ERICK - MY STORY
My name is Erick. All my life I’ve been here in Kibera. It’s my home. I grew up here with two sisters and a brother. In my family, I am the only artist.
My life so far has been quite challenging. First of all, I dropped out of school in class eight. I started again, but then in form two I stopped completely. I never had a dad, and my mom passed away while I was in class eight, so that explains the first drop out. In Africa, you are somebody if you have your parents. If they are not there, nobody will care about you. The people that used to come to your house once your parents were there, they are not going to show up anymore. Because they think that you will need their help, that maybe you want to borrow something from them. But still I tried again until form two. It has been really been challenging.
The most important person in my life was my mom. I know that if she was still alive today, I could have reached so far. Who gives me hope today is a friend of mine. He gives me good advice sometimes.
After my mom’s death, I was living with relatives. Living with relatives is not something easy. They might force you to do things you don’t want to do. Sometimes they do things to you that show you that nobody needs you there. A person that wants you to leave will not tell you to leave. They will move you by actions.
Until now, I am not very stable. I’ve been looking everywhere for small jobs but it’s difficult to find one. If you don’t have a godfather, it’s hard even for you to go to mjengu, the construction works. When you go to a place, you’ll be asked: “Who are you coming with?”. You always need connections.
Sometimes it’s difficult to survive. I just go for small jobs. But money never lasts for a long time, because things here are expensive. In Kenya, the cost of living is rising. Because of all the debts we have with China, we pay so much for all kinds of products. The country is full of corruption. Even before we vote, we know who is going to be the next president.
My technical talent
I have a technical talent: I’m a plan designer. Like an architect, I design houses. I have shown my work to engineers, and they told me: “You are a graduate.” I said no. They couldn’t believe how I learnt this without ever having been with an architect. I told them: “It’s a talent.” A talent means that you have something that nobody ever imagined you were able to do.
I was drawing passionately. First, I was doing it for leisure. Then, I realized that this could take me somewhere. But they have told me that the only way for me to take off is to go back to school. Unfortunately, I can’t take architectural classes because they require a form four certificate. If I wanted to go back to school, I would need a sponsor. Until now, I felt like all doors have been closed. After asking so many people for help and always being rejected, there comes a time when you lose hope. But I go on. If someone helps me, I’ll be an architect designing houses and vehicles. Something that nobody else has been before.
I’ve designed many houses, and also cars. There’s a saloon car I design which I’m very proud of. It looks like a limousine, but I just like to play with people’s minds. They have told me that I need to be careful. Anybody could use my plans. A very bad architect could use my ideas and become a millionaire.
My plan is to package my drawing well and then go to an embassy. Maybe they can help me. If I get the opportunity to achieve my dreams with my drawings, I want to open a school. It would be a school of technical talents. For people who are very gifted, just to sharpen their skills.
I am also a comedian. Being a comedian has to do with many things. For example with your voice. We were comedians even before the Churchill people started with their show. I can’t say I was inspired by someone. I am who I am and I do my things. The only thing I know is that what I do can help me, and eventually someone else. Making someone laugh can make him forget his problems for a moment.
I joined Kica early this year. A friend introduced me. After being registered, I started performing with them.
When you’re on stage for the first time, you feel like in heaven. You feel so proud. My first show as a comedian was in the national theatre. In Undugu there was another show. I’m looking forward to doing more. I don’t like telling people that I’m a celebrity. “What you do will advertise you”, is my favourite proverb. I’ll not advertise myself. I prefer people to be surprised.
Choosing your own path
In my opinion, we are often forced to do something just because it’s seen as something that is good or that brings you money, even though you don’t like it. Personally, I don’t do things if I don’t like them. I want to go my own way and to live my own life.
My message to the community
To the parents, to the guardians and mostly to the youths: Don’t do things you don’t want to do. This is especially about the courses you choose. You have your own personality. What you do with passion, you will struggle for it.