Jamal Sheikh Gaddafi, 28, the presenter of KTN entertainment show Mzuqa, is known for his bubbly personality. He tells Caroline Nyanga more about his passion
Most people know you as a television presenter and that’s all. Who is Jamal off TV?
I am humble man with a down-to-earth demeanour. Those close to me say that I can be quite funny. I am a humble man and a loving father and husband who is always focused and on the right track to achieve the best.
You resisted your parents’ choice of career to become a television presenter. What was their reaction?
Initially, they were dumbfounded by my choice of career. My mother, in particular, was not happy with the idea of me pursuing something different from her choice, which was a degree course in business studies. But with time, she understood that this is where my passion lies. They had no choice but to encourage and support me.
Is this what you wanted to do ever since you were a child?
Yes, I used to imitate news anchors Badi Muhsin and Swale Mdoe. When I finished high school at St Mega Secondary School in Kitui, my mother wanted me to pursue a degree course in business studies at KEMU but I opted for a diploma in public relations at Graffin’s College. It was later that I made it known to my parents about my passion in television and went ahead to secure a place at Kenya Methodist University where I pursued a degree in Mass Communication.
Eventually, my parents realised that this is where my passion lay. They were excited to watch me grow into an accomplished entertainment presenter and the fact that I graduated from university was a plus.
What makes you different from the rest?
The fact that I am able to use my platform to make people happy taking them away from heavy politics among other things. I believe I tell it as it is.
With the changing trends in entertainment, I strive not to let my fans down and that is why I give my best during shows. To achieve this, I research wherever I am. I always give my presentation intensity before I step up to the podium. I am a self-conscious presenter with a style that is diverse and original.
Were it not for presenting, what would have you become?
A footballer or cabin crew. Other than being an ardent fan of football and a good footballer too, I also love to travel a lot hence the cabin crew factor.
What are some of the challenges you went through or have been through in your career and how did you manage to cope?
I try to view challenges as a way of moulding and preparing me to become a better person. The major challenge I have faced is trying to make everyone happy, which is impossible.
At end of the day no matter how hard I try, I can never please everyone. There are those who are bound to hate or say negative things about me.
Your most memorable moment as a presenter?
The episodes I used carry out on the streets to try to help upcoming artists by according them a platform on my show to showcase their talent to the world is the best I have achieved in my career.
What of the lowest - when you actually ‘failed’ as a presenter?
When I initiated a youth show that involved the honourable (Members of Parliament, MCA’s and Women Rep from various parts of the country) with me as the moderator.
Despite having begun on a high note, having shot seven episodes where the youth engaged their leaders in matters of development and youth matters, I couldn’t do a full season because the honourable members were afraid to come to the show.
I felt bad because I wanted the show to be a platform for the youth and be a watchdog for the politicians – something that never bore fruit.
Seeing where you have come and where you are at the moment do you think you have made it?
I believe there is still room for growth in becoming the best version of myself. This aside, I have improved all around as far as presenting is concerned. When I first started I just wanted to present, but I didn’t know much about anything so I did what I heard other presenters were doing.
I couldn’t really be myself because I didn’t have a well-thought-out and clear direction. Now, I know a lot more and I am more confident in my ability to not only present but to pitch out for the best ideas that have augured well with my viewers.
Other than being a TV presenter what else do you do?
I emcee for events. Whenever I am free, I love to play football using play station or watching Premier League alongside my son.
Once in a while, I don’t mind doing movies - mostly adventure and horror. I also value my family a lot in particular my sisters who are a great part of me.
In 2007, bloggers reported that you quit your job to join politics?
Being a public figure, there are a section of people who are bound to say anything about you as long as they are able to make a living or a name out of it. One thing I know is that backbiters will always remain in their position as I am happy to be in front of them.
What does originality mean to you?
Originality simply means the ability to think and act on your own, the ability to create content that describes a person mostly it’s like a form of identity. Most people think originality is easy, but I think it’s actually really hard, and when you find it, it’s really valuable.
Tell us more about your parents...
My dear mother -- she’s my role model. She inspires and motivates me to grow without any barriers. I celebrate her all the time. There is no one like Mama. Whenever I look at her I see an extraordinary person who will go at any lengths to ensure that what she does turns out to be divine and the reason of my smile. My dad too is my source of inspiration.
Being in a career where many believe it’s hard for one to settle what is your take?
The choices you make in life determine who you become in the future. I try not to be swayed by the things or people I see no matter what because I strongly believe that at the end of it all, my family will always be there for me no matter what. If you must know, I have a lovely wife with whom we have a son, who is 28 months old and a second baby is on the way.
With your sense of fashion, you are sure to have a following of female fans, how do you handle them?
I adore and appreciate them as my fans because they have made me who I am today. But this aside, they respect the fact that I am committed to my family so it’s really not hard to handle.
Fashion has always been a big part of me. I believe it’s good to treat yourself well. I love fashion and trends. That is part of my personality.
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