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GRACE TO GRASS

I watched my father sink into depression, says Bien

He felt angry because his father's friends had abandoned him.

In Summary

• Life changed drastically for Bien's family after his parents lost their jobs

Sauti Sol band member, Bien
Sauti Sol band member, Bien
Image: COURTESY

Sauti Sol band member Bien says he watched his dad sink into depression after he lost his job.

Bien was speaking in a recent episode of 'Engage Talks'.

 
 

He says he was fortunate enough to have everything he ever wished for at his disposal while still young. 

 
 

They lived in the green leafy suburbs of Kilimani and attended one of the most expensive schools in the city.

“My dad in aura was the alpha male both financially and his masculinity," he said.

"His friends were all so loud and they had so many parties, every other weekend it was nyama choma and beer. There were always people coming to our house every other morning for handouts; today was school fees, tomorrow was funerals, my dad was their superhero."

On the other hand, Bien says his mum was the glue that held their family together. 

Together with his sister, they were enrolled in a very competitive boarding school, both in price.

"It was just where the rich people took their kids to school to be programmed to pass national exams,” he said.

 
 

Bien remembers how things drastically changed for his family after his parents lost their jobs.

 
 

Bien's father was a director of projects at a very well-known NGO. His mum was retrenched and just like that, their house had no income, forcing them to drop out of school and relocate to a smaller house, where they survived on a diet of maize and beans (githeri).

Their parents started hunting for jobs with no success.

"We moved to a place called Kamura and I remember when things started going south, my dad had sold his car and we were eating githeri a bit too often," he said, adding that he does not like the meal today.

He went on to explain his parent's financial situation got worse and they were forced to move to the unfinished house their dad had begun building. 

"I’m talking no ceiling, the walls were not painted, the floors were not done and even the basic plumbing was not done either," he said.

"Do you know how it feels to just see your parents give up?

"Things were so bad at the time, I watched my father slip away and give up. My mum held the fort while my dad sat in the verandah, reading his Bible and talking to himself, wallowing away in depression."

Bien felt angry because his father's friends had abandoned him. Relatives whom he helped were nowhere to be seen.

After a year of being out of school, Bien was enrolled to a local school, where he sat his KCPE and was called to join Upper Hill School, where he met his fellow Sauti Sol band members. Music became his escape from whatever life had thrown at his family.

He explained that the rock-bottom experience scarred him for life and greatly influenced how he handles money in his present life. 

"You are never going to hear stories of Bien popping bottles in a club on his tab," he said, adding that he would never let his wife look at him the same way his mother looked at her husband when they fell from grace.

Edited by T Jalio