When 22-year-old Isaya Wanjala Bwabi met veteran journalist Alex Chamwada for the first time two years ago, he had just been posted as a security guard at a Kilimani Estate Court where Chams Media has an office.
Bwabi was just a month-old on the job with high hopes of transforming his life and those of his parents and siblings back in the remote village of Chebukutumi, Sirisia Constituency, north of Bungoma County. He was astute in his job, candid as ever, and always alert as is required of all watchmen.
In his vision, the future looked very bright, and he was not wrong! He had barely spent more than three months in Nairobi City and so he was a typical village boy, disciplined and God-fearing, but very daring!
Having lived and tasted the real and hard village life, and brought up in a humble polygamous family with four siblings, Bwabi, the first-born in his family, says he was determined to change the status quo after his secondary school studies, and nothing could stand before him, including being a watchman at that considerably young age.
“I had to find a way to survive,” Bwabi says as we begin a one-on-one interview at Chams Media offices in Kilimani. “Coming to Nairobi was not that easy, but one of my friends called me and promised to help me find a job. He was ready to accommodate me for a while, but we only stayed together for two weeks and I was forced to find my place. So I came but the only job that was available was security.”
Bwabi, now 24 years, did not know that this job, at this particular place, is what would change his life forever. As an aspiring journalist, Bwabi said he watched content produced and presented by various senior journalists, including Alex Chamwada who he would soon meet.
He too wanted to be a journalist and this was an ambition soon turning into a reality despite many hurdles along the way. “When I was posted at Kilimani Court for day shift, I had to walk everyday from Kawangware 56 to work since I was earning just Ksh8,000. It was very hard for me to plan with it since I wanted to save something for school and send something home to support my siblings fee,” says Bwani, now a budding Videographer.
While on duty, Bwabi says he would occasionally see Alex Chamwada passing by, most of the time in his car and a few times on foot rushing for a meeting or something. In his quest to have a chat with the ever-busy Chamwada known for diaspora content, the 24-year-old had to be at his best, to first attract attention and then engage the veteran journalist in a meaningful conversation.
It was quite a task, he says, but he kept trying. Until he finally won Chamwada’s heart and offered to pay his college fees. “It took me like four months of consistency just approaching him. I told him that, even though I wanted to be a journalist, my financial status could not afford it. He didn’t say anything, but I equally didn’t give up,” Bwabi told Business Today.
“One day I had to face him directly in his office while he was working, and interestingly, the same day, I received lunch sent to me by Alex, and that’s how I got a chance to talk to him. He would later make effort to come and visit me in school after I joined Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Eldoret Campus in 2022,” he further narrates.
Through Isaya Bwabi, the KIMC Eldoret Campus has benefited a lot from Alex Chamwada’s mentorship and regular visits to the institution where he interacts with the students. “He never left me alone just like my parent, he has also been monitoring my performance, while guiding me on what to do and not to do.”
From this experience, Bwabi says he has learnt a lot in life and most importantly, kindness. Professionally, he aspires to be one of the best journalists – specializing in videography and editing, with a bit of photography; skills that he is already putting into practice at Chams Media under the tutelage of Alex Chamwada and his team.
His story, which was first shared online by Alex Chamwada has created traction online with many people drawing inspiration from it as Kenyans continue to congratulate him for not only defying the constraints of his circumstances but also being able to speak about his past. Bwabi says he is moved by the reactions and believes that this could be just another miracle in the making. He is living the moment and hopes to achieve his dreams, one click of the camera at a time.
“Chams Media is like my home,” he says, “though my first month was a bit hard for me like I was here before in different form while coming back in different form. It is the best company to work with, they have been supportive to me, from a guard to journalist. I would appreciate any kind of support especially in further studies, things like scholarships and even my career growth.”