A matter-of-fact modulated voice is what you are treated to on Hot 96FM every Monday to Friday between 10pm and 12 midnight by the bubbly, charming yet reserved Terry Muikamba.
The Hot Late radio host – a rainbow (I call her a rainbow because she brightens her surrounding, is beautiful yet unassuming to her own ways) – is a complete definition of beauty with brains.
I had a 45-minute conversation with Terry, and it did not take me five minutes into the discourse to know how brilliant she is.
I break the ice with this controversial question: ‘would Terry forgive a cheating man?’
“Never; cheating is the lowest point you can go in a relationship,” she says.
“Cat fighting is even lower than cheating. Why would a woman fight another? The man you love is the one who went with another woman – so he is the one you should be dealing with. I am not going to fight over a man, what do you mean? No, I like my nails clean!” affirms Terry.
Her passion for self, her stance on matters relationship provokes me to ask if she is dating.
“Yes, I am dating. I am very happy in my relationship,” she says.
But in the course of our conversation, Terry confesses that there is something considered important for ladies in our incredibly patriarchal society that she does not know how to do.
“I can’t cook. If I made you tea, it is terrible. My body is built on restaurant food. Even my mum knows. The only thing I can make in this life is a samosa,” she says.
We share a hearty laugh – and now I am certain the ice has melted. We thus resort to a structured interview. Just who is this woman Terry Muikamba?
“I am the first born in a family of three children (two girls, one boy). I was raised in Kiambu, but later moved to Nairobi. Being a first born some of the relatives I could look up to are my parents, aunts. So, I put a lot of pressure on myself to grow up a better person,” she says, adopting a more serious yet recollective tone.
“My siblings think I am bossy. However, I differ; I think I am an easy person. Growing up, I played a lot of kati, bladaa… I was such a tomboy! Nilikuwa napanda miti ya mapera. A bulk of my friends were predominantly male,” says Ms Muikamba.
“I attended St. James Academy in Kiambu for primary education and later, I went to Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls’ High School (Bee gee). Life was quite hard for me in Bee gee because I had come in from Moi Girls, Nairobi where I used to lead in academics. When I hit the ground running in Bee gee, I realised competition was very stiff. In the first exam that I sat, I emerged position 132 out 187 students. I have never seen my dad so happy in his life. He was like: ‘yes, you were not studying’.”
“I tried joining clubs but I could not. Even to make it to a simple journalism club, I could not because I would be reminded that I am not good enough,” recounts Terry.
“I knew I could always talk. But then, in high school if you tell people you can talk, they’d tell you point blank: ‘everyone else can’. I was the person who teachers never knew because I was never in trouble. I was very quiet but people used to say that I have a diva attitude. I joined music club, did a verse that I went with all the way to the nationals.”
Incredible talent spotted early right there. Did Terry further her giftedness in communication?
“I attended the University of Nairobi, Parklands campus. I studied a bachelor’s course in law. I am a lawyer by profession a radio host by passion. I started out in radio when I was 17. I did a year in radio, and then I joined campus when I was 18; did two years in campus – First and Second Year. I thereafter told my dad that I would no longer continue with law, and that I wanted to study media and communication.
“My dad was like: ‘okay, fine. You go do whatever you want. I left law school, went to Homeboyz Academy, did some radio course; and then after two years of working, I told dad that I am ready to resume my law studies. I went back to UoN law school and finished last year (2015). I graduated in December, 2015.”
Terry is an aficionado of environmental law, “Two years from now, I will pursue law actively. I want to practice environmental law. I am currently enrolled at the Kenya School of Law. I will be done with my course in November, 2016.”
But what would happen to her Hot Late show which has garnered wide-ranging listenership across the country?
“My radio show starts at 10pm. I am left with a whole day to do other things. I feel like if you know you have the capability to do a lot with your life, why not? I feel I would be able to do environmental law during the day and then do my show at night.”
Those who have gotten into contact with Terry would outrightly tell you she is a happy, ever-smiling persona. Lawyers are need I say more, tough, domineering and nerve-racking.
“I never want to have such a serious face! Sometimes lawyers become so unapproachable because of their serious demeanor.”
Terry is in her twenties – she did not reveal to me her age, but I am almost certain my guess is pin-point accurate. She holds a school of thought of what twenties are about.
“When you are in your twenties, it is nice when you get that person. But to be honest, your twenties are about finding out what your twenties are really about; I won’t encourage a 21-year-old to be so strict on matters life. They are about finding out what matters in life and what does not. There is no compromising in the twenties. When someone is not treating you right, move on.”
Terry’s life highlight has been 2016.
“I got to travel to Europe. It was eye-opening to me; it made me view life completely differently. I got to interact with people who think completely differently about life.
“When I was really sad about things was this year (2016) in Europe when one lady looked at me. I was right behind her. She grabbed her bag. She thought I was going to steal something from her. I was so sad. I was really confused on why she did that. But it hit me later – that I was African. Racism is real!”
“I love going to the helipad. I hate football, but I love Manchester United. I love the club because many people love the club. I like going to the movies, but the weird thing is I can’t go to a movie with anyone. I don’t understand how a movie date works for couples, because you cannot even talk to each other when watching a movie.”
Before I called the interview a wrap, a few questions on the card sprung to the fore of my mind.
Just how will Terry Muikamba raise her son?
“I assume I will have a very good man for a son. I will tell him to respect women. I want him to be half the man my dad is. My dad is the perfect example of what I want in a man,” she says; and about her daughter? “I want my daughter to have a mind of her own, to learn that she is the one who will determine how people treat her by how she treats herself.”
Terry Muikamba’s priceless advice to young talents who are in the process of nurturing their radio talent: “Radio is about passion. It is a skill. You cannot join radio if you don’t love the art because you are supposed to do it every day, come with fresher content each hour. Be patient with yourself.”
And oh, lest I forget; just like many, Terry shrubs too.
“My most embarrassing moment on air is when I shrub. I cannot say the word railway line on air. My key highlight on air is when someone calls me or texts me and says: ‘Terry, you really inspire me.’”