Thursday, November 30, 2023

Maggie Wazome: The Lady Behind “Samahani Mteja Wa Nambari Unayopiga”

Maggie Wazome is the lady behind the voice that notifies Safaricom callers when the person they are calling is unreachable.

The phrase, “Samahani mteja wa nambari uliyoipiga hapatikani kwa sasa,” which translates to “sorry the mobile subscriber cannot be reached” has become a household phrase in Kenya.

Reports have it that the voice was recorded a few months before Safaricom began its operations which dates back to October 2000.

Maggie, who was born in Mombasa, got the job after she was called by the then-KBC commercial producer Crawford to read those lines. She was not even a Safaricom employee by then.

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She had met Crawford when she worked part-time at KBC, where she was part of the team behind ‘Ugua Pole na Lucozade,’ a Sunday afternoon show hosted by legendary presenter Fred Obachi Machoka. Machoka had recommended that she voices commercials.

She read several lines but never knew what they were for. She was just told there was a client who was looking for a particular voice. The interview was attended by 16 contestants, and she became a winner.

“I read a few lines that had varied content, and one of them was ‘mteja wa nambari uliyopiga’ I had no idea what they were about,” she said, adding that she did not read the English version of the message.

“The next call I got, they were like, ‘Okay, Maggie, you are the lucky one at the end of the day.’ Up to that time, by the way, I had no idea it was Safaricom. I had no clue whatsoever,” said Maggie.

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She would learn that it was Safaricom that paid for her voice when one of her friends told her that there was a familiar voice on the other end of the line.

“At that point, I was so young I was just thinking money. I was just thinking, ‘Let me make some little pocket money for myself.’ Little did I know it was going to turn out really in a nice way,’’ she added.

Years later, she got a job at Safaricom, where she worked as a customer care charged with handling customers’ concerns.

In a few months, she was promoted to her current position, which entails handling problems handed to her by those at the call center.

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