In Kenya’s entertainment broadcasting, Mzazi Willy Tuva is probably the most established figure. The celebrated radio presenter has packaged himself as the number one promoter of east African music through his shows on Royal Media Services Citizen Radio and Citizen Tv.
He hosts the show mambo Mseto on Radio Citizen and Mseto East Africa on Citizen Tv. Unlike many of his colleagues in the media industry who are prone to doing musical chairs, Mzazi has remained loyal to the Citizen brand, where he founded the Mambo Mseto show and built his name and fame.
But it was not easy for the presenter to get to where he is today. Tuva faced multiple rejections when he set off to pursue a career in radio entertainment.
In one interview, Willy Tuva disclosed that he had the idea of Mambo Mseto radio show for a long time. However, he was turned away on virtually every radio station that he knocked on to pitch the idea.
He says that back then, leading Kenyan musicians such as Nameless and Redsan were making great music but had no airplay. The media was yet to embrace local music. This was what caused him to aspire towards promotion of local talents.
“I had been a very good cartoonist back in the day. My work had been published in newspapers such as Taifa Leo and the Now Magazine. But this was just a side hustle. My heart was in radio,” he said. “I knocked on the doors of so many radio stations but they despised me. They never gave me a chance. They’d give me appointments and then keep telling me to come tomorrow. But I never gave up.”
He got his first real opportunity on radio when a friend, Jacob Mogoa, who was hosting a health show on state broadcaster KBC gave him a fifteen-minute segment within his show. “He chose me because I knew things about health and fitness and that was what his show dealt with,” he said. he’d use those fifteen minutes to play east African music which at the time was dominated by the likes of Ugandan star, Chameleone.
His big break at Citizen came courtesy of veteran journalist Vincent Ateya when Citizen re-branded into a full-time Swahili station. Ateya brought him to Citizen after hearing him during a recording of Mogoa’s show at KBC.
“Vincent Ateya is the person who made me who I am. When Citizen started looking for people who could speak fluent Swahili to make presentations, he recalled hearing me on Mogoa’s show,” said Tuva and gave me th chance to launch Mambo Mseto. The show became an instant hit.
Years down the line, Tuva started contemplating creating a new version of the show for television. He one of the directors at Royal Media Services, Fred Afune, with his idea.
“I said I’ll take it to TV. I talked to Afune and our Managing Director and they said they’ll give me a chance. Mseto East Africa then became very popular,” he said.
Tuva has also launched several other projects over the years including the Mseto Campus Tours and Mseto Mashinani. Mzazi has also earned favour among his followers for his consistent promotion of young talents within the region.