“light a candle for Elphas Orenda Baya 1996-2022”
I met Elphas around 2015, our love for music brought us together. He had so much love for music and always spoke so highly of it. We used to have endless conversations about music plans and the future of it. He loved to engage in a good conversation, he could talk endlessly whenever he got a chance to say something, and never with a serious face, always with a big sweet goofy smile showing all of his teeth. He was a character with his own kind sense of humor, always so bubbly. He had the most beautiful smile to light up the room.
He was the person I confided to the most when I just began my music journey. I shared everything with him, the bright moments and the dark encounters in life, we spoke openly about everything and it was always a blast, lots of laughter and jokes. He was a safe space and always kept it real with me. He was unprejudiced with an open mind, very easy to talk to and quite a good listener. This was the time when I felt misunderstood by the people around me, but he got my vision, he believed in it and got the best out of me. He accepted all of me and had so much love for everything I did. He was my biggest cheerleader and became someone I vowed to make proud.
He was truly a loyal friend, and will go out of his way to be there for you when you need him. He loved people, relationships with others was a true joy of his life. He had a way of exuding comfort and hope. He was a real angel on earth.
He would visit me at home to sing together just to pass time. Around this time, one of his favorite artists was August Alsina and he would always sing his songs out loud even though his voice did not sound as good but yet he owned it like he was the best singer in the room and had no shame for it. Well, good for him because he actually later turned out to be a good singer. I mean, he never stopped singing.
We were really close in the first two years of our friendship until we both started travelling overseas. When I would be in Tanzania, he would be in a different country and vice versa. It went on like that for a couple of years but we always kept in touch. From endless video calls to long voice notes and chats. Always reminding ourselves of how far we’ve come and celebrating progress and growth.
Our friendship was mostly based on our shared love for music and the pursuit of it, and that became the side of his life I knew more about. He had a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, was very skilled in technology and digital marketing and had a caregiver license because he loved taking care of others. He was a healer and showed great respect and kindness in taking care of others.
He liked to look fresh and clean, his hair and beard trimmed to perfection. Always dappered and liked to use nice things. He had so much love for beautiful creations. He loved beautiful women with beautiful hearts. I mean, he was a heartbreaker and one of my favorite memories of him was when he had a crush on one of my friends and so I set him up on a date with her. This was when I saw another side of him, how he can become so small and gentle around a girl he likes.
He liked to maintain a low key and private lifestyle. He did not share much about his whereabouts and life endeavors. His digital footprint was almost non-existent, you could almost think he was anti-social. I believe this is why he nicknamed himself “Identity X”. However, in person he absolutely adored human interaction, he was an extrovert and lived life to the fullest. He carried the essence of a free spirit.
We haven't spoken much in the last year, but we still always found time to remind each other of the plans we set. He was to pursue music production and wanted to take over the world of entertainment in Tanzania. He had a radical point of view of how to run things and I believed he was going to become a game changer. I trusted his vision and will. He was a mastermind.
Another memory from our time together that I'm so fond of, is when we planned to throw a party in California (where he lived and studied) after my first Grammy win in the future. I’ll still visit California after my first Grammy win. I’ll do it just as we planned. I’ll find my way to the places he loved going, and I’ll celebrate knowing he is with me in spirit.
It felt like a fever dream when I heard of his passing. Such a young man with so much potential and love for this world to go just like that. It was tough to grasp and shattering that he is no longer with us. I thought of every moment we shared. His beautiful smile. There was so much I wanted to say about him but I did not know who to say to, and that’s how I came up with the idea of writing a memoir, for my fans to get to know a little bit of him and how he’s inspired and impacted my journey.
The first few days after his passing were hard to go by, but I was blessed to have good friends around me that somehow brought fun things at my disposal to get me going. After all, that’s what he would want us to do. Keep on, to be strong and celebrate life. To process this grief and accept it.
I’ll always remember him as a person that had so much impact in my life, through the love he had for everyone, his sincerity, and the many people he inspired with love throughout his lifetime.
Elphas is not with us now, but his spirit, his passion, his genius, his pride, his philosophy, love for this world and the impact he had on many people he met throughout his lifetime will be in our hearts forever. I’ll always put my love for Elphas into my music journey. Our beautiful memories will carry me forward.
I feel for his dear family who loved him so much, the unbearable pain they have to endure from this loss. I’m praying for their well being and healing. I hope they find strength to move on. They gifted us this beautiful soul, they raised an angel. May they find love and light from this.
His passing gave me a spiritual awakening on what life really means. I must say, his passing awakened my gratitude and love for life. In our time of existence, all we can do is love and be kind to each other. We thrive when love and kindness prevails.
I have realized there’s no right words of comfort to say to someone who’s experiencing a loss, no right amount of hugs, no right amount of money, gifts or property. Sadly, no right amount of thoughts and prayers can bring back the joy of their presence. But we can celebrate their lives instead, holding on to the good memories we shared with them and living by the philosophy they wanted fulfilled.
I also want to thank the beautiful souls who donated through gofundme to help me get back home early in time for the funeral. Your love has been received and I deeply appreciate you for being there for me. Keep shining!
I hope you’ve been inspired by Elphas' life.
May your soul rest in eternal peace my brother and friend, heaven is too lucky to have you. Until we meet again.
“Elphas enjoyed a slice of apple, a sip of fresh juice, and a bite of what he called his “million dollar fish,” with immense pleasure, he would smile that big smile and say, “It’s beautiful,” no matter how small”
Made of African magic,
And spun of pure gold,
Forever a sweet boy,
Always young, never old.
My father, he sent you,
A dream that he filled
For me to be, ”Mama,”
A family we did build.
Your laughter was joyful,
Your humor unmatched
Your genius unrivaled
Your life barely hatched.
Many memories we made
And planned many more.
I’ve waited and waited
For your knock at my door.
For the past eighteen months,
You have made me complete
Both my friend and my son,
With wings under your feet.
“Be strong today, Mama,”
For Nana and the others.
Please pray for my parents
And three loving brothers.
No sugar, more water,
Please think before you text,
My teacher you were,
Now I don’t know what’s next.
Mama Simba’s Resort
Was purchased for us.
No coincidence it’s sold,
No mess and no fuss.
(Fingers crossed )
You’re my world, Baby Simba,
My heart and my soul.
I will do what you’d want to
And attempt to be whole.
Asante sana, Elphas Baya,
For saving my life,
for being my malaika,
In joy and in strife.
Your American mother,
by the grace of God.