The truth behind my rags to royalty rise

King Kaka. [Standard]

When I started on this journey that would go on to change my life, I had all sorts of negative energy around me.

How did I overcome and overlook these forces and emerge a king? Everyone sees the glory, but few are interested in the story. Mine is not a fairytale – it is a rags to royalty story.

Surviving poverty

I was born and raised in Eastlands, Nairobi, and we kept moving right after my parents separated.

Since I’d been enrolled at Kaloleni Nursery School and my mother used to commute to the area for work, we didn’t see the need for a school transfer.

We moved from Kaloleni to Jericho to Maringo and eventually back to Kaloleni. Not that we moved to a higher standard; it felt like we were just surviving.

But one great lesson I learnt in the middle of all this was from something my mother used to say. She’d always insist that we don’t show the world what we’re going through. Rather, she’d say, be a problem solver and work hard and smart so your children tell their children a different story.

I meet people from different cultures almost every day, and many lean on the overused excuse of poverty. In one of my interviews, I was asked what inspires me, and I confidently said, “Poverty”.

What do I realistically mean when I say that?

Poverty is no joke. We had nights when my mother would come home and we’d have black tea for dinner. There were days getting enough money for food was an issue.

We were sent home several times because we didn’t have school fees. We had our house locked because my mother couldn’t afford the Sh700 rent. I have so many stories like these.

Different cloth

I’ve had the privilege of travelling across the world in the past few years, and what I have learnt I can only relate to what I learnt when I was getting out of my hood: exposure.

Most of my peers decided to inherit the ways of their seniors. And by that, I mean living a life of crime and drugs.

So where did I cut my cloth that eventually turned out different? I always knew there was a world beyond what I was going through, and I had so little that I was very motivated to have more.

The moment I stepped out of the ‘hood’, I was in direct contact with a different world. I used to ask myself, how come there are people in the city who own the latest model of cars or suits, own their own mansions or can afford rent of Sh200,000, and they’re in the same country as my mother who couldn’t afford Sh700?

That gave me the motivation to change my narrative.

But to claim this lifestyle that I was admiring, I had to make a lot of sacrifices and be tactical as well. I was literally going to war with poverty.

The attack plans that are developed by generals before they go to war are very detailed. The good thing is that we know the face of poverty and we’ve had our war with it for a long time. Here’s the strategy I used.

1. I stopped pleasing everyone. And by everyone, I mean my peers and those who tried to discourage my baby steps.

The problem with pleasing everyone is that you’ll lose your path and your true identity. By the time you want to restore factory settings, it’ll be too late. I move differently; I’m a believer in my instincts.

2. I stopped fearing change. This new world that I was interacting with was a bit of a culture shock. I had two options: to embrace it or to keep living the ghetto way.

I decided to adapt, but never lost my ghetto ways. Don’t get me wrong, ghetto is a lifestyle I take pride in to the point that I named my latest album Eastlando Royalty.

The street knowledge I acquired propelled me to royal status. The ghetto life gave me survival skills that complemented my newly acquired business space.

3. I followed my passion. Sometimes we come across a role model’s story, and it looks so easy when you read it. I might describe the things I went through in detail, but all this will do is motivate you; however, my experiences gave me a different layer of skin.

The level of contentment that comes when you follow your heart is extremely satisfying. Music is my first love, though I’m a man of many skills, from writing to painting, drawing and acting.

The type of business that lives in your heart should be your first experiment.


The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

By Graham Kajilwa 23 hours ago
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