Oliver Mwanko, is a Kenyan Gospel Musician with Congolese origins. He was born in Kakamega, spent part of his upbringing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and then pursued his studies in South Africa before returning to Kenya.
What is your education background?
I hold a Bachelor's degree in Civil Aviation, but my true passion lies in Music. As an Artist, many prefer to call me Mwanko. Mwanko is an acclaimed Gospel Minister, my mission is to lead individuals towards the divine realm through the power of Praise and Worship. Beyond music, I also engage in public relations and communications, philanthropy, voice coaching, and evangelism. The teachings of Jesus Christ are central to my songs, words, and teachings.
What was your inspiration to do music?
Reflecting on My Musical Voyage: The symphony of my music began resonating around the age of five when I discovered my innate ability to follow tunes and evoke emotions through drumming and guitar strumming.
Songwriting also revealed itself as a talent, facilitating recognition and connections with esteemed Gospel artists across Africa and beyond.
As I neared the completion of my high school education, a pivotal moment emerged. Four of my cousins and I united to form a group that quickly garnered attention from different churches. Invitations to minister soon followed. During this period, my primary role encompassed drumming, while I occasionally stepped in with vocals.
2014 marked a turning point. As I resided in Kawangware, my guitar caught the eye of Erick Smith, a professional Gospel Artist hailing from Kenya.
He embraced me and provided invaluable mentorship. This association led to my participation in his highly successful debut album, "Wewe ni zaidi." It was through this album that I caught the attention of music enthusiasts, with standout tracks like "Patakatifu," "Siya Kawaida," "Namba moja," and more.
Basking in this newfound prominence, our journey culminated in a triumphant moment – winning the 2017 Groove Award for the song "Patakatifu pako" in the category of Best Worship Song of the Year. This achievement heightened my visibility within the industry, propelling me to collaborate on various music projects alongside esteemed artists like Israel Ezekiel, Mercy Masika, Jimmy D Psalmist, and Nathaniel Bassey, among others.
Subsequently, I embarked on a personal evolution. Fueled by a burgeoning passion for Public Relations, I pursued further education. This educational pursuit not only broadened my horizons but also equipped me with the skills needed to navigate the corporate landscape. I continue to apply these skills in my professional journey, contributing to the corporate world up to the present day.
What Ignites your Inspiration?
My music is inspired by my personal journey with God, my interactions with people, and my encounters with the Holy Spirit. Visions, melodies, and tunes revealed through dreams or meditations shape my songs, teachings, and writings. The Bible is a profound source of inspiration; my songs often originate from reflections during Bible reading, meditation, and prayer.
Another wellspring of inspiration springs forth from the sacred pages of the Bible. In the moments of reading, meditation, and prayer, my creative spirit is stirred. The ancient verses, laden with wisdom, truths, and revelations, intertwine with the rhythms of my heart, guiding me to express my devotion, my reflections, and my messages through the verses and melodies of my music.
In essence, the symphony of my inspiration is a harmonious blend of divine connection, the human experience, spiritual visions, and the timeless teachings of the sacred text.
Which was your first song?
My initial venture into song creation culminated in "Tembea Nami." This inaugural recorded piece materialised thanks to a benevolent friend, Dudu B, who was living in Kitengela at the time. With access to his recording studio, he extended me the opportunity to breathe life into my music. Studio time was graciously granted, and it was during these sessions that "Tembea Nami" was conceived.
Nonetheless, the journey was not without its challenges. I grappled with financial constraints, which cast a shadow over my ability to launch the song with the grandeur it deserved. Regrettably, I found myself unable to propel it through proper avenues of music distribution.
The experience of crafting "Tembea Nami" was a magnificent one. This composition was more than just a song; it was a heartfelt prayer, a plea for divine companionship as I embarked on my musical voyage. Every chord, every lyric, resonated with the sincerity of my longing for divine guidance. The creative process was a blend of dedication, devotion, and creative expression, forming a melodic tapestry of my aspirations.
In retrospect, "Tembea Nami" holds not only the essence of a song but also the essence of my journey both as a musician and as a seeker of divine alignment.
What type of music do you do?
Regarding the nature of my music, it's an excellent question to ponder.
As a songwriter, I possess the flexibility to address a wide spectrum of topics that encompass not only the global landscape but also hold special relevance within the body of Christ. My compositions traverse diverse themes, ranging from salvation and repentance to worship, praise, and even more intricate matters like jealousy. Despite this versatility, my deepest sense of fulfilment emanates from the moments when I pour my heart into songs that exalt God's boundless love and unwavering goodness. This conviction arises from the profound understanding that God's love is all-encompassing, embracing and forgiving all transgressions and iniquities.
An exciting milestone on my journey is the impending release of my first EP, slated for August 25th, 2023. Titled "Mwanko Cares Sessions," this collection serves as a precursor to my forthcoming album and provides a vivid glimpse into the essence of my music. The EP embodies a fusion of music and insightful interviews, thoughtfully divided into five distinct episodes: "The Calling," "Upendo Wako," "Ushuhuda," "Day by Day," and "Hakuna Pumziko."
These compositions primarily revolve around themes of God's boundless love, the profound purpose of praise, and an earnest call to salvation. Simultaneously, they sound a clarion warning to the body of Christ, urging vigilance in the face of the devil's relentless efforts to distance us from our spiritual path. The deceptive tactics of the adversary, including jealousy and other pitfalls, serve as poignant reminders of the need to stand firm in our faith.
My music is an embodiment of my personality, represented by an eclectic blend of sounds ranging from Afro and R&B to Bongo, Soul, and Blues. My vision is unequivocal: to propel East and Central African Gospel Music to heights beyond our current reach. As we've already made significant strides, I am determined to leave an indelible mark on a generation and impact as many lives as possible, all by the grace of God.
What’s your greatest Achievement through Music so far?
My most remarkable accomplishment in music is the privilege of travelling to more than 17 countries worldwide, all thanks to the gift of music. This journey has also afforded me the grace to minister before esteemed figures, including Country ambassadors, presidents, and ministers. Among these cherished memories, the highlight is undoubtedly the performance in a packed stadium during 2017, where I had the honour to stand before former President Uhuru Kenyatta and our current President, His Excellency William Samoei Ruto. Such moments are not taken lightly, as I recognize that my calling has allowed me to share a table with Kings.
Do you have role models?
Absolutely, my musical journey has been significantly shaped by those I've collaborated with, including notable figures like Nathaniel Bassey, Erick Smith, and renowned artists such as Lokua Kanza, Sauti Sol, Dettrick Haddon, and Mike Kalambay.
Beyond Music what else do you do?
Beyond music, my interests extend to diverse sectors. I'm actively engaged in real estate, the fashion industry, and the realm of entertainment. Currently, I hold the esteemed position of Head of PR & Communications at Lapaire East Africa. Moreover, my involvement in philanthropy is a significant aspect of my life. Through the HONA FOUNDATION, our mission revolves around investing in talent across Africa, offering mentoring, education, and support to emerging artists. I proudly fulfil the role of President and Founder, directing our efforts toward nurturing and empowering talents on a meaningful scale.
How do you balance the two?
Harmonising these commitments is no small feat. However, I draw strength from discipline, organisation, focus, and recognizing boundaries. My leadership role requires collaboration with teams from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and origins. Thankfully, my proficiency in over six languages empowers me to bridge cultural gaps and effectively address challenges.
What are your future aspirations?
Looking ahead, my resolve remains unwavering. I'm committed to ceaselessly dedicating myself, allowing the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead me in fulfilling my purpose optimally. Additionally, our overarching aim is to establish a global brand that represents and spreads the message of Christ across continents. This entails investing in, nurturing, and fostering positive cultural values, ultimately showcasing Africa, particularly East Africa, to the world.