- In the beautiful afternoon light, Somoina Kimojino sits behind Carolina Herrera sunglasses at a garden in Cedars Restaurant, Nairobi.
- She is in a new career season after being at Capital FM for 15 years, only leaving last year during the grinding pandemic to join Homeboyz Radio as General Manager.
In the beautiful afternoon light, Somoina Kimojino sits behind Carolina Herrera sunglasses at a garden in Cedars Restaurant, Nairobi. She does not remove them the whole time, sitting one leg draped over the other.
She has just finished her working lunch; chicken wings. She is in a new career season after being at Capital FM for 15 years, only leaving last year during the grinding pandemic to join Homeboyz Radio as General Manager.
From behind the mysterious veil of Herrera, she speaks about divorce, motherhood, love, God, and her father who died in a road accident in 1978, when she had barely learnt how to brush her teeth.
For this interview with JACKSON BIKO, she was accompanied by her protective friend and bridesmaid, Zuhura Ogada, who finishes her sentences and sometimes lightly protests at some of her more modest answers.
How did you end up in the media?
My dad was in the media. He was a radio broadcaster with Voice of Kenya (VOK). He was part of the Presidential Press Unit, back in Moi’s time. He died in a road accident while heading to cover a presidential event in Kisumu in 1978.
I never grew up without him but I felt like he was always part of our lives. My mom kept him alive for us. He used to take us to VOK, I don’t recall but maybe a seed was sown then. I then studied communications in Canada (University of Windsor) where I had a radio show on campus. I used to do an African Caribbean show. When I moved back to Kenya, I worked at KBC then I met Chris Kirubi and he hired me on the spot.
What do you think is going to be the one thing that defines your life eventually?
Wow. The one thing…(Long pause). Motherhood. I hope my children can say that I was an excellent mother. I hope others can say that I raised God-fearing boys. I’ve raised them to be loving no matter the circumstances. I’m divorced. They stay with their father now. He remarried, almost two years ago. So when they went to his wedding, I was told that the older one spoke and he welcomed his stepmother to the family. Everyone teared, I’m told. I was proud when I heard that, to know that he extended grace and love to her.
How has divorce altered the course of your life?
I remember when I first uttered the word divorce, my family was like, ‘no, no, you can work it out. Try and work it out.’ But what people don’t know is that by the time you are uttering those words you’ve reached the end of the road, a stage of finality. Was it stuff we could have worked out? Yes, maybe. I was the one who was a bit more rigid then. Divorce made me realise that I’m stronger than I imagined. There is also the stigma it comes with; being divorced with children. Who is going to want you with two boys? Nobody is going to raise anybody’s sons! (Chuckles) That’s the question I got. ‘I don’t need anyone to raise my sons, I just need someone who respects and takes me for who I am,’ I said.
Divorce also made me stronger in faith. I got closer to God. But also because my mom raised us on her own, I knew I could do it. At some point, I ended up being a mother and father because my ex-husband was out of the country then. He is an excellent father.
We agreed that when the boys reached 11, they’d go live with him to get the experience of a father figure. It was a sacrifice on my part.
If you're to get married again, what would you do differently?
[Zuhura cuts in with an answer]
I feel like I'm interviewing two people. Zuhura, do you want to pull your chair closer here, perhaps?
(Laughter) I think I’d be more forgiving. When you are young, you hold onto things, things that prevent healing. I should have forgiven him but I couldn’t at the time. But age teaches you that.
You have a great career going. You seem to be in excellent health. You get along with your ex-husband’s wife and co-parenting is going great. What are you struggling with currently?
Oh my God. Companionship. (Chuckles) It’s the one thing I can’t seem to get right. (Laughs) I have a tight circle of friends and I find it hard to explore outside and meet new people. It doesn’t help that I’m an introvert. I don’t go out. So I need to learn to step out of the box and take a risk. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to.
What's your love language?
Quality time and physical touch.
What would you say has been the tipping point in your career?
Transitioning and transforming I think being the curator of Koroga Festival is a tipping point and how it transformed the live African music scene and instilled confidence in concert-goers. That, you could say, is the cherry on my cake.
What do you perceive as success?
Peace. When you’re able to wake up every morning and not worry.
Of the things you learned in your career, what are you trying to unlearn?
Wow. (Long pause) Maybe work-life balance. Covid has taught us that now you can get the job done and still spend time with your family. Sometimes as women, we feel that to climb to the top we need to work twice as hard. We do though. And in that journey we feel like we can't say no if we are, for instance, called for a meeting at an odd time when you should be home with the children. Then you realise you don’t have to. Learning to say no is in itself a great journey.
What do you dream of now in your 40s?
A cottage in Nanyuki overlooking Mount Kenya. A home I can chill and be able to work from.
What do you fear the most now?
(Pause) Not having accomplished what I want to accomplish for my boys. Will they be fine if I go today? I think there’s a lot more that I want to be there for with them. There is one more fear which I don’t know if I should tell you on record or not. (Pause) I think that if I find perfect peace and companionship, I will die. I keep having that premonition. [Zuhuru: ‘Don’t write that Biko, people will think she will die].
So this is working perfectly, you’re staying alive because the right person has not come your way?
Where's all these stemming from?
It’s because of my dad. My mom and my dad were just the perfect pair. Everybody says how a warm and loving person he was and how well he treated my mom. He was taken away from her at such a time when they were just in perfect harmony, perfect fit, perfect love. At the back of my mind, I don’t want to get to that point of perfection.
Do you find it harder to date the more successful you get?
Absolutely. Men get intimidated. The ones who aren’t are the wrong fit. Also, remember the stigma around divorce I mentioned. It’s also harder if the man you are trying to date is single because his parents will raise an issue. It’s easier if he is divorced or widowed.