Many Kenyans know my name; they know face, they know my voice, they know what I do. But to the rest of the world, let me introduce myself.Â My name is Johnson Mwakazi. I am a television anchor here in Nairobi, Kenya, but my journey started here in Kibera.
(Swahili) â€œI was born in Kibera thatâ€™s where I have lived all my life.â€
I grew up without a role model. My father was a drunkard. He lost his job and it was a tight moment especially for my mother, really trying to support the family at the same time working in town as a cleaner.
And living in a mud house, and of course no water â€“ we had to buy. Just once a week â€“you take a bath once a week. When it came to washrooms or toilets, we had to go round and, of course, sometimes during the night it could be dangerous because you donâ€™t know who youâ€™re going to meet along the way, so you had to help yourself inside the house and probably in the morning try to sort it out.
I remember when I was 14, somebody introduced me to pornography and that whole sequence began of desiring a feeling of pursuing something that you really never get to satisfy. I remember there were days I would move from one movie to another just seeking for a movie, a pornographic movie, and it totally disoriented my thoughts or my understanding of really my worth.
My mother took me to All Saints Cathedral.Â Itâ€™s a church located at the city center. And people would wonder, â€œHow do you live in a slum and you go to church every Sunday at the city center?â€ Which basically meant you have to pay your fare. But when I went there I was challenged and I came to realize that there was a different world out there, not just Kibera for me.
I came to give my life to Jesus when I was in secondary school.Â Now one thing changed in my life, when I was still in pornography and masturbation, it was basically a matter of, â€œI just hope nobody comes to the realization that I do this.â€
But when I got saved I came to understand that it was wrong, that it was a sin against God and against my own body. And that prompted me to call upon God and really cry unto God, â€œGod remove this, remove this from me.â€
But God had to bring me to a moment of stillness. In my spirit I heard a very still, small voice saying, â€œI love you. I love you.â€ And that came as a powerful message into my life. And God was telling me, â€œI was with you every second of that life, I was with you. And even right now I am with you.â€
I remember He told me, â€œGive it 3 months. Itâ€™s like fasting. Donâ€™t go to certain places, donâ€™t watch these things.â€ And most of the times I would go to church.Â When it got to evening I would go home and I would be with my family.Â Well, of course, later on there were times I went down again, but God didnâ€™t come in like, you know, â€œWhat are you doing!â€Â It was a moment of, â€œJust get up, my son.Â Letâ€™s continue on with the race.â€ He was leading me on. And all the time when I felt Iâ€™m going to go down, I would say, â€œNo, I canâ€™t sin against my father who loves me.â€ It wasnâ€™t like I canâ€™t do this because I fear Him, but I canâ€™t do this because He loves me.
There was this particular time I remember I was walking and I heard people making cheerful noises, and when I went there I realized it was a theater group, Kibera Community Youth Program, and so I joined it. And there was a time I was given a role, it was a skit I remember, Â I was given a role as a narrator. So I narrated and after that, the facilitator of the program said, â€œWow, you have a great voice.â€ And that really gave me that feeling that, â€œHey, you have something to offer, something precious.â€ And that was actually the beginning.
God would wake me up at about 5:30 on a daily basis and I didnâ€™t quite understand why. And He would cause me to sort of walk all the way up to this place. And when I got here, instead of working out my body, I would work on my voice.
Now I come â€” Iâ€™ve come to realize it was really at that process of fashioning me, because He knew where He was taking me. At that time I didnâ€™t know, but now I look back and I see, â€œWow, God was working with me.â€ God was working on my voice so that He would qualify me to occupy that space in the media world.
Anytime I think about where I came from, I look at myself putting on these good clothes, and I have this publicity when I walk down the streets people are saying, â€œHey, Johnson. Hey!â€ Everybody now knows me. And I remember where God took me. It gives me an opportunity to humble myself, to humble myself. And just as Christ said, â€œIf you humble yourself you will be lifted,â€ God will lift you up.Â That opportunity to humble myself, God uses to teach me His ways. That at the end of the day when glory is given, I say, â€œNot unto me, oh Lord, but only to you.â€ And I realize my purpose, that I was created to reflect the Glory of God.
THE ART OF LIFE BY JOHNSON MWAKAZI.EDITED BY ELIJAH MWANGI