Thoughts that keep Bryon Mudhune awake at 3am - VIDEO


MafArique International Co-founder Byron Mudhune poses for a picture after the interview on January 19, 2024, at Tribe Hotel. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Don’t take my word for it, but when Byron Mudhune first walked in at the Tribe Hotel for our interview, it was a déjà vu moment: I swore I might have seen him in an Afro-cinema movie, playing the role of an African elder. “People have different perceptions of me,” he chuckles.

In his middle-aged era, he is less dominant than indomitable, his eyes darting all over the place—a kind of leitmotif of how he built his brand, MafAfrique International, an Africa and Eurasia strategy advisory group—they are furtive until they are not; he doesn’t look at you until he does.

His moxie, however, is peppered with thoughts. He is always thinking: Thoughts of where to go on a walk next, thoughts of why he burned 200k to buy someone a watch; and thoughts of what could have been if he had kept on playing football, his lifelong unrequited love.

What’s it like being you?

Very complex. Frequently, I wake up at 3am. You have to adapt and treat people as they come. You don’t design solutions on what you think, but on what people want. Being me is about flexibility, open-mindedness, and innovation.

What do you do at 3 am?

Catch up on the news from Africa and the markets we are in situ. That’s up to 5am. Then I’ll go for a walk, to absorb the news, haha! I’ll reflect on what I can do to make my business better. I’ll be home at 7am for breakfast and start my day at 10am and work until 3pm. The third part of my day, starting at 8pm until midnight, it’s when I think.

What do you do when you are not thinking?

I walk and read books. I also travel and watch a lot of football. That’s where my passion is, particularly local matches. When I am not in the office, I will walk out and find a match to watch. I am a Gor Mahia and Simba (Tanzania) fan.

Did you play back in the day?

It’s an interest I picked up as a child. Initially, I was just a fan. Football is more than just entertainment, it’s a passion. Maybe I should buy a football club, haha!

What travel experience has stayed with you?

When I am in Kenya, people ask me “Are you Kenyan?” Ditto other countries where they ask me: Are you Nigerian? Or in Asian countries: Are you American? That has taught me about perceptions and realities.

Has it ever landed you in a dire straits situation?

Haha! Well, some countries have a bad reputation, but in most cases, it has worked to my advantage. People also build trust in you, a sort of reflection of them.

Do you travel with your family?

Yes, when I have to stay away for a longer period due to work. And mostly long-distance travel. But here in East Africa, I know I can hop on a plane and be home in a few hours.

What have you learned about yourself as a citizen of the world?

I'm patient. I don’t get irritated fast. I also easily embrace different cultures. People value things differently. The most important thing I have learned is that life is understanding who you are as a person. When you understand that, that’s the image you take to the world.

Did you grow up self-assured?

I grew up in a big family of seven—five boys, and two girls. I am the fourth born. Growing up, you always had to stand up for yourself, and that builds character. That helps in a world where you have to speak up and express your views.

What was your nickname?

Some people call me Jakoyo. It is Luo for “coldness.” Jakoyo is a cold guy or one who was born in rainy weather.

What do you miss about your childhood?

A lot of the things I am doing now, I wish I was taught back then. It was a closed view of the world we live in, school, and friends; not much about life skills, entrepreneurship or relating with other cultures and building relationships.

What remains unchanged about Jakoyo since childhood?

My value systems. I am surrounded by the friends I grew up with.

Describe one of your happiest memories with one of your friends.

We were travelling to Singapore and connecting via Korea. When I got to Singapore, the flight was cancelled and there was no connecting flight for at least 24 hours. I called a few friends in Kazakhstan, a very cold place, -24 degrees. I stayed in Kazakhstan, where I ate horsemeat for breakfast. In the afternoons we’d go to the mountains and watch people use eagles to hunt while riding on horseback. I stayed there for four days.


MafArique International Co-founder Byron Mudhune poses for a picture after the interview on January 19, 2024, at Tribe Hotel. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

How do you show yourself love?

I go to a nice restaurant and eat nice food. Sometimes, I will take a 10km walk. As you age, health becomes a concern, hence the 10km walk, as a way of showing myself love.

What might be surprising for people to learn about you?

When we were growing up, we were told to take life, education, religion—everything seriously, haha! But nothing is ever that serious! I don’t go to church nor do I encourage my children to be very studious. I encourage people to express themselves differently in this world. Adaptability is the key in today’s society.

How are you raising your children differently?

I teach them life skills. What matters most is your attitude, values, belief systems, and how you relate to people. The rest are good to have as add-ons.

Thoughts that keep Bryon Mudhune awake at 3am

What is that one book you read that has stayed with you?

I have it on my phone, a quote by Osho, on my WhatsApp DP: “Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, and incomparable. You are you. I am I.” Just be who you are.

What do you look forward to on the weekends?

Watching football, taking a retreat, and a walk. Sometimes catching up with family.

What position would you play in football?

I was a very good striker. If I were not who I am today, I would have ended up playing football for the national team.

What lesson has football taught you?

If you pit all the stars against an average team, you expect the team full of stars to win. Not always the case. Football, like life, is not just collecting good things and putting them together, it is both the good and bad blended together. That’s football and that’s life. You need that balance.

What’s your superpower?

I am not on social media apart from WhatsApp and LinkedIn. I am reserved, which connects me to other people. I don’t speak a lot nor open up myself too much to the world.

What’s an unusual habit that you love?

Working from the bed. Finding an excuse at work to go and watch a football match. I also do a lot of videos when I am travelling, and interacting with people.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve spent money on?

Apart from being conned? Haha! I bought someone a watch for Sh200,000 and it’s dumb because now we have mobile phones, and people don’t even wear watches nowadays.

What hack do you know that can make my weekends better?

Don’t work, even if you have to. Unwind.

When is it ever enough?

When I achieve the things I have set out to. Money is not always the drive. It delights me to see the success of the people we have supported. I am more of a social impact person now.

Who do you know that I should know?

I have a brother called George Mudhune. He is the exact opposite of me.

What is the last thing you do before the lights go out?

I am not a religious person, but I will reflect on what I did during the day. Did I achieve my objectives? And I will hope that the following morning I will be able to push on.

Are you happy?

That’s relative. Happiness comes from realising the things I set out to achieve, that I have achieved them, that my success is about the success of other people around me, and that happiness can only come from me. So yes, I am happy.

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