Former homeless youth sets up online radio station
Timothy Kimathi established Mizizi Africa Radio to market and play music by homeless people in the country.
Timothy Kimathi’s story is a living proof that one’s destiny is not intertwined with his past.
Born in a family of five, Kimathi lived a normal life until the unexpected happened. His parents separated and in an instant he became homeless, forcing him to go to the streets to survive.
“Life became unbearable. It was extremely hard for me. I did not have money and I was forced out of school.
I could go days without eating food. I didn’t know that my life would turn upside-down and find myself on the streets,” said Kimathi.
He had lived on the streets from the age of 19 and had to battle with a life full of mishaps.
Born in Meru, Kimathi came to Kangemi in Nairobi immediately after his parents separated in 1996 and together with his siblings they were forced to fend for themselves.
According to Kimathi the separation forced his mother to move away and the only option they had was to run away as their dad was also not welcoming to them.
“After mum ran away, our dad started to became wild towards us, he could tell us to move out of his home.
He even started threatening us to a point we just decided to run away around May in 1996,” said Kimathi.
But as they say, it’s only God who holds one future, Kimathi’s tough street life turned into a blessing in disguise for him.
He is a talented singer and song writer, but lacked the platform to share inspiring messages he penned while on the streets.
The songs he composed then helped him keep away from vices and gave him hope for a better tomorrow.
He reckons that if had found a way to commercialise his talent, he would turn around his misfortunes.
“I did all types of odd jobs to make ends meet, but things were not working. One day, a vase-maker next to the highway took me in and I became his employee. That was my first leap from abject poverty,” he added.
One day in 2019, he met a well-wisher in Kangemi who offered to take him to college to pursue Bible Studies.
“It is at the Bible College that I met a friend who was also talented like me and we decided to do gospel songs together,” he says.
The two, formed Mizizi Muziq which, Kimathi, referred to by his stage name as Lil-Tim, says is a vehicle that will help give street children a platform to explore and market their talents to the world.
Mizizi Musiq, he says, is a social good and talent development unit that fosters sustainable growth for local artists
The unit is fully sponsored by Mizizi Africa Homes as part of their initiative to give back to the community.
The outfit helps talented but needy artists to record their songs, link up with professional music advisers, promoters and mentors who will guide their musical journey to success. It also pays these artists as they are also included in the marketing team.
“If you go to the streets you will meet a lot of talented guys, but these people don’t get a chance to showcase their talents. Most media stations don’t take these talents seriously. They only promote the celebs,” he says.
To affirm their determination to transform the lives of street children, Kimathi together with his friend, George Mburu have now come up with an App, Mizizi Africa Radio to help artists market their songs to the youthful market and the world.
Available on both Google Play Store and App Store, Kimathi said the online radio will be spreading wings as they will have sermons from street children.
“We have waited a lot to see if the government will come through, but we have not seen any support.
As young people we have decided to take over this conversation and we will commit everything to support street people,” said Mburu.
Over 30 gospel songs have been uploaded on the platform. It includes their first five track album, Umbali Huu featuring Top G (Mburu) and Lil Tim.
Other songs are Yesu ni Nani, Mkristo Bandia, Role Model and Tamaa that seek to push their message of hope and revival.
Mburu said they will soon launch Mizizi TV with content done exclusively done by street families to promote local content development and prepare them for the opportunities in the growing film industry.
The 2019 census indicates that Kenya has 46,693 street families and continues to increase each year.
Last year, the government embarked on the process of validating a draft policy to deal with street families menace which some people have partly turned into a cash cow.
Lack of a legal framework has been blamed for the influx of street families in Kenya.