An upcoming Kenyan artist whose song recently went viral on social media has narrated how she was deported from the US after serving a five-year jail sentence.
In an interview with Daily Nation, Mercy Atis said she is trying to get back on her feet after she returned to the country following a painful experience abroad.
She recently faced harsh criticism and mockery from online users after her song (https://youtu.be/RIN2Yd6dICU) dubbed ‘I Don Wanna Know’ went viral.
Mercy, who hails from Kisumu, moved to the US in 2005 to study courtesy of a sponsorship by a local church. She enrolled in a nursing course and was required to market Christian books of the church.
She completed her course and started practicing but things took a different turn after she was arrested and charged with arson. She was convicted and handed a five-year prison sentence.
“In 2009, I was arrested for arson and jailed for five years. What do you do when you are arrested in a foreign country? No family visitations and you don’t know anybody? You start looking for solace. I turned to music,” she said.
After serving her jail term, she was incarcerated in an immigration jail for nine months and deported to Kenya in 2014.
“I returned aboard a military plane from California, the USA to Kenya dressed in a hospital gown. I was accompanied by eight people including a doctor and a therapist.”
“There were no signs that coming back, a deportee, will make my life better as I had no money or assets to my name. However, on my way home, I have one resolve— to make it as a musician,” Mercy added.
Upon her arrival, members of her family were not welcoming, forcing her to live with a friend and do menial jobs and hawking in Kisumu to make ends meet.
She later met an old friend who offered to help her record her songs at an affordable rate but things did not work, forcing her to relocate to Malindi.
Mercy hoped her new song ‘I Don’t Wanna’ Know’ would be a hit but it turned out to be a nightmare for her due to hostile response from Kenyans online.
“When I shared my latest song titled “I don’t wanna know” on Facebook and YouTube through my stage name Mercy Atis, I didn’t expect to go viral…As an upcoming artist, this should have made me happy.”
“However, the first two nights were tough. I couldn’t sleep as I wondered why people were being so mean to me,” she noted.
But despite the backlash, Mercy says the suffering she went through in a foreign country helped her grow a thick skin.
“The five years I was jailed taught me to be brave and persevere. We were encouraged to start a new life for ourselves. What I wasn’t prepared for, is that sometimes, the same people calling for your change will be the same one mocking the process.” she said.
The song may have flopped but it helped her reconnect with a Kenyan friend who lives in California after losing touch for eight years.