Years after her tragic death in a road accident, Angela’s music, and influence have proven to be larger than life as the demand for her music still roams. Whenever you mention the Gospel stars in #Kenyan, for instance, the likes of Gloria Muliro, Mercy Masika, Janet Otieno, Kambua, Size8 Cizarina Nasirumbi, Joy Mugambi, Edel Kweyu, Faith Kithele,Damaris Manzi, Tabby Chacha and others, you would not forget or you will get knocked down by the angelic and birdlike voice of Angela Chibalonza. Her vibrant music still lingers our minds years after her tragic death. Angela Chibalonza Runinga Muliri is a famous gospel singer in Kenya, the talent of which manifested itself in early childhood – was the delight of our ears as we grew up to who we are today. I used to listen to her hit songs when I was in lower class back in the 90s and we grew up being taught to sing some of her songs. May the Lord Rest Her Soul in Peace. Our hopes are that we shall one day meet her and wherever she is, she is rejoicing with the Angels.
“Mimi nikazi ya mikono yako baba.” (I am the work of your hands Father) ”
Uliniumba Nikuabudu.” means “You Created Me to Worship You.” in Swahili. This song is from the late Angela Chibalonza whose music has been a blessing to many East Africans for over a decade. Psalm 95:6 declares “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” The world is to understand that “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16). Watch the video below;
Angela Chibalonza Runiga was born on November 26, 1976, in Bukavu, eastern Congo-Kinshasa. She enjoyed music right from childhood. After completing secondary school in 1996, Chibalonza moved to Kenya the following year in what she described as her response to a call from God to serve Him in the 34-million East African nation and also to pursue her music career. Though she had sung in the choir and even rose to choir leadership since 1992 when she got saved aged 15 years, Chibalonza had not recorded any music in her native Congo. Thus her travel to Nairobi to embark on a music career was appreciated and encouraged by her Christian parents and 10 siblings. In Kenya, the budding musician released her maiden album, Nikuabudu. She followed it up with Jina la Yesu the following year, in 1998. The 1976-born Congolese musician is one of the few artists who had managed to release no less than 10 albums, which have been well received locally and abroad. She moved to Nairobi in 1998.
In 1999, she released Mwisho wa Dunia and thereafter Ninapotembea. Angela’s popular albums sold well across the Kiswahili-speaking in eastern and central Africa. Echoes of her songs bombarded across streets and homes and soon, it was like a National Anthem. She endeared herself and warmed her way into the hearts of millions of music lovers – even among those that do not profess Christianity – in her rich vocals that she delivered through live performances in churches and at open-air public Christian meetings. Her music albums have sold in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and in other parts of the world where Kiswahili, Lingala, and French are spoken. “I am famous in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Congo but I have no money to show for it. I am content serving God,” Chibalonza often used to say.
In 2004, Kora All Africa Music Awards nominated Chibalonza for Best Gospel Female Artist award for Jubilee, off Yahwe Uhimidiwe album. She did not win but it was clear that her talent was now in the public domain. In her Kora nomination profile, the musician says, “Jina la Yesu made history in my musical career; it made me the Angela I am today. I got to be known in Kenya and in East and Central Africa. I have released other albums like Ninapotembea, Nzambe Papa, and Nakuabudu. Yahwe Uhimidiwe contains the song Jubilee, which is the song she had submitted for the Kora All Africa Music Awards 2004.”
Singing mainly in Lingala and Kiswahili and at times in French, Runiga was set to release her latest album, Nimekutana na Yesu (I have Met With Jesus), at Nairobi Cinema in Nairobi, on September 29, 2007. This was never to be. On September 22, 2007, Angela, her driver, Kennedy Aluoch, and vocalist, Nimrod Makori, perished in a ghastly morning road accident at Kinale, on the Naivasha-Nairobi highway while they were returning to Nairobi from a performance at Egerton University in Njoro.
The shocking news of her death filtered across Kenya via radio and television. Some said that Chibalonza, whose first name means Angel, “has been called to go and lend her voice to the Angels in praise of God up in heaven”. Runiga also sang in languages like Luganda to cut across language barriers. Oh Yesu Wange off her Ninapotembea (Whenever I Walk) album, for instance, is in Luganda. Runiga left behind her husband and pastor Elisha Muliri. Her humility was exemplary considering that some her counterparts in the same industry have more passion for the money than the music they do even todate.