To many, he’s the country’s moral police. But at home, the Kenya Film Classification Board CEO, Ezekiel Mutua, is a hard-working father who goes an extra mile to make sure his kids get anything that adds value to their life, including Internet
Growing up in a tumultuous home ravished with poverty, Ezekiel Mutua, understands the pain of lacking in a lot of ways. All he had in his childhood was a narrow view of life in a home with a drunkard and violent polygamous father who, back then, was there, but in reality, absent. As he got older, Mutua pledged to be there for his wife and children when God would bless him with a family.
And so when he became a husband in 1997 and got his first child a year later, Mutua was excited. “I got married to the love of my life, Jane Mutua. We have two sons aged 19 and 12 years.
I vowed they would never go through the lack of basic needs, love and emotional support as long as we, their parents, are alive,” says the Kenya Film Classification Board Chief Executive Officer.
Mutua acknowledges that parenting is not an easy task and has no experts. It’s a constant learning curve that brings triumphs, failures and limitation, but he makes sure his family feels his love. If there’s an opportunity that benefits his children, he will make sure they get it.
“As long as it’s something that adds value to their life, then it doesn’t matter how much it will cost. I’ve gone through lack, and I know how it feels to miss out on chances that can enrich you. I never want my boys to walk alone in life,” he says.
Speaking fondly of his family, Mutua values education and wants his sons to get the best. He recalls setting foot in a class for the first time at 10 years. His father had to be nudged by his drinking buddy to enrol his son in school.
And so Mutua, who now bonds well with his father is amazed by his children’s diligence when it comes to academics. While he ensures that they understand their wellbeing is far more precious than grades, he is proud to witness their industriousness.
Heading a state corporation that regulates broadcast content, he monitors his children’s Internet access to keep them safe. Mutua, however, confesses that it is a parenting challenge. He wants them to have the best tools to thrive, but also alerts them to this component’s double-edged sword.
“You can’t win the war by denying them Internet access. We have conversations about it. It is good for information and education, which definitely opens their world view. My wife and I have given them access to all the technology children can legally have at their age with guidance,” he says.
They sensitise the children on how to spot and call out corrupt content such as cyber-bullying. Their youngest son has a phone that he gets during the weekend. It is kept in his parents’ bedroom on school days.
Mutua and his wife have put a caveat on sleepovers. It was met with apprehension from the boys, but they resigned to it. “They will soon grow up, leave the nest and spend countless nights wherever they desire. For now, we want to spend more time with them and make sure they are safe,” he says.
The boys respect this and other regulations at home. They comprehend that there are rules they have to subscribe to as long as they are still living with their folks.
“Children need to be taught that life is about being accountable for one’s deeds. Their mother and I guide them through life. Our work schedules tend to be demanding, but we ensure that we spend quality family time together,” he adds.
And if the children err, their parents employ forms of discipline that rectify the wrong. As their father puts it; the idea of discipline is to restore not to destroy as punishment does. He wants to maintain the good relationship he enjoys with his children and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable with them.
Asked if he ever worries that his portrayal by media could damage the image his children have of him, Mutua is confident that it cannot tamper with that. “My family knows me and when people sometimes come for my neck online, my younger son always reassures me and in that moment, those powerful words mean everything to me,” he says.