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I nearly lost myself when I lost my grandad - Sean Andrew Kibaki

 Sean [Photo: Courtesy]

When Sean Andrew Kibaki was in his teens, losing his maternal grandfather set him into depression and he almost committed suicide.

Now, at 25, having built his own brand as a social media marketer and vlogger, the shy psychology student opens up to Vivianne Wandera about what life was like when his paternal grandfather Mwai Kibaki was president, the high profile romantic relationship that ended in public and why he quit modeling.

Who is Sean Andrew

I’m a simple guy. Even though I’m very shy, I am an actor, a model and a social media marketer. I made my acting debut last year in a play called ‘The Money That Made Him Poor’, at the Kenya National Theatre. I’m also a student at the United States International University, studying psychology. I enjoy playing golf, I’m not a great cook but I can make a mean salad.

What was life like for you being the president’s grandson?

Life was normal for me. It wasn’t anything like what people made it look. I was raised to be very modest. I thought I would get through my academic life without people finding out but that didn’t happen. There are many people who find out things about you and start to treat you differently but to my friends, I was still the same person.

Why did you study psychology?

Growing up, I was obsessed with being an architect but I didn’t get the right marks for me to do architecture so I settled on psychology because of past experiences. When I was younger, I would see some parents taking their children to churches or correctional facilities just because the children had mental problems, or they were bipolar.

I was also bullied a lot in school and I didn’t have anyone to talk to and the fact that I went through depression that I almost took my own life. Such things are what motivated me to be a psychologist because I wanted to be able to help people with mental health problems.

You’ve talked about going through depression, what happened?

I have struggled with mental health issues and depression in the past. I have lost people close to me and the fact that I was bullied a lot contributed to the depression that I went through. When I lost my maternal grandfather when I was 13 years old, I went through depression and it got so bad that I wanted to take my life at some point.

My grandfather was my rock. He was my everything and my best friend. He was the only person I felt safe with. After his death, so many people started taking advantage of me and I became so paranoid over a lot of things.

This was the first time I was alone and it was hard. Being in that place where I had a lot of things bottled up in me and given the fact that I was almost kidnapped when I was a kid, being bullied and now I had lost the only person I was close to, it sent me to a dark place.

How did you get out of this?

It took many years of getting help and soul-searching. Every time I tried to take my life, I’d think about the people I had come to love and what I’d leave behind and at what cost. I’m a selfless person and even when it came to suicide, the people I love came first.

Even though I still struggle with some things to date, I am at a much better place. I quit toxic behaviour like drinking alcohol after I got to the point where I almost became an alcoholic but I am happier now and in a much better place.

Why did you quit modelling?

I quit modelling because I was being body-shamed and because modeling hasn’t quite picked up in Kenya. It is hard to find people who will appreciate your work as a model and pay you what you deserve. Many people body-shamed me on social media and they still do. It is a very difficult thing to have to read such mean comments on your social media account.

You’ve were in a high profile relationship that ended in public. How was this for you and are you seeing someone currently?

Though very public, the relationship was very brief, it lasted about a year. We meet people in life and grow in the process. Sometimes, you find out things about people that push you away but we have both grown a lot as different people since then. I am currently not dating and I’m not actively looking to date. For me, it’s not about money or material things but it’s about how someone thinks and where they want to be in future.

What do you think the future holds for you?

I believe I’d have a bigger voice in future and I’d be able to help a lot of people. I am currently focusing on vlogging and acting which I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Acting gives one an opportunity to be a different person, and to be anyone they want and also to tell other peoples stories. I hope to be more independent in terms of identity in future and for my brand to be bigger and better.

If you were stuck on an island for three months, what three things would you take with you?

I’d take my knife for hunting, my favourite blanket and script so that I can stay entertained.

Is it OK for a newlywed couple to sell wedding gifts that they can’t use or that are duplicated?

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