Why ‘Stella’ And Freshley Mwamburi Keeps Trending


The date May 17 will always make for a trending topic in Kenya, and not because of the Africities summit that just began in Kisumu where a host of stars are expected.

May 17 is a unique date because it will always be the day the first Kenyan heartbreak ever recorded came to be.

The story, like all others, begins with a boy meeting a girl and falling in love with her as soon as their eyes meet, possibly to the sound of raindrops and guitar strings.

Freshley Mwamburi, then a struggling musician, met Stella, a University of Nairobi student, at a Machakos hotel in the early ‘90s.

Mwamburi and his band, Everest Kings, had just finished performing at the Garden Hotel when an encounter with the shy Kamba girl changed the course of his life, and music career, forever.

He went on to fall in love with Stella, but because good things do not last, their relationship was quickly tested when soon thereafter the girl hit him with the news that she was travelling to Japan to further her studies.

And so Mwamburi, being smitten, would turn the world upside down looking for money to facilitate Stella’s travel abroad as well as her expenses while there, knowing that – when she was done – she would return and they would sail into the sunset together.


“We were in love and so I expected her to come back and marry me after the studies overseas. I gave the relationship my all, including disposing of my old car to cater for her financial needs while abroad,” he told the Standard during a past interview.

“We were in constant communication and all through, I knew she was all mine, that I would marry her. This Kamba girl was such a beauty…you know.”

And so the story goes that Stella would jet back into the country on May 17, 1992, with an excited and fresh-looking Mwamburi waiting at the airport to pick up the love of his life.

But, lo and behold, Stella would get off the airplane with a baby on her arms and a “short” Japanese husband in tow. 

Mwamburi, crestfallen and heartbroken, would then hit the studio and record the ‘Stella wangu’ smash hit song that has been passed down from generation to generation for three decades.

May 17, 2022 marks 30 years since that heartbreak.

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