Tell us about yourself.
I'm from Nairobi, Kenya and I’ve got 2 sisters. I used to swim. I was in the Kenyan u13 team and once we came to Cape Town in 2009 but I was very slow compared to everyone in Cape Town. I didn’t win anything but back home in Kenya I was a big deal. I didn’t even take it seriously then because I just thought swimming was fun and my friends were there..
What brought about the decision to come to South Africa?
I was at a British school so when it was time to start applying to universities at the end of high school they focused on taking people out of Kenya. People would apply to universities in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.
Because I was so unmotivated in high school, when the time came for applications I didn’t take it seriously and I just didn’t want to apply anywhere. I didn’t want to take the extra effort to write personal essays and I didn’t want to go to Universities my classmates were going to. I figured that South Africa is decent and not many people were applying to South African universities and it’s not that far from home and it's much cheaper than going to America or the UK.
How was the transition from Kenya to South Africa?
First, it was struggle having to be so far away from home. Sometimes when I go to Rosebank and I see families and I think "If I was in Kenya this would be my mom and my sister." I just miss everyone but I got used to it. I also wanted to break out from home and from being a baby where my mom would take care of me so it was nice having to come out and buy my own toiletries and cook my own food.
Another problem is that of the language barrier where everyone thinks I am South African, so as soon as I go to the airport and someone is speaking to me in Zulu and I’m like "fam, I don’t understand" and they’re like "what do you mean you don’t understand" and I say "I’m not from here. I’m from Kenya, blah, blah, blah". Some of them get touched because once at the train station I was waiting for a cab and I asked this lady something and she replied in Zulu and I didn’t understand. She just walked away mumbling something to herself so I had to ask another lady. It sucks because I genuinely don’t understand as I’m not trying to be ignorant.
Obviously, school is hard but school is hard for everyone so it’s not really a foreign thing. Also worrying about things like getting deported or losing my passport or if something went wrong I would be screwed since there is no one around who can help. I also started being a completely different person when I came here because people in Kenya have this perspective of you and not to say that I was a bad person but it was just nice to start afresh where someone doesn’t know you. It helped me find myself because I am far away from home and if I was back home there are certain things that I wouldn’t be able to do so it’s helped me find out what kind of person I am.
Tell us about Green Sports Africa.
Green Sports Africa is a company my high school friends made in 2012 and I joined in 2013. It’s an organization that aims to bridge the football gap in Africa because we feel that everyone can play football and there are lot of people who want to be professional players but they don’t have the platform to do so in their countries.
In Kenya, you can be good at football but there is no platform for you to play. So if you have money what they do is that they go play in the UK and get into an academy there. People then end up changing their citizenship and playing internationally instead of helping out Kenya. That kid who wants to be the met Ronaldo can be the next Ronald even if he is from the depths of a village in Kenya.
So what we’ve been doing for the past four years is that we have three tournaments a year to promote people playing in the community and to build a good customer base. The first three years we would have 8 to 12 teams in our tournaments. By the end of last year, we had 120 teams participating. This year we moved from Nairobi to two other cities in Kenya. The last one we had in June wasn’t just a Kenyan thing but it was an East African thing because we had a team from Rwanda and they actually won the tournament which was cool. All the scouts watching were from East Africa and some of the players who got scouted are going to play in Tanzania, Egypt, Rwanda, and Kenya. We also have an academy.
Two of the people I work with dropped out of university to focus on it full time and I’m the only one outside of Kenya. I see all that they are doing and I’m in class and I see the minutes of meetings that they have and all the people that they meet and the sponsors that they are speaking to. Even the trips they are going for and I feel like I do not want to be in class right now I want to be there, doing what I want to do in life.
I’m going to make it my full-time job and I do not see myself doing anything else. Whenever I go back and I do Green Sports things I am so happy and I have fun. I love the people that I work with and it's everything I would have wanted in a job. My mum even says that this is going to go somewhere so she is fine with me pursuing it.
When did you start liking football?
My first memory of football was the 2004 FA Cup win. I'm an Arsenal fan by the way. I fell in love with Thierry Henry. I only seriously started following it in 2011 where I would watch every game and I learned more about football. I like sports and I just got into it. It’s also sucky because you get your heart broken. It’s amazing when your team does well, you're generally just so happy so that’s a nice thing.
What is the toughest decision that you have ever had to make?
You know how I was like in High school I wasn’t feeling it? It was depression and I really struggled with it in high school and it was hard because of this mentality black people have with mental problems and I just didn’t understand what I was experiencing and I didn’t know how to speak to someone about it.
Like how do you go to speak to someone about how you are not okay and you are feeling sad no matter what you do. Trying to tell my mum that was hard because she wouldn't understand and that would break my heart even more. I went to go see a psychiatrist and I was on meds but I don’t think it helped me at all. It was just a very dark time in my life and I didn’t want to be alive.
So the toughest thing, but also the best thing, was to just live. Even now it’s still hard, but it’s a bit better than before.
What do you make of African people's view on mental illness?
It’s so unfortunate. I don’t even know how to change people’s mentality but it’s just creating awareness and the people who do know about it should be able to speak about it. I don’t speak about it that much because the people who know that it’s a serious thing should be creating conversations about it and making more people aware.
I still don’t want to speak about, even when I see people on Twitter talking about a mental issue I never retweet or quote or give my opinion. It's unfortunate because I still feel embarrassed that I went and still go through this. I don’t even speak about it to my family members even though they know what I’ve gone through and seen the things that I have done to myself.
The fact that I can’t even speak about it to the people around is just sad. I can’t imagine how other people deal with it. We have to create awareness about it and I should probably start doing it. I think what Kid Cudi did was great because that started something and people are taking it more seriously because it happened to someone we know and we all thought he was okay. It shows that even if you have made it you can still feel that way.
What is the best word in the dictionary?
I really like the word "amazing". I generally like saying the word. It can be used to describe anything good. "Sensational" is also pretty cool.
Describe your version of heaven and hell?
My version of hell would be the world right now. Heaven would be happiness to the point of ignorance. You're just so happy that there is nothing that can even touch you or bring your happiness to a lower level but everyone’s happiness is together so even if someone doesn’t like what you’re doing, they’re just like "whatever".
Do you ever see yourself ever getting to that point of happiness?
Maybe when I’m dead and transgressed into a higher spirit or something. Now, maybe not but you never know because there are people out there who are on 100% level of happiness. Maybe I will If I want to get to that level I need to work harder on myself. I’m slowly getting there.
What are three of your best qualities and three of your worst?
I am a very hardworking person. I want to push myself because I believe I can do anything if I can put my mind to it and put in the effort. I'm determined. Another thing is that I am forgiving. A lot of people have done me dirty but I’m still chilled and I’m not for holding in anger towards another. I also have a good sense of humour.
Bad qualities - I’m very shy. People scare me but I just need to grow up. I’m very bad with money. I’ll just spend money on things I know I shouldn’t be spending money on as a university student. I have expensive taste. I also like my space so much that if I’m chilling in my room and someone calls me I won’t pick up the phone because I don’t want to talk to someone or I’ll say I'm busy studying when I’m not.
3 people who you would invite for dinner?
Donald Glover, my younger sister and someone, I don’t know exactly, who lived back in the day before even white people came to Africa. I'd want to know more about my tribe. My tribe, the Kamba tribe, is one of the undocumented tribes in Kenya and it’s unfortunate that we don’t have that much content on what we know about Kamba’s. There is a lot of content for other tribes and for Kenya in general.
What do you think is the future of African cultures?
It’s better than it was a couple of years ago where now people appreciate their cultures a bit more and they are trying to get more in touch with their roots which is cool. I think because of globalization cultures are going to end up being intertwined with other cultures. Like the way we eat Chinese or Indian food or how we dress the Western way.
It's gonna end up being where people will wanna wear something African and not in an appropriative way but in an appreciative way. There is no way we can say that we are Africa by ourselves. Which is a good thing because it will help us know about our stuff more.
Like in Kenya a lot of people will not study archaeology but you find someone in America who will study it and then they will come and find out about it in Kenya and they will bring up all these things that we didn’t know.
What do you think people think about you when they first meet you?
They think I'm shy, which is fine because I am and lately people tell me that I have a good vibe around me which is what I want. That is something I’ve wanted to give off because I don’t want people to think that I’m mean or sad. They also think that I’m a cool-kid. They also think that I’m chilled and not a dramatic person.
What do you want most in life?
Right now, money. It’s a bad thing to want but I do because money does solve many problems. Obviously, it won’t solve my depression but it will solve many things and it will make me distract myself more in a sense. Maybe that would be destructive for me and maybe it’s good that I don’t have much now.