Kevin Sitati, an associate Pastor at Deliverance Church Saika, spoke to Turning Point about his difficult upbringing and the odds he had to beat to become a corporate manager.
Briefly introduce yourself.
My name is Kevin Ngeywa Sitati. I’m 39 years old. A husband to one wife; Grace. A father of three; two girls and one boy (Blessy 10, Angel 5, and Kibali-Junior 1 month old). I’m an associate Pastor at Deliverance Church Saika, on Kangundo Road Nairobi Eastlands. I’m the fourth born in a family of eight.
What was your experience growing up, and how did it shape your life?
My childhood life was relatively hard. Our home was more of a training centre than just a place to live. I was born on December 11, 1983, in Bungoma county in Lutonyi village. I grew up in a polygamous family set up where both families lived on one homestead. We lived almost like a single unit and with the number we were, this came with its own package of challenges. We had to grapple with the scarcity of resources from food, money for school, and so we grew up with a survival-for-the-fittest kind of mentality. I attended Kimilili RC Boys but later transferred to Kimilili FYM primary school. My mother was the headteacher of the school. I later joined Chesamisi Boys high school in 1999 and stayed with my uncle who was a teacher in the same school. Back at home, my father owned a photo studio in Kimilili town, he also practiced small-scale farming and was also in the matatu business. My siblings and I inherited our father’s guitar-playing talent at an early age, and this made the church an interesting place not to miss.
How was life after school?
I managed a C+ in high school and with the help of my uncle, I secured a chance at Kenya Polytechnic now the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) where I pursued a Diploma in Applied Biology and later followed it up with a Higher Diploma in the same field. Most of the time lunch was a luxury. For me to manage it, there was a woman who used to hawk chapati and juice in school at lunchtime. I offered to help her sell and in return, she would give me a chapati or two and juice for lunch. This was a good deal. However, I worked hard on my academics since my uncle who was working in a big company had promised that if I did well, he would help me secure a place there. This was my greatest motivation.
What did you do next?
After five years of diploma and higher diploma, the big job didn’t come as expected. Unfortunately, the course I had done was not as common then as it is now, so most places you would seek a job they didn’t understand where you would exactly fit. So I began to seriously tarmac since I was no longer staying with my brother. One day a friend who I used to train guitar, requested me to accompany him to see a lady who used to buy clothes from him in Nairobi.
When we got to her house in South B, the lady kept on apologising to us that the house was dirty because the house help had left. I saw this as an opportunity for a job and so requested that she could let me in as a house boy. She first did not think I could manage; however, she gave me the benefit of doubt and asked me to begin a few days. That’s how I landed the job as a house boy. I was not residing there, so I could only go three days a week with a start-off salary of Sh300 a day. She later agreed to increase it to Sh400.
At what point did you begin to see transformations in your life?
While working as a houseboy, I got an opportunity through a friend to play the keyboard for a certain preacher who was from the US. Later, I began to offer private piano and guitar classes. After a year I got a job at a pharmaceutical company and this was the beginning of an illustrious career in the industry. Through a member of the youth group in our church, I got a teaching job in a secondary school at Kayole’s Mihang’o area. Soon after, I got a job as a microbiologist and went up the ranks, getting better jobs in other companies. In religious circles I was promoted to be a pastor in our church overseeing the youth and the worship team.
What is your parting shot to people going through challenges?
Life is like a buffet. It will serve you all types of meals on the table. It’s upon you to know what to pick and what to leave. What you consume from it will determine if you live a successfully healthy life or a defeated one.