She is bubbly, upbeat and adorable.
Additionally, Kalekye Mumo is ambitious and she is not afraid to ask for and pursue what she wants.
Ms Mumo has now ventured fully into public relations business. She recently put up her own PR company, and she is keen to see the firm succeed in a market quite infested by companies that have withstood the test of time. Now, that is courage!
She sat down with eDaily’s Brian Okoth and divulged expansively details of her life.
The fourth born in a family of five grew up in Westlands area of Nairobi – and says despite being raised in the surbaban setting, she enjoyed every bit of her childhood and she recounts interacting extensively with her colleagues.
“I played several games when I was little. We called the infamous cha mama na cha baba playing house. Most of my neighbours were Asians or whites. When I was little, we did not segregate ourselves along racial lines. In fact my immediate neighbours were Asians and we would hang out at each other’s houses like you can’t believe,” Kalekye begins her 30-minute interview with this writer.
Growing up in a well-knit setting that was not severed by tribe, race or social status, Kalekye says her heart tears apart when she sees the nation split along divergences of colour, ethnicity and economic status.
“It hurts me!” she says. “I did not choose to be born Kamba for example, I did not choose to live in Nairobi for example. And it is not because of my decision; it just so happened that’s how God blessed me. And God made all things different.”
According to Ms Mumo, ethnicity is a product of enculturation – and that to fight the “plague”, 20th century generation through to generation Z should embrace unity and learn from the negative consequences of tribalism that crippled Kenya in 2007 through 2008.
“The moment you have that tribal thing in you, somebody put it there. And it was there in our forefathers because of the things that happened in their time and it has made it even more difficult. But we have integrated; we have gone to school with all sorts of people. For me that should be a sign to say: ‘I should not be carrying that weight at all, considering that I went to school with all sorts of people from all over Kenya and other parts of the world’,” she says.
Mbooni Girls High School alumnus
“I attended Loreto Convent Msongari to Form One. My mother thereafter felt that I needed to get some grounding; that I needed to be serious; she thought I had done enough plays and music. She did not know that would be my life anyway. And so, I went to Mbooni Girls’ High School from Form Two to Form Four. There is where I got to learn sheng’. I had to survive. Where I grew up, we did not communicate in sheng’. We’d rather speak in Kiswahili sanifu, Kamba or English.”
And about her experience at Mbooni Girls’: “It made me tough! It was quite the experience. The schools in Ukambani are hardship! When they say there are water problems, it is real! I ate githeri every lunch time of my life.”
Being a radio presenter was her childhood dream
“From when I was young, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be inside the radio industry. I did not know the broad description of media. Back then, there were not so many places offering communication studies. My parents knew Mambo Mbotela, Catherine Kasavuli… according to them, they thought media personalities were just jokers who read news and played music for fun. It is a generation – my dad is 80 and my mum is 70. For that generation, what are you telling them?” she poses.
“There was that difficulty in convincing them to support my dream in pursuing media. However, once you have finished the part that they are involved, which is paying for school fees, you can go do what you want,” she says, before adding: Kama utakula mchanga, utakula tu!
“It wasn’t about them, it was about me – an adult who has an ID card; and she also has her degree – which I did not want, but hey: I passed! I pursued a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States International University (USIU).”
She mirrors her name – “Kalekye”
“When I have decided I want something, I go for it; full one hundred. It may take me time to make the decision, but once I have made the decision I go with it.
“Apparently, that attribute comes from the name Kalekye. Kalekye loosely translated, means let go. If I have decided that I am going left, just let me go left, please. Don’t tell me ‘we go right’. I don’t jump into decisions very loosely. I am a very careful person, hence the recurrent drama I used to have with Shaffie.”
Her parents approve of her – today
Kalekye Mumo’s parents did not want her to pursue the “joke” that is radio presentation. However, she persisted, marched on and remained focused on her goal. Today, nearly the whole world celebrates her – and so are her parents.
“Oh man! You know how you have come from like a ka-place where they did not want you to do it, then now they become your biggest fans?” she poses as she pauses with a sparkle in her left eye, and continues:
“To the point where… do you know how awkward it is for your own mum to be introducing you like: ‘and this is Kalekye Mumo…’ I tell her: ‘No, I am Kalekye your child!’ That has been weird. How they show pride in what I have achieved is amazing, my dad is like my biggest fan. He watches, listens and reads everything that I could possibly be involved in.”
And her advice to parents: “When your child knows what they want, you can guide them. Always be there for them. You know what: sometimes if your child makes a wrong decision and stumbles, be there to hold them. You can’t help them if you are not there by them as they make that decision to do what they want to do.”
About losing 40kgs in 8 months
“My weight loss journey has taught me that you can do anything you put your mind to. If I say that I am going to make it with my PR company, no matter how scared I am, no matter how many things I am not sure of; if I put my mind to it and go for it, and follow the direction with my whole heart, I can make it.
“And to imagine I could follow simple eating habits; and then I could lose this much weight, It is about the mind. The biggest change of losing that weight: one is the craziness of how quickly your clothes start to become big; and more so, people’s reactions, you know. At some point you are just going about your life, and you reach a certain kiwango and say: ‘okay, I know I have lost weight this much and everybody is shocked’. Then I am left wondering how big I was?” she says.
And she enjoys advantages that come with being less weighty.
“Now I can sit in a certain way. I can cross my legs the way I want; that was almost impossible some time back. I can now sleep and not be very tired when I wake up. When you are heavy sometimes your sleeping becomes really tiring on your back and when you are breathing. And you can’t work long hours. When I was weightier by 1 o’clock I wanted to kill people, I wanted to go back home and sleep,” she says.
“Now I wake up at 3:45am and I won’t sleep until 9pm or 10pm. And that would be after I have done everything that I wanted to do. That is because I am lighter and I have more energy.”
I ask if she wishes to lose more weight and after a short pause, Kalekye Mumo says: “I am not sure if I want to get lighter than this.”
Learnt wifely attributes on air
“I learnt wifely tendencies when I was hosting breakfast show alongside Shaffie Weru at Kiss FM…like when you are dealing with a man, he has to think he is the one in control of everything for anything to work, hence you are the neck and he is the head – you turn him. He does not need to know that you are turning him.
“I also learnt to be patient – understanding that a man is more sensitive than he ever wants to look. If you as a woman you are patient enough with those things, all things will come together full circle. I have learnt a lot. It has been ten years with one guy, come on! That’s a marriage,” she says before bursting out in a hearty laugh – typical of Kalekye Mumo.
After a short breathing space, Kalekye Mumo continues: “I will miss Shaffie, I will miss the job. You can’t talk to people and play music and have fun for ten years and stop. It is not easy to switch it off. You are tuned to observing things in a certain way because that is what you’ve done for the bigger part of your life. I am gonna miss doing that more than anything. Whether I get back to doing it or not; it is still optional; you never know. And I am for where God leads me I will go,” she says.
I realise Ms Mumo is spiritual, probably more than how I thought. I am then tempted to pose the question: ‘are you dating?’ But no, that looks so blunt. I then ask her: “Your audiences out there would be interested to know if God has blessed you with a partner…”
“If I say I am not dating, will you hook me up with someone? Really? Where are we going with this?” her series of questions sound intimidating, but again; that is Kalekye Mumo.
“The people who are interested in my response to this question want a wedding as if they will be there, or they will be sharing that room with me – no! But currently I am not dating,” she finally answers.
But what are the attributes that she prioritises in a partner?
“Imagine I want a good human being; imagine the heart matters,” she says in a mellow voice. I note a more reserved version of Kalekye Mumo.
“When you reach a certain age you realise that a good human being is everything – a kind-hearted person, a God-fearing person. Those are the more important things right now because if you start thinking: oh, he should be tall, oh he should be dark… My friend utakufia hapo!” She continues:
“You will get that tall, dark and handsome man and he treats you like crap because his heart is not in the right place. He does not even know God or he is not forward-thinking. He doesn’t imagine that a woman can be strong and still be humble as a wife. A good human being – that is more I ask for,” she concludes in an advisory yet firm tone.
Kalekye Mumo is a blessing, a darling, an inspiration – we celebrate her as our #WCW.