Woman fights stereotypes to break into male-dominated DJ scene


Paulina Njoki, who goes by the stage name DJ Pola, at Vibe Sounds Deejay Academy in Nairobi. PHOTO | KENNEDY KIMANTHI

December is synonymous with partying and besides the huge portions of food and drink which will be consumed, a necessary ingredient of any successful party is music. 

A disc jockey (DJ) is therefore an important part of this since they can make or break revellers’ mood. 

Twenty two year-old Paulina Njoki, who goes by the stage name DJ Pola, is one of the upcoming female deejays who have, against strong odds, started making inroads in the male-dominated field. 

After completing secondary school in 2013, she started deejaying as a pastime but it soon grew on her. 

She scored a C+ in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination, a grade she says could not allow her pursue a career in environmental science. 

“At first, I got into deejaying for fun considering that I had just cleared Form Four and was just looking for something to keep me busy, but with time, I developed a passion for it and decided to hone my skills at one of the local DJ schools,” she told Enterprise. 

Ms Njoki says she easily convinced her parents to pay for the three-month deejaying course at Nairobi’s Vibe Sounds DJ Academy in 2014. 

A year down the line, she was among a small but increasing number of people joining the entertainment scene through deejaying. 

Before her big break, she used to work as a cashier and waitress at a hotel in Westlands and used her earnings and contributions from family members to buy Sh200,000 equipment. 

“During my free time, I used to attend small gigs where I made contact with those in the entertainment industry,” she says. 

She, however, adds that it has not been an easy ride earning her keep as a female DJ in Nairobi. 

Ms Njoki says she has had to withstand outright hostility and stiff competition from male DJs who have been practising for much longer than she has. 

One of the main challenges female DJs face, she says, is when people don’t take them seriously. Being focused and respectful are the personal attributes that she credits to her success. 

“There is a perception that we cannot do it on our own without the help of our male counterparts. Sometimes we are placed as back-up DJs in some events,” she says.

Her big break came when she was signed up to deejay for a youth event organised by TrapNation media. 

“I play at different clubs and weddings and corporate events. I charge between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000 per event or duration,” she said, adding that she makes about Sh70,000 in a good month. 

“I play all types of music. I believe music and art are catalysts that can empower the youth for a better society.” 

Using proceeds from her business, she opened a candy shop at Nairobi’s Kahawa Sukari estate. 

Ms Njoki is also undertaking a part-time course in Business Management at the KCA University. In three years, she envisages opening her own studio where she can help upcoming DJs hone their skills.