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My daughter wants a little sister for real

At five years, Zawadi Kayyoh is gracing our screens making a name for herself, especially as a commercial model and spoken word artiste. Her mother, Roselinder Achieng, shares more on the renowned ‘Dad naweza pata sister mdogo’ advert sensational

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

How did she get into advertising at such a young age?

It has taken a lot of networking, and prayer over the years to have her called for auditions. However, it’s all worth it and her performance has been great. 

Take us through her poetry journey?

Her first poem was My Name is Kayyoh, which she did at 19 months. It was basically about her and what she does during the day. She did When I Grow Up when she was turning three. Her breakthrough poem was her third one, titled What’s in a Name. It talks about unity, peace, love and cohesion amongst Kenyans urging them to be united regardless of their tribe.

The poem has been performed on various platforms, especially institutions of higher learning, during graduation ceremonies. Also, she has performed it during culture weeks, international peace conference, and leadership conferences, among others.

Through this poem, she has worked with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) as Young Peace Ambassador. She has done other poems that touch on environmental conservation, cancer, domestic violence and maternal mortality.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta chats with Zawadi.

All her poems are basically about sensitising the public on matters affecting humanity.

I write her poems, though at times I’m assisted by Nyakwar Dani, writer of the famous play Otonglo Time. So far, she has 10 poems.

How does she balance school and nurture her budding talent?

She did most of her poems before 2017 when she was still homeschooling. Homeschooling is flexible, helps a child move at their pace and gives enough time for academic work, playing and engaging in extra curriculum activities such as singing, dancing,  poetry,  sports name it. 

Zawadi is also easy to work with and has a good memory.  It takes her an average of one week to master a poem. After starting school in January 2017, she still does poetry, performs in school during assemblies and at school functions.

Her school is supportive and upholds highly talent management. Playing has helped in her cognitive development. Games help in boosting her confidence and self-esteem as well.

How have you helped nurture her talent?

As a mother, I have had to sacrifice my social time to focus on developing her talent.  If not at work, then I’m at my school studying my master’s in International Relations or with Zawadi, training, rehearsing, playing, auditioning, or just relaxing.

I no longer have time to do coffee with my peers!  It is a continuous process. You have to be by the side of your talented child always. Let them know that you are their number one fan.  You got to be the mentor, the best friend and a good manager besides being their parent.

What are some of the challenges she is facing?

Some performances and auditions come on short notice. It calls for prioritisation and reorganisation as sometimes it is just unavoidable.

What are some of her highlights?

Being selected as the Ilara Yoghurt Baby, getting good reviews from some of the top CEOs in the country amongst them, Safaricom’s Bob Collimore. Also, her poem has been  part of NCIC campaign.

What are her hobbies?

She loves  playing, singing and dancing. She also enjoys travelling, swimming, watching cartoons. She intends to be a good chef, just like mama (laughs).

Her likes and dislikes?

She is prayerful, outgoing, have respect for people and doesn’t hesitate to correct those who show disrespect to others. From a tender age, she hated dishonesty. She shows great disappointment when someone lies to her.

Apart from poetry, what else is she doing?

She is also getting into acting and music. Her dream is to make a name in Hollywood.

What about sister mdogo?

(Laughs) She is an only child and wants a sister mdogo for real.  She loves children so much.

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