Last year started on a rather scary note. My friend and I, en route to catch the fireworks and join other friends in celebrating the beginning of a new year, were robbed by a group of unruly guys. As expected, starting the year on such a horrible note shook me so much so that before I turned in for the night, I whispered to the universe: I don’t want much this year. All I ask is not to be robbed again. Little did I know a new virus in China would knock the world off its axis and make mincemeat of 2020.
After Kenya announced its first covid case, which led to the closing of schools and businesses like the radio studio where I worked, life as I knew it paused under lockdown.
With no source of income and access to reliable internet connection, my social life shrivelled. I became depressed and started taking short walks around the neighborhood to clear my head. And when lockdown eased, I took to visiting neighbours and friends who helped pull me out of the funk. In sharing their own experiences, I realised I wasn’t the only one having it rough. Also, it was cathartic talking through my own issues with them.
In the interim, I found comfort in singing and writing, an activity that propelled me to start a radio show. Armed with just my laptop and voice, I found a studio to record nine music playlists and review music by up and coming Kenyan musicians. As more new artists sent in their recordings to broadcast, my audience grew weekly, a rather pleasant surprise considering the competitive nature of Kenya’s radio broadcasting industry and its fickle listeners. As such, I’m optimistic about my budding platform which I intend to use as a stepping stone to a career in the industry.
In many ways, building the foundations of my radio career in a time when life has given nothing but lemons is challenging as much as exhilarating. More importantly, my mental health is better. As I ponder a future in radio, I see possibilities ushered in by a desire to impact lives, especially on the topic of mental health.
As curfew restrictions ease it has become more convenient for me to be able to get to the studio for my recording sessions, I have also been able to network more with people whose interests and mine align and I have actually been able to premiere my show on YouTube for wider reach.
Without a doubt, 2020 presented many challenges, but sparked my creativity in compelling ways that helped find a path through the inconveniences wrought on by the pandemic. Tough times like these really do build or break people. In my case, it brought a whole new perspective on what is most important in life: good health, a supportive community, and unquenchable passion.