No matter how hard a situation may be, you can rise above it

Friday April 21 2017

Johnson Mwakazi is aMedia manager at the Royal Voice International, former news anchor at Citizen TV. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA

Johnson Mwakazi is aMedia manager at the Royal Voice International, former news anchor at Citizen TV. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA 

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You left Royal Media Services just about the time when your career was getting to its high, did you see this as a risk?

I always had a desire to become a media manager. That is why I moved. The transition was not abrupt: the move is something that I had planned for prior and I had my act together. But, that is not to say that the decision was not a hard one. I spoke to my mentors and they all gave me their opinion…in a nutshell, the move involved a vigorous mental process.

How easy was it getting out of a predictable zone to concentrate on your own business?

I had a choice and I had prepared for the switch because, as I have already pointed out, this switch had a properly laid out plan and I had mentors to help me think through it. So, I was not looking at the issue alone. Then, I also had the bigger picture to consider – my motivation to become a part of a culture that could influence change.

What would you say was the effect of being raised in Kibera on the person that you are today?

After I became exposed to life outside Kibera, I realised just how much more there is to life. So, I always have a sense of “what else” and this pushes me in my daily life. I am powerfully aware of the fact that what I have today could be good but there is so much more that I could achieve. So, in my life, wherever I am, I always feel that there are more possibilities. I also learnt that no matter how hard a situation may be, I can rise above it.

Do you think that people who are in the limelight have any moral obligation towards the younger generation?

It is total deception to think that you are better than people who are not in the limelight. I am in the limelight, so, I know that 10 years from today, I will be watched either as an inspiration or as a warning. What you are supposed to ask yourself if you are in the limelight is, will you have the confidence to face your kids and stand by your actions? For me, these decide whether morality is important or not.

Has being in the limelight changed anything in your essence as an individual?

Absolutely. Being in the limelight comes with its own perks and however you look at it, attention does something to your brain which again needs to be channelled properly for it to yield good results. I have had my tickets paid and given preferential treatment in hotels or hospitals just because I am Mwakazi. But, sometimes I go to places and prices of commodities are doubled just because I am Mwakazi.

How are you able to keep your cool with the pressure that comes with being in the limelight?

By recognising that I am who I am today because of God’s favour. In addition, through engaging my mind and realising that every position of influence that I hold has an expiry date. So, my business in that position is to influence people in the right way and guide those that look up to me, not to be unnecessarily flashy.

The other guide that I have is authenticity – realising where I am, where I am coming from and where I want to go.

So many young people are trying to get into the media. What is your advice on the best ways to get in?

Make use of social media such as YouTube. If you are talented and you are good, people will locate you. Prepare yourself because it is really not luck or magic. You have to constantly work on your craft because there is no easy money. But, the more you work, the better prepared you will be for that big breakthrough.

Many young people today say they lack role models in the society. As someone who places a high premium on role modelling, do you think this is true?

This could be true but based on perspective. I think that young people need to look further afield – what are they exposed to? What places are they frequenting and what television channels do they patronise? I think that it is very important for these young people to begin to be honest with themselves and really look inward.

Being a young person in the age of the Internet where there are all sorts of influences coming in is challenging. What advice do you have for young people struggling with double lives?

Do not assume that you have the rest of your life to make things right. If you intend to live a certain way, begin now. And it is very easy to get into an addiction so if it is a path that you are not sure of, do not set out on it because you can get stuck there.

That said, there is nothing new under the sun so the challenges that young people are dealing with today are things that people of the older generation have dealt with in their time and if they are willing to speak up and guide young people, I think we can begin to move faster.