ANGEL WANJIRU-The Budding Songstress

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Ann Ngugi and her daughter Angel.

Angel Wanjiru has never let the fact that she is a child with special needs deter her from following her dreams.The budding songstress has released a number of songs, including one dubbed Nataka Jua (I want to know),which she and her TV personality mother, Ann Ngugi, sung together. Angel talked to MWAURA KARAGU about her challenging childhood, learning to accept herself and tapping into her talent.

Fourteen-year-old Angel Wanjiru has Congenital Hydrocephalus, a condition where one is born with an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain causing the head to enlarge.Despite her condition, she has not allowed it to hold her back. Angel, who
is exploring her potential in life was on her way to a live interview on CTN TV to talk about her music, when we caught up with her for this interview.

Growing up, the now standard eight pupil at Loreto Convent Valley Road recounts experiencing a problematic childhood. “Many times children would laugh at my physique, ignorant of my condition. As a result, I struggled with self-esteem. At times I would cry and on some days I wished that I wasn’t born with the condition. In addition I spent time in and out of hospital in search of medical treatment, which was quite grueling.” She recalls.
As she grew up, through the help of her mother, Angel started to accept herself, recognize and appreciate all the talent within. In addition to singing she also plays football, which she is equally good at. Angel has learnt not to wait for things to come her way. Through being
proactive in a number of activities, she has built relationships that have opened doors and taken her to places she only dreamt of.

A difficult birth no doubt, Angel draws her inspiration from her mother Ann Ngugi, a TV
personality in Kenya. She explains, “My mum has been there for me in good and bad times. She has never left my side. I know she has endured so much to raise me the best way she can,” she says and for a minute, she is lost in deep thought. Angel recounts some of the stories her mum has narrated to her. “When my mum was carrying me in her womb,
she had prolonged labour. I was in her womb for 42 weeks instead of the usual
40 weeks. She says from the word go I was unique in my own ways. Mum didn’t
experience labour pains and it is my grandmother who insisted she should seek some medical assistance as the due date was long overdue. At the hospital,  doctors tried inducing her without much success and finally she was rushed in for an emergency CS one early Saturday on May 6, 2004.

When I was born, doctors immediately recognized that my head was swollen and I was whisked off to the nursery for specialized care. Hours later, mum thought it was bad dream when I was brought to her and my head was huge and kept growing. She kept hoping that after a day or two my head would shrink to a normal size, but that was not the case. Some of those who came to visit her made comments about me that crushed her spirits even more.
Grandmother was and has always been a pillar of faith in the family. She prayed and was very supportive of us.” Desperate search for treatment, Angel often cried a lot as she was in constant pain. According to her mother, Angel didn’t smile up until she was 3 years old, which was also the time she started walking. By that time her mother had sought medical care in Kenya in a desperate attempt to stop Angel’s head from growing further, in order to free her from pain. At two weeks old Angel underwent her first surgery, which involved inserting a plastic shunt that ran from her head down to her stomach to release water from her head. After 4 weeks the shunt failed and had to be removed. Furthermore she suffered an infection from the operation and had to take some time to recover from the infection before she underwent yet another operation. Unfortunately even this was not successful.

Following a doctor’s advice, Angel’s mum sought further medical intervention for her daughter in Uganda. Further surgery was done but Angel didn’t get better. It was at this point that her mum turned wholly to God. She believed that her daughter could
live free from the tubes. True to her faith, today Angel is free from the tubes and healthy. “Notwithstanding all that I have gone through, I am living a life of purpose. Mum is raising me to be independent, is very supportive and encourages me to express myself freely.
Without her love and inspiration, life would not have been easy,” says Angel.

Angel’s gift in singing began at the age of two when she would hum whatever song she heard on radio or TV, as a result she grew up loving music. Her song Nataka Jua which she collaborated with her mother is conversational, as Angela asks questions about herself and
her mother responds to these. She has also released another song; Typu Yako which is a praise song to God. Recently, Angel made a collabo with Audrey, a girl living with blindness on the song Niko Sawa.
She says so far she has received positive feedback about the song and its popularity is growing. Angel says, “Music brings me comfort, keeps me strong and helps me express my
feelings.’’
She believes that knowing and accepting oneself is a great accomplishment and her greatest strength. Angel, believes that in life everyone faces challenges and she is no exception. Her positive outlook of life and faith in God has helped her overcome her biggest
challenges yet; the stigma of people laughing at the size of her head, curious stares and finger pointing. To date Angel can’t walk around for long without pausing to rest because of the weight on her head. In addition, she can only bend her head for a short duration for thesame reason. She aspires to tell her story through her musical talent.

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