with her debut single Na Yule, Nikuvumilie ft Baraka Da Prince and her latest offering, ‘Forever’ are some of the titles to beat on every playlist.
The way we consume music today has changed and as diverse as probably as the consumers themselves, therefore it is not going to be business as usual. Getting her crown back will take some artistic and managerial sacrifices.