Chasing Golden Dreams
With Nairobi Book Fair on, TONY MOCHAMA went on a quest for a guest who has criss-crossed the worlds of the page and screen comfortably; and found it in the unlikely figure of Dr Alfred Mutua
When the sun sets on the city, Dr Alfred Mutua leaves the world of KICC behind him and chases the sunset towards Lavington in Nairobi. He may ride the wind, view life as a breeze and never catch the midnight sun – but this is one Pulsater who has certainly caught up with his dreams.
His Golden Dreams, housing both the film company and Passion magazine, is both gritty and serene – as reflected by the gravel driveway and lush gardens. Gritty and serene –would also be apt to describe Dr Alf, whose latest venture is How To Be Rich in Africa, is a guide to any real and practical hustler out there.
A relaxed Alfred Mutua outside his office in Lavington
In Dr Alf’s office hangs the poster of a film he shot in the Middle East titled, And the Desert Smiled. It could be an analogy for his own life, seeing as he was born into a ‘desert’ (Ukambani is close to one). Playing in the dusty grounds, he’d look at the airplanes flying above, leaving contrails of jet stream behind, and say to his mom "One day, I’ll fly overseas."
Dr Alf’s key of success is simply this – "Start, and then accomplish, tasks!" It’s really that simple.
As young people, we often have the sense of limitless time ahead of us, but Dr Alf recommends starting to make one’s dreams reality today. He had a friend with whom they registered their dream company just out of teenage. Sadly his pal passed on a few years ago in Basra. One of Dr Alf’s favourite quotes, to beat fear of failure, is "we’ll be dead for a long time."
For all his versatility, Dr Alf does not believe in being a ‘jack of all trades, and master of none.’ And, lets face it, those hustlers (jerks) who try multiple biasharas, and their fingers in every pie, seldom go far.
Skill and discipline are two things that sport taught the Government Spokesperson, and down at Riruta Satellite, he started off as a football goalkeeper. To date, Dr Alf is still a huge fan of ‘the beautiful game’, and refuses to play golf, even as a networking option.
"I don’t remember us ever making small balls, then using sticks to whack them into holes," he explains, with a cheeky smile. "Afadhali kucheza bano!"
His real sports, though, turned out to be the martial arts, he discovered aged nine. "I discovered karate, then shotokan, then jujitsu, then tae kwon do, then tempo kung fu!" In Cobra Squad, the series he scripts and directs, he choreographs the fight scenes himself, and has even stood in as a stunts-master. "My favourite films are the James Bond series," he chuckles. "I have the entire collection, right from Dr No."
High school hustler
Dr Alf was first in Dagoretti, renown for its production of artistes, then in Jamhuri High School for his ‘A’ Levels. While in Dago High, he got into the poetry, debate and theatre clubs, ‘mostly because this was a guaranteed way to go for outings at girls’ schools,’ he says, with a twinkle in the eyes.
By the time he got to Jamu, the creativity there typically morphed into comedy, high style, and they invented ‘nonsense news.’
In Jamu, Dr Alf and his jolly lot also organised variety shows, dancing competitions and led the "Mama Milka" heckling squads at Rugby games.
On risk taking
Dr Alf believes that, to succeed, every young person needs to take a gamble, once in a while. ‘Not foolish and reckless risks, but something out of the box of conventionality.’ A trip from Nairobi to Harare in 1999, just before he turned thirty, turns out to be the ‘best decision he ever made.’
To cut a long film-like narrative short, Dr Alf got busted by cops in Lusaka, Zambia, for ‘filming without permission,’ mugged in Livingstone, Zimbabwe, and almost missed an ‘Harare-Sydney’ flight, but caught all that drama on film, turned it into a documentary, which got him a job, and so on.
"If not for that crazy trip, I wouldn’t be here, or where I am, today," he reiterates.
"The world won’t discover your talent if you sit at home. Get out there, be on the radar, volunteer, do things, knock on opportunity’s doors, and even its windows get open." Dr Alf adds, "Young people today send out ten CVs, and pat themselves on a job well done." In Australia, he once send out a thousand CVs – and had jobs still chasing him, six months down the line. His logic being, "only one out of ten proposals you chase ever pans out, so if you send one?"
Haters and Tolstoi
Alf does not have much time for naysayers and critics, or who we call haters. He says, "There are people who are born to discourage and rubbish others. As soon as you start defining yourself, you set yourself apart from others. Envy and jealousy are automatic reactions by ‘losers,’ especially those who haven’t done much with their lives, and aren’t willing to put in that extra kick to do much." He counsels to ignore these types, and "focus on taking the hill." Humility and being generous to others, too. He truly despises Kenya’s land grabbers, and feels the Government hasn’t cracked down as hard on the corrupt who ‘ruin the future of the Pulse generation.’
Quoting Russian writer Lev Tolstoi, Dr Alf concludes: "After all, in the end, all the land a man needs is six feet long, by three feet wide and six feet deep … to be buried in!"
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