Renowned American author Joe Girard once quipped that the elevator to success is out of order. You will have to use the stairs one step at a time.
The adage is true in Jeremiah Nyaga Njoroge alias Chef Gathemba’s proverbial rags to riches tale where he had to shed a couple of negative tags in order to rise to stardom.
In an interview with Jeff Kuria, Gathemba noted that he had to do some menial jobs including working as a gardener and matatu tout before getting opportunities to act in Royal Media Services (RMS) and eventually land the presenter role at Kameme FM.
His journey starts in Subukia, Nakuru county, where the presenter was born and raised. Gathemba studied at Sidai Primary School, Subukia, and then joined Kieni Secondary School.
After clearing Form Four, he did not join college due to a lack of school fees and decided to look for menial jobs in order to help his family meet the daily expenses.
He joined his aunt in Githumu, Murang’a County, who helped him get his first job as a gardener at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). He noted how he would use his free time to accompany his aunt who worked at the Nakuru County Government.
At the time, Gathemba wrote vernacular songs with hopes of one day becoming a famous artist. The presenter left the job due to low wages – Ksh80 a day in order to seek better employment opportunities.
Seeking to discover the city, Gathemba relocated to Nairobi and stayed with his cousin in Dandora. At this point, his cousin linked him up with a former employee at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
Desperate to impress the contact person, Gathemba pretended that he had an extensive background in comedy which landed him a role as a police officer at the Kenya National Theatre.
As days went by, Gathemba perfected his act and earned bigger roles including set books where he would travel with other established actors.
However, the situation became worse when the acting roles ended and he ended up going to Narok in order to embark on farming.
His colleagues urged him to return to the city, which he did. At the time, Gathemba had developed a Maasai accent that would earn him more opportunities.
He then landed a role as Madvd’s uncle at Citizen TV’s Machachari. This earned him fame as he got popular in a span of a few months.
The fame however would be short-lived as Gathemba poured his fortune into alcohol addiction- the kryptonite to his captivating rise.
“After the show’s season ended, things became worse as there lacked shows and acting gigs. So a friend offered me an offer to be a tout and I accepted.
“While I was a tout, I had engaged in alcohol addiction because of stress. My colleagues who had seen me acting on Citizen TV thought I had been paid millions and that it all went down the drain. They would mock me and I would end up engaging in alcohol and the only way I could function was when I was drunk,” he added.
Counting his losses, the presenter decided to reform his life and seek another job. Fortunately, he landed a role as an actor for Inooro TV‘s Micii ni Ndogo.
Gathemba sought to perfect his voice-over skills which would ultimately land him a job at Media Max Limited as part of the creative team. The opportunity opened the door for him to be a presenter at Kameme FM.
“After doing a number of adverts for Media Max, I got absorbed in the creative team. This evidently opened the doors for me at Kameme FM where I got an opportunity to host the morning show Arahuka alongside Gatonye wa Mbugua,” he stated.