We all know him as that Citizen TV presenter with a unique voice. He has done uncountable voice overs and recently became the face of Pan Africa Life in their ‘That Makes Sense’ campaign.
It turns out he has a very interesting story.
He grew up in Kibera where he was exposed to vices such as pornography, but somehow, he managed to reach where he is.
In 2011, he told his story to Turning Point, and here it is.
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. My name is Johnson Mwakazi. I am a television anchor here in Nairobi, Kenya, but my journey started here in Kibera.
“I was born in Kibera that’s where I have lived all my life.”
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 – we had to buy. Just once a week –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 don’t know who you’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. It’s a church located at the city center. And people would wonder, “How do you live in a slum and you go to church every Sunday at the city center?” 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. Now one thing changed in my life, when I was still in pornography and masturbation, it was basically a matter of, “I just hope nobody comes to the realization that I do this.”
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, “God remove this, remove this from me.”
But God had to bring me to a moment of stillness. In my spirit I heard a very still, small voice saying, “I love you. I love you.” And that came as a powerful message into my life. And God was telling me, “I was with you every second of that life, I was with you. And even right now I am with you.”
I remember He told me, “Give it 3 months. It’s like fasting. Don’t go to certain places, don’t watch these things.” And most of the times I would go to church. When it got to evening I would go home and I would be with my family. Well, of course, later on there were times I went down again, but God didn’t come in like, you know, “What are you doing!” It was a moment of, “Just get up, my son. Let’s continue on with the race.” He was leading me on. And all the time when I felt I’m going to go down, I would say, “No, I can’t sin against my father who loves me.” It wasn’t like I can’t do this because I fear Him, but I can’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, I was given a role as a narrator. So I narrated and after that, the facilitator of the program said, “Wow, you have a great voice.” And that really gave me that feeling that, “Hey, you have something to offer, something precious.” And that was actually the beginning.
God would wake me up at about 5:30 on a daily basis and I didn’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 — I’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 didn’t know, but now I look back and I see, “Wow, God was working with me.” 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, “Hey, Johnson. Hey!” 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, “If you humble yourself you will be lifted,” God will lift you up. 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, “Not unto me, oh Lord, but only to you.” And I realize my purpose, that I was created to reflect the Glory of God.