These six Kenyan celebs’ lives may be glamorous today but this was not so a few years ago.
When you spot your favourite celebrities on the cover of top magazines, grace TV shows and live the dream life, it’s hard to believe that some of them were regular people who did jobs far less admirable than yours.
Surprisingly, most celebrities in Kenya started with little to nothing. True, some celebrities like Prezzo had it good; some just did normal day jobs, but these Kenyan stars had it rough before struggling to become who they are today.
MEJJA HAWKED GROUNDNUTS IN NYERI
Arguably the most famous rapper from Nyeri, Mejja once sold groundnuts, improvised amplifiers and miraa in Nyeri to eke a living. In a 2015 interview with Standard Digital, Mejja admits that he went through thick and thin to record his first song in Nairobi.
“I was once a dream, a boy from the ghetto with love for music, some laughed at me, some discouraged me, but I kept on pushing. Sometimes I felt like giving up but my passion was stronger than my doubts it wasn't easy but finally I made it in what I wanted to do, music! Follow your dream, follow your passion and money will follow- just don't give up,” Mejja said.
JAGUAR SOLD WATER
Clad in his executive suit as an MP today, it’s hard to believe that Jaguar once sold water at a local shopping centre. He was also a tout at one time, and had to go back to school after struggling with fees. Jaguar narrated his story in a 2015 Instagram post, saying:
“When my mum passed away, I had just completed Class 8 and didn't have someone to take me to high school. So I went to Kikuyu to live with my Uncle where I helped him with house chores....One day my auntie tried to take me back to school at Musa Gitau primary but they refused and said I couldn't talk English and also was very expensive for my uncle and his wife to pay for me....I started selling water at Thogoto shopping centre during the day when my guardians were at work.”
DADDY OWEN WAS A PICKPOCKET
Severally, top gospel artist and MTV Africa award winner, Daddy Owen, has come out clean about what happened to one of his eyes. Prior to getting a break through into the Kenyan music scene, Daddy Owen went through such a tough life that he resulted into pickpocketing to supplement his day job’s income.
the result was that he finally got cornered and beat by a mob after which one of his eyes got damaged.
Fortunately, the top artiste had a turning life and has lived as a born again Christian ever since.
BETTY BAYO WAS A HOUSEHELP
There are few jobs in Kenya people despise as the job of a house help. Surprisingly, Betty Bayo, who once rocked radio waves with hit songs such as11th Hourstarted down as a maid. In a 2011 interview with nation.co.ke, Betty admitted that life’s hardship once plunged her into servant hood as a maid.
“Life was hard; most of my siblings were married but not stable financially. I grew up mostly with my brother, who’s two years older than me, and being a girl, I did most of the house work. My mother didn’t have a stable job too so it was poverty for us.”
Betty’s breakthrough would come several years later, but not before working as a secretary in an Insurance firm.
MBUSI SOLD MARIJUANA
Radio Jambo presenter, Githinji Mwangi, aka Mbusi, is a symbol of Rastafarianism and also one of the best paid radio presenters in Kenya.
But prior to his fame, Mbusi did jobs some would deem ‘dishonourable.’ After high school, for instance, Mbusi sold soup in Korogocho.
When later in 2005 his job as a set book actor didn’t offer enough to sustain his life, Mbusi sold bhang to make ends meet. On numerous occasions, Mbusi has also shared how he once got demoted from the role of a radio presenter at Ghetto Radio to being a messenger. For this he said in a 2013 interview with K24,
"It was like being demoted from President to Chief.”
MCA TRICKY WAS A STREET URCHIN
Although not for long, Kenyan comedy sensation, MCA Tricky, spent three years in the streets of Nairobi as a street urchin before struggling to make it into the comedy scene.
While a street urchin, the comedian worked as a vegetable errand. Life there as he has often put it was ”unforgiving.”
Later he would join the comedy scene after a group of Setbook performers advised him to. It’s to no surprise that that the Churchill comedian decided to build a brand founded on his struggles in the streets.