Just who is this man: Johnson Mwakazi
Most people who grow up in the slums never make it out, why do you think you were able to make it out?
I was born and raised in Kibera, my life is only but a miracle! A lot of people are privileged to grow up with the dependency syndrome, where you know if things don’t work out you can always fall back on your mum or dad. I did not have that. I grew up knowing I had no choice but to succeed. I could not depend on anyone but myself, in fact, my motto in life is: if you think someone has responsibility to take care of your life, you are damning your life. I believe you do not always have to have the answer, you just have to dream and then do something. One of my favourite books is The Alchemist, and it teaches that forces of nature conspire to help you when you make a decision and go out to pursue that decision wholeheartedly. From pushing mkokoteni to carrying water for sale, to working at construction sites... I learnt to survive and earn honourably. I later on graduated to selling hot-pots and other wares in the city. I did not last for long since my desire was in the arts. This led me to the entertainment world where I started out as an actor on stage and later on had a short stint in film. While doing that, I was introduced to the world of advertising as a voice over artist, and this gave birth to my career as a radio news presenter and later on as a TV news anchor.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
That all I am is a presenter and nothing more. People often want to put you in a one dimensional box and leave you there so I have to work extra hard to prove that I am also a businessman.
You left your job as a news anchor on TV a while back, what prompted the move?
I felt that it was time for me to grow, I had been an anchor for a while and the need for change kept clawing at me. It was a great honour to be on Citizen TV television, to have the opportunity to share a message in front of millions of Kenyans, but after that the only question to ask was how did I look and stand? Did I present the question right? I wanted to do more, to be the Martin Luther of TV or to have a Mahatma Gandhi impact. I wanted to do real stories that made an impact. I was tired of just having a good show and the false sense of security that comes with that, 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 is gentle but ruthless - qualities you need in a mentor. Further, I have always been interested in business and my desire was to see journalism as a business and to explore that dimension. I am now a director at WTV. I also run a PR company - Royal Voice International, and I am also interested in getting into waste management, renewable energy and water management.
Do you have any regrets?
None, there is nothing like starting something new in the market, it is the first purely business Kenyan channel on TV. I get the chance to be the player and not pawn, players sit at the point of making a difference, and that is what I wanted for my life. It is a national TV station that provides solutions through strategic partnership, while creating community sustainability. It focuses on SMEs, entrepreneurship, and business. It showcases what is breaking through, rather than what is breaking down.
Tell us a little about your family life?
I have been married to my wife Kendi now for six years and we have been blessed with two children. What I can tell you is that marriage is a place of self-knowledge. It takes a lot of discipline and self-control, ego has no place in the institution of marriage.
What in your opinion is the secret to a happy marriage?
When choosing someone to marry, looks should not be at the top of one’s list... of course it is what attracts you to a woman or man but it is not what will make a great marriage. What happens if your spouse loses their good looks because of a health condition or accident, does it mean a marriage is over? My wife is the best gift God has given me; she is not superficial, she is real. When I am up, she is there for me, and when I am down she is also there for me. Also as long as we remain in God, our marriage will be sustained.
What made Kendi the one?
She was whole when I met her, she had self-worth and self-esteem that was very attractive; her decision to be with me was a choice and not a need. Plus, we connected, there is something about the conversations that we had, when we talked about goals it was at the centre of God’s purpose.
How do you keep the relationship going in the right direction?
Communication is key. We go out for a walks or to eat out and just talk. Life sometimes gets busy and often you forget to talk and spend quality time with each other.
What do you believe is your role as a father?
I have a son who is five and a daughter who is ten months. My duty as a father is to love my son and daughter, if I love them and believe in them then I have done my job, because if they are loved they will grow up believing they can do the impossible. I want to raise children who have the opportunity to redefine the future of this country. We as parents were born at a certain level, but that does not mean that our children should remain there, so we must guide them as parents to an even greater level.
Disclaimer!!! This article was first published on Eve Woman Magazine in June 2016
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