Bahati is a Kenyan singer who some might say lives up to his name, which means lucky in Kiswahili. But luck has nothing to do with this man’s rise to fame.
He was born in the Nairobi slum of Mathare and lost his mother at the age of six. His father remarried and moved elsewhere leaving Bahati and his brothers to fend for themselves.
“You have two options. You either become a street child or you end up in crime. You have no-one to look up to.”
He tried to survive on the streets collecting scrap metal. “It was so tough for me.”
But then a woman from Iceland came to take photographs of the living conditions in Mathare, and Bahati tried to ask for help in his poor English.
“I remember telling her: ‘I need school, and stomach!’ She took me in and started a children’s home. I was actually one of the first kids she took in.”
At the children’s home he had regular meals and went to school where he started playing guitar and writing music.
He completed his secondary education but then had to leave the children’s home to give someone else his place. On his return to Mathare, he began trying to contact musicians via social media, as he saw music as his only option to progress.
“I wrote DMs to every big super star in Kenya. One thing I believed was that you can make it from anywhere if you push yourself.”
As a result he met music producer RK who worked on his first big hit, Mama, written in appreciation of his mother. “I always wanted her to be proud of me as I fight to make it in life.”
Bahati made his name in Gospel music winning Best Gospel artist at the Afrima Awards. He then decided to change genres to play more contemporary music.
“I’m a risk taker. I believe by taking risks you get to new markets.”
In 2023 he wants to undertake more projects to help the youth through his foundation.
He also wants to conquer the rest of Africa and become one of the biggest Afrobeats artists.
Bahati is married to fellow performer Diana B, and as well as having his own children, he adopted a boy from the same children’s home he grew up in.
“Living with him for eight years, reminds me of my roots and most importantly it keeps me humble”.