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Mentoring people helped me find my voice- former vixen turned gospel artist, mentor Roz Haki

 Roz Haki

Former video vixen Roz Haki became a motivational speaker, Gospel singer, mentor and founder of Faiward Mentorship after she emerged a victor despite her tumultuous life experiences. She now encourages others to triumph over life’s storms.

As she staggered towards the door and fumbled with a non-existent door handle, she realised she didn’t know where she was.

Her head felt heavy and she felt pain all over her lower body. She summoned all the energy she could to instruct her legs to move because she was in so much pain.

She tried to remember what had happened the previous night but she couldn’t. As the horror of what could have happened dawned on her, she looked down at her torn clothes and then her bare thighs. The dried blood between her legs just spelled it out.

Suddenly it all came flooding back to her. She had been sexually assaulted by someone she knew. 

As 30-year-old Roz Haki narrates her ordeal during her interview with Eve, tears flow from her eyes.

“I had been invited to a baby shower the previous day. I was eager to attend it because there was a famous Ugandan musician scouting for dancers at the event. The surprising thing is that I didn’t see any pregnant woman during the baby shower,” Roz narrates.

“At some point during the party, someone handed me a cup of juice. Shortly after, I left the drink unattended as I went to the loo then innocently took a gulp of the drink when I came back. Suddenly, I started feeling dizzy and I was guided to a bedroom by a pair of strong manly hands,” she continues. “He started to undress me and I shouted as I tried to resist but no one came to help me. “Eventually, the effect of the drugs kicked in and I blacked out.”

Later, just as she stirred back to consciousness and started to remember what had happened, Roz narrates that the same man who had guided her into the room walked back in and handed her a Sh200 note.

“Go and buy P2, I don’t want any messes,” he said. Roz says at the time, she didn’t really know about Postinor 2, the emergency contraceptive the man was referring to. But before she could even ask any questions, the man ushered her out of his house.

Humble beginning

Rose ‘Roz Haki’ Mwihaki, was born and partly raised in Nyeri. Her father worked in the military so he lived in one of the Army barracks in Nairobi while her mom lived with Haki and her siblings in the rural area.

“During that time, it was a privilege when one of your parents worked in the capital city. I was treated like a queen by my peers back in the village,” says Roz.

Eventually, her dad relocated the family to Nairobi’s Eastlands area. However, the transition wasn’t smooth for young Roz.

“I was around 12. I was naïve as I carried the same mindset that I had in Nyeri. When I was enrolled in the new school, everything changed,” she narrates.

Back in the village, most people communicated in Kikuyu. Even when people spoke English or Kiswahili, they all sounded the same so she didn’t notice the mother tongue influence – and neither did she know that she had any herself.

“In Nairobi, all the words I pronounced in class were wrong. Whenever I answered a question, my classmates would burst out laughing because they said I was “shrubbing”.  Playing was also a nightmare because I couldn’t grasp the simplest sheng’ words that all children spoke,” Roz says. “I didn’t have any friends. My self-esteem was squashed.”

Roz narrates that she would cry regularly and she often got into fights because she was angry.

“I struggled with self-hate, social withdrawal, and poor academic performance. I would question God, asking him why he created me with horrible language skills. Consequently, I was regularly bullied and my teachers had to intervene,” she says.

Way to freedom

Her way of trying to cope was to avoid other children – which meant being left out of activities like sports and even normal childplay.

“My situation in high school was more or less the same. Even dating was hard. I was raised in a strict Christian home and my dad ran our home like a mini military base,” says Haki.

To stay out of trouble with her dad, she made a vow to herself. “I told myself that I would not have sex before marriage and I would not take alcohol or drugs.”

It was in college that Roz started experiencing a life she enjoyed. “Although I wasn’t allowed to wear trousers at home, I would manage to sneak them into my bags and change into them in a public toilet before traveling to college,” she narrates.

When she started being invited to parties and events, she was excited.

She had always loved singing but she had been afraid to explore her talent. Thanks to her newfound freedom, she rediscovered her interest and ability.

“I gathered enough courage and decided I would record a song to showcase my voice to the world,” she narrates, adding that despite the fact she was confident with her vocal prowess, she visited several music studios but they turned her down for various reasons.

Crowd dynamics

“I didn’t have money so that automatically disqualified me for most of them. One producer called me a shower singer. Another one told me I should do more practice. Others ignored me and a huge number of them just put me in compromising situations,” Roz narrates, admitting she finally gave up and forgot about a singing career.

“One day I accompanied a friend for the Florida 2000 Jam Session that used to be held in town. During the show time, I registered myself for dancing. When I hit the dance floor, the crowd went wild and the people in the crowd kept handing me cash. The DJ had to cut my session short but I managed to get Sh3,025. That is when I realised I had a dancing talent,” she says.

Roz decided to go back to the studios and pitch her idea of dancing in music videos. That is how she was absorbed into one of the most popular recording studios in Kenya as a video vixen.

“I got the opportunity to dance for Kenrazy, P-UNIT, Avril, Trapee, Nonini, Jomino, and several other renowned artists,” Roz says.

But with her newfound career came the party life. Despite the fact that she wasn’t drinking, she would hang out with a wild crowd and dress provocatively.

“I even joined Sarakasi Dancers (a popular acrobatics and dance troupe) for some time but I was still in college so I left because of the demanding practice regime,” she says. Roz also became a celebrity in her own measure and it was the order of the day to see her in entertainment magazines.

“I used to be known as Licious from bootylicious within the dance circuit because of how I would gyrate my waist,” says Roz adding that she took her celebrity status a notch higher by compiling all the videos she was featured in into a single DVD and selling it to make extra cash. “It circulated around our home area fast and my father got wind of it.”

Running away

All this time Roz had managed to dance without the knowledge of anyone in her family. “I had lied to my family that I had classes the whole day and yet my classes (she was studying to be airline cabin crew) only took two hours,” she confesses.

When her dad saw the dance DVD, he decided to visit the college to confirm if she was attending classes.

“I bumped into my dad on the school corridors after classes and I was dumbstruck. He told me that my lies had come to an end and he would tell me his decision once we reached home. I was grateful that he left me behind and this gave me the opportunity to run away,” Roz says.

Roz says she did not go home that day because of the guilt she felt. Instead, she went to live with a friend in Kibera.

“My mum would send me texts encouraging me to go back home but I didn’t budge because I knew my dad would kill me,” she says. The first born in a family of three resorted to coming home during the day to change her clothes and then she would leave before her parents came home from work.

Blame game



Months later, as Roz recovered from her rape ordeal, she wondered whether the horrifying experience was God’s way of punishing her disobedience.

“I was traumatised. I felt even worse just trying to reconcile the idea that the man who raped me didn’t use protection. Though I was really shaken up, I gathered enough courage to call my cousin who was working at Nairobi Women’s Hospital. She urged me to visit the hospital where I was given post-rape care and counselling.

Roz confesses that she has didn’t report her abuser because she blamed herself and the other guests at the party. “I felt horrible because I had tried to escape a sexually promiscuous life yet I had fallen prey to it and it happened on everyone’s watch,” she says.

Broken, she went back home. “I fell into depression, and I decided to commit suicide. I overdosed on medication, and I felt relieved that I was leaving this world,” she reveals. Luckily someone found her in the nick of time and she was rushed to a hospital.

Struggling on

Although she continued with her video vixen career, she felt a vacuum inside her.

“I felt like the whole industry knew about the abuse and they were secretly celebrating. One day I was walking in town and I heard a song by the late Angela Chibalonza. I felt like God was by my side and I was relieved. Growing up in a strict Christian home, going to church was mandatory. Unknowingly, I had absorbed faith in God and it’s only now that it flooded back to me. I rushed to the store and bought the CD.”

Roz decided to quit dancing and although she got numerous calls for various videos and gigs, she ignored them.

“My mum was worried because I was acting out of character. Eventually, my parents agreed to take me back to school to complete my cabin crew course and I started getting my life back on track,” Roz says adding that when she completed the course, she recorded a Gospel song called “Hakuna Kama Yeye” produced by RKay.

New career

Progressively, Roz started landing shows to perform her Gospel songs. Occasionally, she would share her personal story before performances and it made more impact.

“One day I was performing at Gathirimu Girls and I told the DJ to switch off the music and I shared my story. Judging by the looks on everyone’s faces I knew that my talk had an effect. There were some missionaries from the Netherlands in the crowd and one of them remarked that I am a great motivational speaker,” Roz narrates.

“I had never thought of myself in such terms and that is when I realised my calling. I had been struggling with unemployment for a long time and now a worthwhile chance had opened up. I realised that the best careers are not chosen but are discovered,” she says.

That initial speaking engagement prompted the school to seek her out for a guidance and counseling session. Soon after, she started getting invitations to speak at other schools.

“When the invitations became numerous, I decided to form an umbrella body that would focus on the girl child. By sharing my story, I could create an environment where people opened up about their challenges and how to solve them,” Roz says.

That is how Faiward Mentorship was formed in 2015. During the infancy of the organisation, Roz was still shy and reserved. Faiward, she reveals, is a portmanteau of the words “faith” and “forward”. She says that mentoring people through the organization has helped her find her own voice. 

“My public speaking has made me a better person and by sharing my story, I have managed to encourage people not to give up in life. By nature, I’m an introvert but when I get on stage, I open up. I’ve had to research extensively in order to tackle bigger challenges that face young people,” Roz says.

“I have also found out that the people who need the mentorship may not necessarily have the resources to access it. So under our CSR, we have managed to reach out to some of them,” she says.

Finding a voice

“I used to fear approaching people for my speaking engagements, but I got courage when I realised the worst that could happen is just a no. This made me acknowledge that my services may not be for everyone. I also learned to dress more formally in order to approach schools, institutions, corporate, seminars, and churches,” Roz says.

“When I became confident enough, I approached several schools in Nairobi and they demanded a letter from the Ministry of Education. Although I didn’t have formal counseling qualifications, I approached the ministry. When they asked me for my papers, I furnished them with my cabin crew ones. They questioned my intentions of wanting to be a motivational speaker. I confidently replied that I wanted to inspire greatness in others and they agreed to certify me,” she says.

“Sometimes I face so many challenges and I take a break and run to employment for a couple of months. I have worked as a hotel supervisor, a receptionist, and a merchandiser but I felt those weren’t for me. This is because I didn’t feel the fulfillment mentorship gave me,” Roz concludes.

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