More than often we see successful people and wish we were in their place. We tend to forget that there is a path they took to get to where they are. This path is often defined by numerous hurdles and tribulations.
Johnston Mwakazi is a household name in the Kenyan media industry. He is popularly known for his great voice that is behind numerous TV commercials. Johnston considers his life to be a miracle. Born in Kibera slums and brought up by a single mum, Mwakazi knew he had no option but to strive for success. This was and still is his personal motto.
“I had no one else to depend on except my mother. My father lost his job due to heavy drinking leaving my mother who was a cleaner and earning peanuts to provide and support the family,” he narrates.
Mwakazi opens up on how he learnt to survive in the slums. He started from pushing carts, to carrying water for sale, to working at construction sites and later on graduated to selling hot-pots and other wares in the city.
“We lived in a mud house in Kibera, where we had to buy water once a week. This meant I took a bath once a week. When it came to washrooms, we had to help ourselves inside the house and probably in the morning try to sort it out,” he says.
Apart from these, Mwakazi’s peers introduced him to pornography at the age of 14 which resulted in spending most of his time pursuing the desires of his flesh.
Luckily for Mwakazi, he was introduced to church by his mother. It is here that he learnt how different the world was from his usual surrounding in Kibera. This realization made his desires to mature and move out of the slum grow stronger.
“When I joined high school, I gave my life to Christ but I was still serving my addictions hoping no one will find out. I later came to learn that this was a big mistake because I was violating myself and my body,” he said. Mwakazi added that it was at this point that he called upon God and asked Him to remove his sin of flesh.
His life took a dimensional turn when a facilitator at Kibera theater group, (which he had join to pursue his passion for arts) introduced him to the world of advertising as a voice over artist. This gave birth to his career as a radio news presenter and later on a TV news anchor.
After a while, Mwakazi felt that it was time for him to grow and move onto something new. He had been an anchor for a while and the need for change kept clawing at him.
“I was tired of just having a good show and the false sense of security that comes with that,” he said. “I wanted to be involved with something that challenged me to grow, plus my mentor Bedan Mbugua challenged me to step into something new,” he added.
Mwakazi now owns a Public Relations company known as Royal Voice International and is a director at WTV. His future plan is to get into waste management, renewable energy and water management.