I see our late grandfather’s traits in my baby sister
Budding artiste Grace Msafari is the grandchild of Kenya’s legend maestro, the late Habel Kifoto, founder of Maroon Commandos military band. Her sister, Lorraine Msafari connects the passion in her to that of the renowned musician
Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine
With only two songs and three covers, Grace Msafari, popularly known as Sai Kenya has gained tens of thousands of YouTube subscribers.
As much as she has solely found her feet in the music career, Grace is the grandchild of Kenya’s legend maestro, Habel Kifoto, founder of Maroon Commandos military band.
Abel founded the band in 1970 and led it for 32 years before he died on July 31, 2011, in Nairobi after he collapsed due to a suspected heart failure. He was also the chairman of Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) from 2009 to 2011.
The 19-years-old artiste came into the limelight this year when she released three covers of Tanzanian stars; Mario’s Raha, Harmonise’s Mama and Zuchu’s hit Kwaru, which were well accepted by both the artistes and their fans. Then, while the pandemic ravaged the industry, she released her two singles, Pambana and Unaboa, and with these she took the airwaves by storm.
Grace is the third born of three siblings including Lorraine Msafari (first born) and Zaria Msafari (last born).
Their father, Musa Msafari Ndaiya, owns a lifts installation company in Mombasa, a business, which he started after being retrenched from Telkom, while their mum is a public health officer at the Coast General Hospital.
She attended Citadel Primary School, Mombasa where she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education in 2014 and later joined Eureka Girls High school,Kilifi where she did her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in 2018. As her elder sister Lorraine shares, it is their mother Lydia Sowa, who first discovered her talent.
“Growing up, you would almost all the time find Grace singing in the house. My mum would encourage her to sing more and more. Our parents have always been supportive of her and her journey. They are her number one cheerleaders,” shares Lorraine.
Lorraine says her sister has grown to become her own inspiration. That even with these changing times when many young girls are easily influenced by their peers into different and controversial lifestyles, her sister has been able to find her thing, do it with so much love and passion and thrive at it.
Going fully into her musical career has kept her busy while still waiting to join a university of her choice.
Music has provided Grace with a platform where she can earn and grow. Her voice, she says, has always been her strength and it is taking her places.
“She has an amazing voice. Every time you hear her sing songs by other artistes, she does it in her own version and making an artistic piece pleasant to the ear.
I love Pambana. She wrote and released it in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic and I’m sure it gave people hope and confidence to push through hard times.
I also love her cover song Raha by Mario. It’s a good thing to do something that you are passionate about.
Also, seeing how widely her music has been positively received with the music industry both in Kenya and in Tanzania, and receiving thumbs up from some of the most talented artistes within the sector is encouraging.
And I believe that this is just the beginning of even greater things to come for her,” says Lorraine.
While Grace intimates that she is her own inspiration and her craft is inspired by her own life experiences since childhood, the journey has not been easy and every time she fell to the ground, she gave herself the hope to keep going on without help. She has found her role model in her music producer, Shirko.
“My producer, Shirko, is my role model. He has the push and strength. He barely sleeps. He makes music every day.
He has passed through a lot, but still keeps pushing. I can never stop thanking God for him,” shares the singer.
As much as Grace might have not gotten the opportunity to know her grandfather enough to experience his influential musical journey, her sister is able to connect the fire in her to their grandfather’s. To Lorraine, the music is deep inside Grace’s blood.
“Things have been tough, a lot has been happening that’s been pulling her behind at times when it comes to music.
Just like everyone else, there are dark days and sunny days, but with her love and passion for music she keeps on pushing. Music runs in her blood.
I see both our late grandfather, Habel Kifoto and our Aunt Carlo Ndaiya, who is part of the Kenya Port Authorities choir in Mombasa, in Grace,” says the musician’s sister.