Stella Mwangi, who came to Norway from Kenya as a child, will represent her adopted country at the Eurovision Song Contest in Germany this spring. Mwangi sang and danced her way to a decisive victory at Norway’s version of the event, Melodi Grand Prix, over the weekend.
“Maybe I’ll make a trip back to Kenya before the (Eurovision) finals, just to talk with my aunts and both by grandmothers,” Mwangi told reporters, crying with joy after winning the most votes for best song at the Melodi Grand Prix final in Oslo Saturday night.
Her song centers heavily on what her grandmothers told her as a young girl, that she could be whatever she wants to be. The song, called “Haba haba,” is an energetic pop number full of African rhythm and enthusiasm. A commentator for newspaper Aftenposten noted that bodes well for further success at Eurovision, since recent winners (including Alexander Rybak, also of Norway, two year years ago) also did well at the song contest with bubbly songs full of energy.
“I bet that will characterize this year’s Eurovision final, too, so Norway has chosen well,” wrote Robert Hoftun Gjestad in Aftenposten. He compared Mwangi’s song Haba haba to the monster hit Waka waka that sprang to international popularity during the World Cup in South Africa last summer.
It remains noteworthy that Norwegian voters in the middle of winter chose a song with African rhythm written and performed by a 24-year-old woman originally from Kenya. Mwangi’s song had been heavily favoured all along by the bookmakers, and she simply charmed her audience in the Oslo Spektrum Arena and those watching the nationally televised final at home.
Mwangi came to Norway in 1991 as a four-year-old and grew up in Eidsvoll and Kløfta, northeast of Oslo. She already is a well-known singer in Kenya but currently lives at Lillestrøm, also just northeast of Oslo.
“I am so grateful for all the votes, I’m so glad I get to represent Norway with what I burn for,” Mwangi told reporters after digesting the fact that she had won.
“Music means everything to me,” she added. Mwangi won 127,213 votes just from eastern Norway and Trøndelag, and more than 120,000 from the rest of the country.
The second-place winner was The BlackSheeps.
See a video of Stella Mwangi’s winning performance here (external link).