Celebrated Genge rapper Mejja has explained why he calls himself Khadija despite the name being a reserve of the opposite gender.
The Kansoul member who goes by the government name Major Nemeye Khadija adopted his surname from his mother’s second name. He says he uses the name to pay homage to his mum for singlehandedly raising him and his two brothers after their father abandoned them.
“I call myself Khadija because my father was a sperm donor. As a child, I didn’t understand the sacrifices she made for us. Sometimes, I would find her crying in the house and she would act like nothing was wrong.
“When I grew up and had my family, I realized she went through a lot to raise three boys. After coming to Nairobi, people would always comment about the name saying it’s a woman’s so I started insisting mtoto wa Khadija. She’s my inspiration,” the hitmaker said in a recent interview.
Mejja mentioned that the challenges he faced growing up without a father figure influenced his decision to be a part of his children’s lives.
“I have faced so many challenges that in an ideal situation, my father’s advice would have come in handy- but I had to deal with a lot on my own. There are some things you can’t tell your mother as it would give her more stress.
“People don’t realize that I have children- I promised myself to never be away from them. I didn’t want to raise my kids outside the family unit but circumstances forced me to. It doesn’t matter if we are not together with baby mama- the child did nothing wrong,” he said.
The ‘Lewa’ hitmaker also opened up about his upbringing in Nyeri’s Majengo slum.
“In primary school, we had a good life as my grandmother was well off. Soon after she died it was made known to us that my mother was not her biological daughter. So the family was against my mother inheriting any property. To make matters worse, my mother was having constant headaches and we didn’t know she had a tumour as we had no money to visit a specialist,” he narrated.
Mejja also recounted doing odd jobs, some of them illegal, just to make ends meet.
“I did many odd jobs including selling groundnuts. Touched by my plight, an empathetic man gave me a job cleaning his hotel in exchange for lunch. My interest in music started after watching my elder brother rapping. I started imitating his flow and realized that my peers liked it and the girls were smitten. I started writing music- at the time, I had a job selling mogoka at night,” he said.
Mejja disclosed that he got a silver lining when there seemed to be no way out of his plight.
“I had just left the mosque on a Friday after prayers when I met a friend outside the mosque. He told me a Celtel (now Airtel) truck was in town and they were looking for artists. I went, performed and came in second. I then came to Nairobi to perform at Uhuru Gradens and that’s when Clemmo noticed me. He took my number and said he wanted to record the song I had just performed (Jana Kuliendaje). After six months, Clemmo called me and welcomed me to his home. Clemmo is one of the people who connected me to my dreams.”