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'I’m a DJ and enjoying it'

Saturday January 25 2020

DISABILITY

Winfred Wanjiku, professionally known as DJ Wiwa, performs during the Rotary Club Sunshine Rally at ASK Showground on February 16, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

LILYS NJERU
By LILYS NJERU
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Unlike others in the profession, Winfred Wanjiru uses her feet to spin and scratch. She tells her story.

"Hello, my name is Winfred Wanjiku. I am a deejay so you can call me DJ Wiwa. I’ve realised that some people get shocked and look at me with disbelief whenever I introduce myself.

Maybe they wonder how I can be a deejay yet my hand movements are slow and jerky. But I deejay using my feet, from selecting songs to the mixing and scratching on the decks.

I was born with a condition, cerebral palsy, which my mother, who died on Christmas Day last year, did not realise until I was six months old. I am glad that she resolved not to raise me differently from my three siblings.

When she was assigning duties around the house, I got some as well, like keeping the house neat and tidy. And when I started school, I would do the laundry and clean the house.

My family came through for me with chores like washing the dishes and helping me dress my upper body. My childhood was mostly fun. I played with other children in the neighbourhood.

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I was a bit uncoordinated, but that made the games even livelier, if I remember well.

JOB OPTIONS

Because of my condition, my mother enrolled me at Joytown Primary School in Thika, a school for children with special needs.

I later proceeded to Joytown Secondary School within the same precincts. At the time, I did not realise how tough it was living with the condition, until I completed my studies in tourism, travel and business in 2014.

“What can you do?” most potential employers would ask, indirectly referring to my slurred speech, their eyes on my hands.

When I failed to get a job, I told myself, 'How about I start hawking jewellery?'

I was brought up in Mwea, Kirinyaga County, and since I was living with my mother at the time, we would hawk jewellery together.

Many people grew fond of me and would occasionally call my mother, asking when I would make the deliveries.

Then, one day in 2018, my mother asked me, 'Winnie, now that we have saved some money from the hawking business, maybe you should go back to school. And since you love music, have you ever considered being a DJ?'

I don’t remember the exact response I gave her but I guffawed. First, I would not have expected such a suggestion from my mother. Second, I knew only a handful female deejays, and none with my condition.

SUPPORT

However, since I enjoy music, I agreed to her suggestion. And in June 2018, accompanied by my helper, I came to the city for a deejaying course at Talanta Institute.

During the first few lessons I thought to myself, 'What are you doing? How are you going to hack this?' However, I had a lot of support from my family, classmates and tutors.

I graduated in October 2018. Besides, the deejaying community has embraced me and my decks are actually a gift from them. I look up to deejays like DJ Sadic and DJ Crème de la Crème .

In a good month, I get around three gigs, each paying about Sh10,000. But there are months when I do not get even one.

The industry is still somewhat tough to manoeuvre, but I am proactive in seeking out gigs and marketing myself on various social media platforms.

The fact that I have to depend on someone else whenever I have an event is also a challenge, but I have a friend who always comes through for me at such times.

SOURCE OF MOTIVATION

At the moment, I am living with one of my sisters in Mwea. Deejaying is fun. I get to enjoy myself and meet new people at every event I attend.

One of my friends jokingly says that it is also a good way to meet a potential boyfriend because I have been single for so long. All my life, actually.

But I feel that getting into a relationship now would derail my plans and dreams, but maybe that will change when I meet my 'Mr Right'.

My dream is to deejay for large crowds during the many concerts held in the country, or even be part of a music show. To encourage myself, I occasionally whisper to myself, 'You are the queen of the decks.'

While it has been a journey fraught with hitches, I am glad that I have proved to the world that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

During my free time I write spoken-word poems on love and life."

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