BEFORE NOW: THE BEGINNING
I was 17 years old when my Business Studies teacher in High school suggested I pursue a career in Media. I remember looking at her blankly because I’d just poured my heart out to her about my desire to ‘fix’ criminals by delving into their mindset in my chosen career of Criminal Psychology. She didn’t buy it. In the end she managed to convince me; but I was still held hostage by the insecurities that I had harbored since I was this little girl who was teased about her unusually deep voice, peculiar interests and habits and extreme tomboy tendencies…
I was still somewhat awkward in my teens; going between flirting with boys to locking myself in the music room of my high school, getting lost in Alternative Rock and studying Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for my exams. Saturday mornings were my favourite; myself, a huge stereo and Rick Dees on Capital FM. I listened to Capital…a lot. We didn’t have the frequency in Mombasa so when I got the chance to, I would indulge in Patricia Amira’s husky laugh, Zain Verjee’s wit, Phil Matthews’ epic music taste and Eve D’Souza’s swag. I felt like I belonged there and eventually…I did. I was relentless when looking for a job at Capital; I called everyday, same time, same out-of-breath desperation to be a part of that world. Eventually I was put through to Phil Matthews, and after hyperventilating for a few seconds, he would politely say if anything opened up they would consider me. They had my demo. They had my pride. So I waited. In the meantime I continued lending my voice to the mid-morning show on Mombasa’s Pulse FM, which, though it was my first ever radio gig, was frustrating and just not…Capital! A month later, I was in the car with my mother and sister, stuck in traffic in town as we looked for outfits and gifts for my cousins wedding. I got a call, and it was Phil Matthews baritone on the other line, asking how soon I could come in for an interview. I almost stopped breathing! Plus the timing was freakish, since I was already in Nairobi. A few weeks later, 2003, at 19 and I was on the air. I was at Capital FM!
I would do that for 8 months before pursuing further studies and then returning home in 2007 to try my luck at radio again, but there were no openings. I wore out my heels looking for work in radio until a friend suggested TV. I laughed it off initially until she pointed out that I still needed to pay the bills. She was right. My parents, though loving, were the tough-love kind; find a job, period. That was January and in February, through a series of very fortunate events and God’s perfect timing, I was the second host of the popular travel show, Out And About on KTN. I took over from the incomparable Janet Kanini-Ikua; God rest her soul 🙏🏾
I was in a happy place; travel, good food, wildlife, nature and finally adulting on my own terms; living with my sister, helping with the bills, growing out of my tomboy phase and embracing womanhood. Until the contract for the travel show ended two seasons in and there I was, back to square one.
At that time Njoroge Mwaura and Beatrice Marshall had started courting me to become a News Anchor, but my 23 year old self just didn’t feel good enough, ready enough, pretty enough. I giggled and pretended I was entertaining the idea and went off to Mombasa to figure out my life, fast! It was while I was out shopping for lessos in Old Town that I got a phone call from Farida Karoney that would change my life…
(To be continued…)
Photography: Lyra Aoko
Body Art: Lindsay Dawn Adhiambo