The Making Of A Popstar
TRUE LOVE Magazine East Africa|April 2020
Her first EP (Extended Play Record) is ruling the airwaves and Tanasha Donna wants you to know that despite her heartbreak and being a new mom she is on her way to superstardom.
ANDANJE WOBANDA

This is not a publicity stunt.’ That is the first statement 24-year old Tanasha Donna Oketch— mother of 6-month-old son Naseeb Junior— tells me when we meet for our interview. It is in regards to her breakup with the father of her son, Bongo Flava star and East Africa’s biggest talent Diamond Platinumz.

We’re meeting at Posh Palace Hair Studio & Spa to talk as she gets her hair and nails done; a day before our scheduled cover shoot. Our interview has been pushed forward a couple of times. Understandably because of the situation she is in: heartbreak, public scrutiny and being on every major tabloid, people speculating on the why and the how of the breakup.

‘I am not into that kiki stuff, ‘ she explains. This means that she wouldn’t deliberately start drama or controversy for fame. At least not a controversy like this.

She speaks softly. Carefully enunciating every word. Tee (as her close friends call her) looks relaxed in a jungle green bodysuit with ripped jean shorts and black sandals. Her hair is in her signature do; parted on the side and pulled back in a tight chignon at the nape of her neck. She is softer, daintier and her perfume imprints on you as soon as you hug or shake her hand.

Before we get into the why’s of the break-up which she promises to be candid about perhaps it is fair to start from the beginning.

Tanasha was born in England to an Italian father whom she rarely spoke to growing up and a Luo mother. The name Donna comes from her maternal grandmother and Oketch from her maternal grandfather. ‘I really don’t know much of my Italian roots because apart from speaking to my biological father a couple of times during my younger years I didn’t have a relationship with him.’

This she says was because it was a deep story for her mom that she still doesn’t have a complete grasp on.

Having left England when she was three-years-old she has no recollection of her time there, only pictures.

Her fondest memories are in Kenya where she lived with her Belgian stepfather before they relocated to his home country when she turned 12.

‘I remember being 6 years old dancing to Shakira, Beyonce and J-Lo in our apartment in Kileleshwa, near that roundabout in Kasuku centre. My cousins and I would put up those DVDs and mimic every move they made and my Stepfather would record the whole thing.’

This constant recording, she believes led to her love for the entertainment industry.

‘He loved to record. Everywhere we would go he would be with his video camera, filming. Even when we did things we hated, like hiking he would still be recording.’

Being an only child was hard for Tanasha. ‘Getting bored and having to talk to myself in my playroom with my dolls was the worst but I had four cousins and an uncle who would come over on the weekend so it wasn’t that bad.’

Because she was used to Kenya, the relocation to Belgium was hard. ‘It was a huge culture shock. Kids my age were smoking, had crazy piercings and tattoos. I disliked it that first year. But I eventually grew to love it.’

Tanasha admits that her teenage years were troubled. First, her parents got divorced after 12 years together when she was 15, then she was faced with the pressure of being in a new country and trying to fit in.

‘Europe changes people especially if you go there when you are young and are not wise enough to know what is right or wrong. I started partying when I was 16. Would skip school and disappear for days. There was a time I left home for a whole week.’

She admits that she gave her mom a hard time. ‘In Belgium, you can’t just hit your kid. We would snitch on our parents because it is against the law to beat your child. I pulled this stunt a couple of times and was taken to an institution for two weeks which is standard when you report your parent.’

She eventually grew out of this phase and when she turned twenty she had made up her mind to come back to Kenya.

‘I was a model back in Belgium but it wasn’t going as well as I wanted. At the time I had done a short course in media and knew it would be much easier to penetrate an African market as opposed to a European one where the competition is harder.’

It helped that she was in contact with people back home and knew how the industry worked. ‘I was watching a lot of Kenyan based movies and music (especially listening to Camp Mulla) and following all the new trends and I knew it was something that would work for me.’

The plan was to be in Kenya for 3 months and see how things work out. If they didn’t, she was to go back to Belgium? but then she fell in love with a Kenyan actor and her stay was extended. They broke up a year later.

‘I tried commercial modelling but it wasn’t paying the bills. Moved on to influencer jobs. Then to radio and eventually music.

‘From the beginning, I knew where I was going to be and the steps I had to take to get to my destination.’

GETTING INTO RADIO

She got onto NRG radio in late 2017 and was there for almost 2 years before she quit.

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