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Jobs that Maina Kageni and other celebrities did before they were famous (Photos)

From working as house helps to truck drivers, these celebrities have really paid their dues.

Here are some celebrities who did all manner of odd jobs just to make ends meet before they became famous.

To start us off is:

1. Mzazi Willy Tuva- Radio Citizen Presenter


He has one of the most recognizable faces and voices in radio and he started out as a painter. A few years ago Mzazi confessed that aside from presenting on the radio, he has another skill which enabled him get by with as little stress as possible, he is an artist so he used his artistic skills in sign writing.

“I used to be a painter long before I became a radio & TV presenter. I was born an artist, a cartoonist and a painter. I have had a daily cartoon column in a popular Kenyan Newspaper since my first year in college. Nilikuwa nafanya kazi ya uchoraji nikiwa ‘High School’ na baada ya kumaliza kidato cha nne. Even when I was in primary school I believed that one day I would be on radio and so while I waited to further my studies in broadcasting, this is what I used to do and I can still do it. It’s in me, believe you can achieve, work hard and love what you do and one day your dreams will come true!”  He disclosed.

2. Maina Kageni

The Classic 105 radio god used to work as a truck driver after flying out to study. As the story goes, Maina Kageni flew to the UK after completing his form four studies at Laiser Hill to pursue a degree. But he had other plans as he did not even register in college and he started working as a truck driver and fish distributor for a Chinese firm.

His mum suffered a rude shock after coming for his graduation only to find out that Maina’s name was not on the list of granduants! Disappointed and furious she came back to Kenya and warned him not to come back home. Lucky for him the odds were in his favour as despite not going to college, he turned out just fine as he is one of the highest paid radio presenters in the country.


3. Larry Madowo

Larry Madowo is one of the biggest names in Kenyan TV thanks to his ability to cover all manner of topics, from pop culture to technology to politics. Before fame and success, Madowo experienced a lot of hardship as a child after being orphaned by age 14. This shaped the person he is today “When you grow up with almost no privilege at all, you learn to appreciate the small things.” He told CNN.

The NTV news anchor revealed that when he finished high school he sold mandazi and tea at Gikomba market to make ends meet.

“My first job straight out of high school was selling tea and mandazi at Gikomba.” He disclosed during a CNN shoot at the busy market.

4. Nyota Ndogo


Before she was famous Nyota was a house help, but through the help of a good Samaritan named Andrew, Nyota became the big star she is today. Andrew is the man who gave her the name ’Nyota’ when she was still a house help, recorded her first album, introduced her to the who-is-who in the entertainment industry and often asked her employer for permission so that Nyota could go out and perform when she was still a househelp. Nyota believes that were it not for the late Andrew she would still be a house help.

“After my father died Andrew became my father in music. He gave me the opportunity to record in his studio for free and gave me the name ‘Nyota’. If it weren’t for this man I feel like I would still be a househelp. I met producer Ted Josiah through this man.” Nyota confessed in an Instagram post following Andrew’s death.

5. Akothee

Before she was an award-winning musician and a trendsetter with a body to die for, Akothee had a rough past after eloping and getting married at the age of 14 much to the chagrin of her parents as she was still a high school student.

By 16, Akothee already had 3 kids and was working at her in-law’s house as a house help. Her in-laws kicked her out in the year 2000 after the death of one of her kids and the birth of another one. So she started selling Omena (Lake Victoria sardines) and saved up money so that she could complete her high school education. In 2003 her estranged husband resurfaced only to abandon her and her kids 3 years later.


Since she was the sole breadwinner again, Akothee dabbled with different jobs before working as a dancer and a taxi driver. As a taxi driver Akothee caught the eye of a diplomat who wondered how a woman was doing what is traditionally considered a man’s job so he took interest in her and they moved to Switzerland. However their relationship did not last and Akothee soon moved back to Kenya to start her own business, Akothee Safaris which is doing pretty well.

6. Mejja

The 3rd member of chart-topping group ‘The Kansoul’ started out selling ground nuts, home-made speakers and Ketepa (khat) in Narumoru, Nyeri County in between pursuing his music career.

“I knew a friend who used Virtual DJ and he used to record and distribute tracks to places that sell keg. So I did my rapping in between the songs, reggae songs and he dispersed them. In between rapping, I did odd jobs, one being selling Ketepa and another, selling ground nuts at Narumoru.” Mejja told Edaily.

7. Timmy Tdat


Before he entertained us with hits like ‘Trikide’ and ‘Welle Welle’ Timmy Tdat was a dedicated Catholic on track to become a priest.

In fact, he enrolled in a seminary in a bid to fulfil his late father’s wish for him to become a priest before dropping out as he lacked the passion. To make ends meet Timmy disclosed that he sold mitumba (second-hand clothes) and was a matatu tout.

These celebrities’ inspiring rags-to-riches story is proof that you shouldn’t look down on a person simply because they have a humble job, you never know what the future holds.


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