From family entertainer to a renowned artiste
Growing up, Dennis Omare, recalls how his elder brother, Naftal Omari Migisi, popularly known as Miggy Champ acted as deputy parent ensuring that his siblings behaved well and completed their house chores before going out to play.
Naftal, who is the firstborn in the family loved music, dancing and playing rugby. Though not sure when his brother’s passion for music began, Dennis does remember him getting invitations to sing, especially during Christmas.
“When he was around 10 years, various families would invite him to their homes to entertain their visitors and we would laugh at him. At times, I used to drum a jerrican for him as he sang,” narrates Dennis.
The brothers attended same secondary school; Cardinal Otunga High School in Kisii and though Naftal was three years his senior, Dennis recalls how his brother’s involvement in music and drama resulted in everyone expecting such high standards of him. “This felt great, especially because I wasn’t bullied since my brother was a famous student. However, by virtue of my brother being active in music, everyone expected me to sing, act, and be a member of Journalism and Young Men Christian Association. I decided to join Journalism and Young Christian Association club. As for my brother, he continued siging and dancing even in church. He was also an altar boy and even desired to be a priest, but music won his heart,” continues his brother.
When Naftal completed secondary education, his passion for music grew even more and he went ahead to record songs such as Adamare, and Virusi, together with his friends while studying a diploma in Information Technology at Kenya College of Accountancy in Kisumu.
However, his late father was against his son’s love for music. “My father was tough on him. I sometimes would be beaten because of supporting him. My father wanted Naftal to study first because he never believed that music would sustain him,” says Dennis.
The fights with his father usually intensified when Naftal would go and perform at events that would run till late at night. He would also record himself using his father’s radio cassette and that would upset their father. “When my brother attended music competitions, he most of the time emerged position one. He would come home with awards and gifts such as a TV and even cash awards. But my father would still be angry about it. One time, he broke a 14 inch colour TV that he won back then,” recalls Dennis.
But his mother always believed in him and would defend him at times. “I remember my mother being conned money by someone who promised her that he would take me to the US to perform. But I’m glad that through my efforts and handwork, I can now go to America to perform without much effort. It all happened in God’s time,” Naftal says.
He released his first song in 2006. The music featured one of his mentors, the late MC Brayo who he credits to have given him the courage to perform before a crowd.
Dennis is amazed at how his brother has grown in his music career. “I remember his two songs Shake and Ayoo. He would start his shows with these songs as they were the top songs on radio back then. They were also my favourite,” he recalls
Sadly, they lost their father on June 11, 2013. Naftal is comforted by the fact that his father died having been converted to become one of his biggest supporter and fan. “After hearing my songs on radio and reading about me on newspapers, he decided to let go of his bias. Just like that he became my top fan. It’s so unfortunate he never lived to see me do big projects such as performing before president Uhuru Kenyatta, doing Television Commercials (TVCs), having my images on billboards, doing international shows and the many more upcoming big projects,” says the musician.
For his brother Dennis, the loss of his father was a tough season financially, since he was the bread winner. “We were dependent on him, but with the support of Naftal, we managed to pull through since he also stepped in to pay my school fees too,” says Dennis.
Naftal, has now grown to be a renowned artist performing during important events such as 2020’s Mashujaa Day. He has also performed internationally in Dubai, the US, among other countries.
“My first international show was in 2017 in United Arab Emirates where I had an amazing reception. In the same year, I travelled to the US and had shows in eight states including Texas, Minnesota, New Jersey and Indiana,” says says Naftal.
On the other hand, Dennis took the medical path thanks to support and encouragement from his brother. However, he too has artistic passion that he would pursue in future.
“I played rugby for Muranga and Kisii Rugby Footbal Club and pursued acting for a while. However, I’m overwhelmed by work, but I once in a while, I play supportive roles. Maybe in future I will focus on it more,” he says.
For now Naftal wants to pursue politics and seeks to run for an Member of County Assembly for Magenche ward, Kisii. “I believe we are alive for a season and a reason. Touching lives should be our mission. That is why I want to pursue elective post to serve my people,” says Naftal.
Dennis is happy about his brother’s decision to run for a political office and is confident that he will deliver.
“I feel good seeing him go for what he loves and I know he is a performer. He will definitely deliver,” says Dennis.
Naftal adds that he is not quitting music, but being in politics will enable him to inspire the next generation of musicians serve the country in other ways.
“Music is a God-given talent and if I don’t use it, God will punish me. I use music to educate, enlighten, inform and entertain the community. However, I’m going to support more people and touch many lives than before if I get an elective position,” he says.
When it comes to music, Naftal is glad that Kenyans have now began appreciating local artistes though much more needs to be done. He encourages upcoming artistes to come up with a unique sound that can be pushed internationally.