I kind of know where he is. Like many after him, it seems he doesn't know how his small push contributed in a big way to me being who I am today. Last I checked he was in the taxi business, before all these online platforms sprung up.
It was my daily ritual at midday, after my morning shift at my moms chapo dondo kiosk, my slippers clean, smelling fresh. His name was Ondi, hustler for real. Back then he had a simu ya jamii with a butchery on the side, taxi at night and several other small businesses.
I mention him because what he did set out my path to be Juliani.
Before partnering with Google, World Bank, Safaricom and all these big companies, before the travel, waaay before a single, wacha four albums, I wasn’t Juliani. I was yule jamaa wa ma yoyo. At my mum’s kiosk, we made samosa, chapati and madondo to fend for the family. My dad was into civic engineering (we are Luos, we don't say kuendesha tinga tinga).
My days were simple, wake up at 5am, open up my mum's kiosk. Go to Njuguna and supply mayai, made 5bob per tray. After that I had time to hang out with jeshi ya mtaani, before taking the evening shift at my moms Kiosk until late.
Onditi- a kisii guy, hard working, community leader and a funny dude. He would make me freestyle as I dissed each and every person at our base, for a bottle of soda. It was mchongowano, but with rhymes and flow, off the top of my head.
The soda was great but in time I noticed that my skill level as a rapper improved. I had a small fan base and validation amongst my peers as an aspiring rapper. This was immediately after high school and Onditi would say to guys, "huyu ni celeb wetu".
Years later, I became Juliani. A rapper from Dandora turned artist: awards, albums, global tours, meeting great people and making unimaginable friends along the road.
So, how do I thank Ondi and other people who like him whose small gestures led to who I am today? How do I thank you? For being with me, helping me grow by purchasing my music, merchandise and validating my voice as a young leader.
The best I can do is give back what you gave me. You gave me Juliani.
Ondi is as Juliani as I am. Yes, I worked hard, trusted God but sometimes it took that one like, one album, one selfie, one product that you bought to show me that I was on the right track, against all odds.
You gave me Juliani and I am giving it back.
The access that being Juliani has given me, I’m sharing with you.
The opportunities being Juliani has presented to me, are available to you.
Through our Juliani Community, I hope I will be able to demonstrate how special you are to me.