Peter Sitao Joshua was a budding musician in Kenya when he opted for ‘greener pastures’ in Qatar back in 2009. However, life in the Arab country proved difficult and Peter resorted to desperate measures in a bid to return back home.
He shared his story with the Nairobian.
How was life in your younger days?
I’m an alumnus of Nyahururu Boys’ High School. I was brought up in a family that was well off. My father was the general manager at Kenya Cinema in the 70s. We never lacked and many times, I would get complimentary tickets for movies. Because my dad was influential, it was not hard for me to get a job in the city.
I once worked at Pangani at a garage as a mechanic, but I later got another job as a driver. The owner of the company wanted me to transport bitumen from Mombasa and because of El-Nino rains, the roads were impassable, so I ended up quitting the job.
I started a snacks shop along Accra Road and that is when I bumped into musicians like Ben Githae and developed a passion for music. I juggled between poultry farming and singing.
You were a big music star in central Kenya in 2000. Then you disappeared only to resurface all messed up. What happened?
In 2009, I left for Qatar after a friend told me that there was an opportunity to travel outside the country and I could easily land a well-paying job. I was excited because it was my first time to fly and I was longing for a new experience in a foreign country. I took my documents to the agent who was organising the employment and I was shortlisted.
How was life in Qatar?
Pathetic! When I got to Qatar, things were not as rosy as I was made to believe. I worked as a truck driver and most of the pay I got was deducted to pay the agent. For two years! I couldn’t even send money home because it wasn’t enough.
Things got worse when the company I was working for closed down and I was on the verge of deportation. But the agent demanded that I remain in the country to work and clear the money I owed him. He got me another job as a taxi driver, but without a regular salary. Things were really tough.
I was fined for failing to report to work. One day, I handed over my resignation letter, but the boss rejected it. I just wanted to come back home. I therefore decided to get myself arrested and thrown to jail. I was confident that if I was arrested, I would be deported.
What did you do next?
Frustration was killing me and I started missing work. I spent most of my time drinking alcohol and being violent. One day, I decided enough was enough and deliberately crashed into cars parked on the side of the road.
I was taken to hospital and later arraigned in court where I was told that I couldn’t leave the country until I paid for the damages that I had caused. They took me to a remand prison where I stayed for a couple of days before I was deported.
Did your family receive you with open arms?
When I landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in August 2010, the first thing I did was to go to a bar in the city. I drank myself into a stupor. I was broke and didn’t want to face my family.
I spent two days in Nairobi and went home around midnight totally drunk and in tattered clothes. When my wife saw me, she couldn’t believe I was the one and she broke down. My kids were also in shock. They expected daddy would be back carrying gifts and goodies. The pride they had for their father disappeared. When my wife discovered that I had used all my savings on alcohol, she walked out. It was heart-breaking.
Did you ever imagine that your life would in such a mess?
Never. I was at my prime and I was ruling the airwaves with my hit song, Ni Rinene. I was also the producer of the popular Kikuyu play, Mwanake Ndurika. The song was widely known and I traversed the country, especially during campaign periods.
I never missed major crusades because I was in the middle of the fandom and feeling comfortable about it. I became bitter and depressed because I had lost everything and my fellow artistes avoided me because I was always bugging them to lend me money.
Are you back on your feet?
Through friends and prayers, I have picked up the pieces. I made a covenant with God that should he give me a second chance, I will never go back to alcohol. If I didn’t board that plane and ditched music, I could be very far now.
What are you currently doing?
I’m mentoring upcoming artistes because I wouldn’t want them to make the mistakes that I made. I am also about to release a new album. I believe that I still have a lot to give to society.