Ngaruiya Junior: from a rebellious drug addict to King of Kigooco (praise)

In recent years, 30 year old, Ngaruiya Junior has established himself as Kikuyu Gospel music’s go to praise leader earning him the nickname King of Kigooco. He has revived traditional Kikuyu gospel praise songs by putting instruments on them and re-establishing their mainstream popularity. So popular are the songs, they have eclipsed his original compositions. His new album is Jehova Nitwaguthaitha will be launched at Dominion Chapel Ministries, Kiserian September 15th 2013.
Early Life
Today in any event Ngaruiya leads praise; crowds are revived when he sings the Kigooco songs like Jehovah Mwathani, Mwathani Wakwa, Wi Mutheru Gocai Ngai Witu and Paul andikiire Kanitha. Though passionate about GOD today, Ngaruiya early life growing up in a Pastor’s home was laden with drug addictions, street life and rebellion that led him to quit school at class 6. Born in Kwambira, Limuru, Ngaruiya went to Kimiriru Primary School and at an early age got into bad company.

Wrong Company
They vandalized toilets, stole fruits from farms and even stole from churches including his father’s tithes and offerings. As a group of 4 boys’ money the stole was spent wastefully on eating mandazi’s. Later Ngaruiya was caught by his Dad and church members and spent two days in police cell. He was released on promising he would go back to school. Getting home, he threw his school uniform in a pit latrine and ran away from home to Nairobi to be a street boy. “I never lacked anything, my parents always provided every to my every need,” recalls Ngaruiya.

Street Boy and Addictions
That begun a downward spiral of addictions to bhang and glue and eating from garbage dumps. Life in Nairobi streets was hard, and Ngaruiya briefly returned to Limuru environs and begged food from people. Addictions also took their toll and Ngaruiya and the boys made Kikuyu Cemetery their home and slept there. For the 6 months he run from home, his parents reported him missing. “I’d hear on radio they were looking for me,” Ngaruiya told Kikuyu Musicians. The turning point came when he learned his aunt from Kimende had died and attended the funeral. At the funeral he was unrecognizable with his dirty street boy clothes, he saw his granny from Subukia he loved, and approached her.

Path to Redemption
The granny told his parents and through her, begged Ngaruiya to come back home. He promised only if he would be allowed to relocate to Subukia with his granny. The parents obliged and gave his granny money for clothes and provision. It was at Subukia, the urge to go back to church arose. He joined a Full Gospel Church, incidentally attended by a Kikuyu gospel duo called mother and son. He began singing with the church’s youth group after apologizing for his past misdeeds.

“People loved my singing,” Ngaruiya recalls and being mature he was asked one day to preach at a youth event. After preaching 40 people got born again, when he asked to be prayed for salvation 20 more people were born again. Life at his granny’s in Subukia consisted of Ngaruiya in casual labor of digging at other people’s farms. Later he got employed at Subukia Posho Mill which increased his visibility in the community, in addition to being active in Christian youth groups. “We used to sing in crusades, churches and funeral wakes,” Ngaruiya recalls.

Debut Album
Through those connections he got employed by a Pastor in Nyahururu to lead praise and worship in his church for Sh1000 a month. Though the pastor loved him, the wife hated Ngaruiya and even denied him food. “It was a hard life I used to go without food until the next salary,” he said. By close of 2000 he had saved some money to record his debut album ‘Jehovah wi Ngai Munene.’ He had also reconciled with his parents and his Dad, Harun Ngaruiya, who chipped in to help Ngaruiya record it in Nairobi.

He moved back to Nyahururu stayed a while but went back to Subukia at his granny’s. In those two places he managed to sell over 500 copies in 3 months. “I’d sell in crusades and in village funeral committees,” said Ngaruiya. Doors opened, and when popular gospel musicians like Hezeh Ndungu visited Subukia Ngaruiya performed with them. He later relocated back to his parents in Limuru.

Connecting With Anastasia Karanja
With Nairobi in proximity, Ngaruiya got connected to his musical mentor the late Anastasia Karanja of ‘Ino Ngoro’ fame. She mentored him spiritually and taught him to sing. Through her, he got invites to sing where she ministered like Keshas (overnight prayer vigils). To increase his reach, Ngaruiya also looked at newspaper obituaries to know who had died. Even without having known the deceased he would request presiding ministers to let him sing a song loved by the dead persons. Pastors obliged and he would sing and never charge anything. Several trips like those made Ngaruiya known.

Singing in Funerals
By the time Kikuyu radio stations knew him, he had already established himself in gospel music in Central Kenya. “Strange I got know from singing in maombolezi (funeral wakes),” said Ngaruiya. With Anastasia they founded an overnight prayer vigil called My Night with the King. Later on with KK a minister in Coro FM they started a church from the Keshas. Of his 10 albums so far he has 5 with Kigooco classic songs produced to capture the modern musical sound with guitars.

He also has done an original worship album ‘Jehovah ni Twaguthaitha.’’ He admits to love traditional Kigooco songs due to their longevity and their ministering influence never wanes. His advice to budding musicians is patience not expecting instant success. Mingling with people to increase talent exposure is vital according to Ngaruiya. Though piracy has hit him hard Ngaruiya sees it as a blessing in disguise as it increases his music’s reach. “If piracy hits You, know Your product is good don’t give up,” he observes.

Composing and Elevation to Prominence
When composing he gets a tune and message in tow. “It’s hard to explain, but it comes from GOD,” he said. His gifting has enabled him to sing for big shots in government like current President Uhuru Kenyatta he considers a friend. Internationally he has performed in Uganda and will perform in UK in December 2013. He aims to widen the reach of his music internationally in Africa and beyond. He is active in social media like Twitter, Linked In and Facebook and MCs events like weddings.

Importance of Prayers by Parents
Looking back, Ngaruiya admits he could not be where he is, were it not for his parents’ encouragement and persistent prayers when he was a delinquent. He advises young people to avoid drinking or drugs as they will ruin their futures. Having been a Pastor’s Kid (PK) Ngaruiya cautions church members to pray for their pastor’s families and homes, as the Devil targets them much, to destabilize Pastors from doing effective ministry to congregants. ‘Menyithia Mwathani Mathina Maku’ (tell Christ Your problems) is a song he wrote when he passed through troubles. In the song he prophesies to himself that he will be rich and out of those troubles. “I am doing well today,” he chimes in with a smile.

Mentoring Budding Musicians
Today he performs over 10 shows in a weekend and mentors over 10 budding musicians. Some he mentors include Uncle Ken wa Koimbi, CB Sir and Sammy Boy. Any budding musician he comes across Ngaruiya first establishes if he is forcing the musical talent or not. If he senses it’s there he takes him to the best studio. On recording he advises them before submitting the record to radio stations or an audience to listen first. “If it doesn’t make you happy, it won’t make a stranger happy,” he cautions.

Humility is also key to success “love GOD, walk humbly, pray and GOD will exalt you,” Ngaruiya said. For a man who wished to be a Kenya Power engineer he says now his heart is at home singing gospel music.
You can contact Ngaruiya on or via email or 

By Kikuyu Musicians Copyrights


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