Meet Alicios Theluji - East Africa's singing sensation
A new singing sensation is born and her name is Alicios Theluji. Just In case you haven’t heard about her, or you don’t own her new hit song “mpita njia” featuring Juliana Kanyomozi already; its our pleasure to introduce you to her.
Born Alice Zeluji (Zeluji is the same as Theluji; except that Zeluji is with a Congolese Swahili accent) in the Democratic republic of Congo, Kivu Province, Alicios has quickly claimed the respect of her peers, fans, music executives, industry producers with her first signle. It is safe to say that she’s now the really deal in East, Central Africa. In fact, a friend of ours at MTV Base recently mentioned how 'they cant wait for her whole album to be released'.
Blessed with a unique voice, she’s also a beautiful and confident young woman filled with both resolve and humility. Even more impressive, when you get a chance to converse with her, you instantly realise she’s armed with brains way beyond her youthful years. Moreover, the fact that she can also sing in four different languages (English, Swahili, Lingala, French) broadens her reach and gives her a distinctive ability to reach out to different people.
Having moved to Nairobi as a refugee at a young age and now primarily based in Sweden, Alicios worldview is very mature and impressive; even better, she’s determined to put in all the work necessary to succeed on her own terms unlike most up and coming artists today. Alicios, wont compromise her most basic principles to get where she wants to be! Acquainted both politically and socially with issues facing Africa and Africans today, TAP magazine recently met up with Alicios and the following is a small transcript of our discussion. Hope you enjoy it and remember, this won’t be the last time you hear from her.
Who is Alicios Theluji?
Alicios Theluji: Alicios is a very humble and a down to earth person. She is a girl with so much to say and last but not least, an east and central Africa's new sensation.
TAPmag: Who inspires Alicios the most in this world!
Alicios Theluji: My mother, Jacky! She has been both my mother and my father and at the same time just like most African mothers, she is 2 mothers and a half.
TAPmag: What’s your relationship with Congo, Kenya and Sweden?
Alicios Theluji: I would say Congo is my biological mother, Kenya is like my adoptive mother and Sweden is this third woman who assists my two mothers on raising me. I love all three... and as you can see, I know the way home!!!
TAPmag: Was Alicios a naughty/shy girl in school? did you have a nickname?
Alicios Theluji: Very shy...the nickname was ''batoto''... you can guess how it started.
TAPmag: Most people who know you did not know that you’re a talented musician until 'mpita njia" come out! why is that?
Alicios Theluji: First of all, I’m very shy, or should I say was. I had to work on that first for me to be able to take my music to the next level. Previously, I wasn’t comfortable shooting my music videos or even recording my songs when people (artist) kept on going in and out of the studio while I was recording. Also, back then, the music industry at home wasn’t really something a parent wished their daughter to end up in. In short, I loved singing but hated the industry hence people didn’t get to know I can sing. Lastly, I was VERY good at school... thus all my uncles and other family members were expecting/pushing for me to end up in a different “professional” path and that made me fight and push back my love for music for a very long time until I ''surrendered''. Actually, I might call this first album ''surrender'' as its really the only word that can explain what happened!
TAPmag: What was the inspiration behind "Mpita Njia?
Alicios Theluji: Mpita njia is a true story. Except that in real life, I played the role that Juliana sings. But hey, the ''mpita njia'' never fooled me. At first I was stubborn but at the back of my mind I knew my friend could have been right, so I watched this guy very carefully and as soon as he started showing me those ''mpita njia'' signs I made him step outside my life.He had truly been a ''mpita njia'' in the past and since she had been ''jealous'' things got a bit dramatic and the words ''pili pili usio ila ya ku washia nini'' did come out of my mouth. I guess everyone is ''mpita njia'', until they find ''the one''.
TAPmag: We hear you have collaborated with Nasty Thomas and Collo from Kenya. Can we have the pleasure of exposing the name of that track! Any more collabos on the cards?
Alicios Theluji: Thomas and I have known each other since I was 15. We were never friends but his mother was my Godmother yaani ''mama wa ubatizo'' so we came in contact pretty often. so when I finished recording my album with R-Kay, he suggested that we could work on a song together, so we sat down and wrote one. Next thing I know we were heading to Kiambu for recording... and now even the video has been shot.... I cant tell u more about that though, let’s focus on ''mpita njia'' for now.
Collo, is just Collo...mistari, na flaw... I like him, he is very "Nairobish", I like artists that sound like where they come from. I had a song that I had recorded (about 4 years ago) with R-Kay but never released it since I was in school and didnt want to mix the two. So while we were recording the album I thought why not re-do the song with a rapper or just do a remix and then probably shoot a video for it in the future and have it in the album as well. Then Collo came in... and let me tell you, he did it just the way I thought he would. I'm thankful...
TAPmag: What 3 issues do you think affect the African youth the most today?
- Lack of confidence:
- The majority of African youths believe that there are other races that are superior than them when it comes to intelligence. History has somehow proven that right; at least the history thats being put on our faces. Its up to parents and teachers to help these children improve their self esteem because it will allow them to dare, dream bigger and to believe in their ideas. Everything starts with an idea and you only get to make something big out of your ideas when you have confidence in yourself. Its very important for the youths to be told our history from the African perspective. We need to tell them about our heroes; that will only strengthen them. And as Whitney Houston once sang '' give them a sense of pride, to make it easier....''
- Lack of freedom of speech:
- As a young person or mostly a woman, your voice is not really attended to. When interacting with adults, sometimes even appearing smarter than them is seen as a sign of disrespect. In African families, Dad is always right! Even if you have a better idea than him, you will still have ti keep it to yourself because he is supposed to always look smarter than you. So we are not really encouraged to be free thinkers and to express ourselves from an early age. A brain is like a muscle, if you dont engage it, it gets lazy and eventually dies. I also think our governments can really use the youths creative minds to the benefit of everyone. Young people are very creative, if nurtured and used properly, I really believe they can produce more than we think.
- Lack of opportunities/jobs:
- Just the thought of you not being able to get a decent job after you've finished university alone takes away your motivation and will to study and go through school.
TAPmag: If you had to change something about Africa, what would it be?
Alicios Theluji: It would definitely have to be Tribes and tribalism...they draw lines among us and i feel like they have more disadvantages than advantages. We need to understand that ''we can'', TOGETHER! I really want to see Africa united. Our own tribes have been used as a wepon to destroy us throughout the history. We've come a long way, but we still have so much to do. And I believe that we'll get there! If we UNITE!!!
Interview by Moses Mutabaruka.