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Critics said her life was over: A talk with Radio show host Mwalimu Rachel

Achieving Woman
 Photo: Courtesy

Just as things were coming together in her career, Rachel Muthoni's private life was rumored to be falling apart. The radio show host, popularly known as Mwalimu Rachel talks, to us about why pride and persistence are key ingredients for success.

How many people do you know — politicians don’t count — who would put up a billboard of themselves as a marketing strategy?

Rachel, a radio and TV presenter, did just that early this year. Despite being employed by Homeboyz Radio as the host of afternoon show Class 124, she spent close to Sh300,000 of her own money to put up a billboard in the capital city to advertise her website www.mwalimurachel.com.

She says many people did not believe she paid for it herself. “They thought a major brand or sponsor was behind it, but I just do things differently. I decided to put it up in Westlands, Mpaka Road, because that’s, well, electric avenue,” she says. Did it work? We ask.

“Yes. I started seeing other personalities do the same for their own launches and events. I mean, we are here talking about the billboard so I guess it did work,” she says.

She might have had a simple childhood, but Rachel had big dreams for her life. The second child in a family of four, she grew up in Mombasa, but later relocated to Embu.

“I still don’t understand why we had to relocate. The weather was good, the beach was close by, and the boys were cute,” she says.

Rachel says her father instilled discipline in his children and encouraged them to take their studies seriously.

“I wasn’t a bookworm though. That was my sister. Always top of her class. I loved watching TV more and imitating the presenters and actors from how they spoke and expressed themselves.”

Rachel says she became interested in the media at a young age, though she was torn between law and the media.

“I wanted to be a lawyer since maths just did not let me prosper. I also thought of being a media personality. I knew that as long as I was talking to people for a living, it would make me happy,” she says adding that she wanted to study media, but did not get the chance to major in it and settled for sociology and communication.

 Photo: Courtesy

“I knew I had to work with what I had so I studied hard. Then I got an internship at Ghetto Radio. I was their first intern. It still makes me proud. I am definitely in my dream career,” she says.

After a few months at Ghetto Radio, Rachel got what she thought was a big break when Homeboyz Radio started a station. But her naïve enthusiasm was cut short by the realities of hosting a live show by herself. Rachel says there are people who didn’t believe in her.

“I love surprising people —shocking them even — with what I can do. So when people didn’t see the best in me in the beginning, I worked hard to show them. I created my own opportunities and never backed down from a challenge. Then they themselves couldn’t deny the force that I am,” she says.

She adds that her parents instilled a ‘never quit’ attitude in her and her siblings.

“There were times it was tough, but my pride wouldn’t let me quit. My parents never quit when times got hard. I am made of them so why would I quit? I have family pride to uphold,” she says.

Rachel advises the youth to find out their purpose because once they do, they will have that much more motivation to keep at a job, even when the going gets tough.

“When you love what you do, you are a slave to it. You may think of leaving, but you can’t. This is what I was born to do. My divine purpose. Without it, I honestly don’t know what I would do,” she says.

Just as Rachel was settling into her new role, she became pregnant. “People in the industry thought it was over for me. They underestimated me and thought I would wallow in self-pity of baby weight and stress. They clearly didn’t see me coming back better and stronger.”

 Photo: Courtesy

There were rumors that her live-in boyfriend (who she’s still with) had left her after the surprise pregnancy and that their relationship had never been serious. But she didn’t let the naysayers get to her. She bounced back and went on to conquer not only the radio world, but also TV and emceeing.

Rachel says she is proud to be a mother and wife. “My family means everything to me. They are a blessing I protect with my life. My [rapper] husband K-Letta has held my hand through the good and not so good times when even I had doubts about my capabilities. We have one handsome son together — Jabari — who is now three years old,” Rachel says.

“As a career woman, I’m Mwalimu Rachel. At home, I am Mama J, and wife. I cook, clean, and oversee matters of the home. Where I fall short, K-Letta — or Baba J as I like to call him — steps in for me so I don’t have to handle everything. He’s heaven sent. I also put everything in prayer. And I have conversations with the Almighty all the time. Everywhere,” she says.

Bubbly girl blues

Despite her ever-bubbly personality, Rachel says she sometimes gets discouraged when a project does not work out, but chooses not to dwell on the negative.

“Sometimes I cry and let it out of my system. Then I pray for strength and surround myself with people who will push me on,” she says.

She urges people not to get discouraged by critics. “Jesus himself was criticized. Who am I not to be? I used to get so upset when a listener said something negative about me or my show. With time I have managed to develop thick skin as well as sieve what is relevant and what isn’t,” Rachel says, giving the example of someone who listened to her radio show and took to social media to criticize her for the way she laughs.

“Can you imagine? How I laugh. How can you hate someone because of how they laugh? I wanted to say something mean, but the professional, level-headed me took a step back and told him I cannot really change my laugh, but I won’t laugh too close to the microphone,” she says.

Rachel is quick to point out that she does not engage every critic because people only hear what they want to. “I only engage those that I feel need to be guided,” she says.

Rachel confesses that she never thought she would find herself in a classroom again after completing her degree, but she did.

“As I said, I didn’t like books, but I came to realise it’s not the books I didn’t like, it was how I was taught. Very mechanical. But I decided to take a course on financial freedom and it paid off,” she says. “Time is one of the most important resources you have. Use it to gain knowledge and it will pay off.”

Rachel says: “I am a strong believer in investing in yourself in any and every small way. Knowledge is power and a source of income. Ask yourself – how much do I know about what I’m passionate about? Take the time to read more about it. Google is your friend. Empower yourself with knowledge first. When the opportunity comes knocking, you will be ready,” she says.

 Photo: Courtesy


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