Vox Nairobi | 1

Shujazz FM DJ B? (Brendan Bannon)

Name – DJ B

Age – Young enough to know better

Work – Pirate radio DJ, Superhero

Lives – It’s a secret, man

KAREN, Nairobi, April 4, 2011 (Daily Dispatches) – Thousands follow him on Facebook, tens of thousands hear his radio show, millions see his life illustrated in Kenya’s monthly Shujaaz.fm comic. DJ B is a secret superstar for his country’s youth, a man with a mouth, a mission and a message. He jealously guards his identity, and agreed to talk to Mike Pflanz only by telephone from his shack-studio somewhere on Nairobi’s outskirts.

DD – Your radio show targets Kenya’s young people of school-leaving age. Tell us about a typical listener.

DJB – All of us are lost in the reality of this world, because no-one in the education system helps us to find what we can do as a job. We clear school then we have to start another life discovering ourselves. You know, it takes five to seven years to get a proper job or know what you can do for a job. Many young people first try to fight for the little dream remaining in them. To be a hip-hop singer, for example, but they try and try and nothing comes. They end up in the streets, joining gangs. The ladies give in to the temptations of being with older men, to get some small money. You try odd jobs you never dreamed of doing, you are at a dead end, you can’t do anything else. When you are drowning, you will get hold of anything that you see in the ocean.

DD – What do you talk about in your shows?

DJB – Only I talk about the things that affect me, affect us young people. I tell my story, I tell other people’s stories, that’s how we interest people. People get me by text, or Facebook or Twitter, and talk of their problems, maybe with their parents, with teachers, or others at school. They ask me questions, if it’s hard for me to answer I put it on my Facebook page and people comment. I believe in getting our issues solved by us. Use the youth to solve the youth’s problems, that’s the Shujaaz world [Shujaaz roughly translates as heroes in Kenya’s Kiswahili language].

DD – Give me some examples of how you have helped.

DJB – Ah, there are too many. When I talk of making money, every young person listens. We all need money to survive to see tomorrow without a hungry stomach, to see the doctor, to buy shoes, to pay for school. How do we make money? What about rearing chickens, even in the ghetto that is something simple and can bring you money. Sell a chicken for $4, you buy football boots. Sell three and you can record a CD of your hiphop song that you are dreaming of. With Shujaaz, people testify the positives, they say, hey DJ B remember that idea you had? I’m using it and today I am earning some small coins.

DD – Aren’t big aid agencies doing such projects?

DJB – They come and talk and then they vanish, there’s no follow up. Tell me something today and tomorrow I’ll forget. As a young person, it might be hard for me to change my behavior, so I need you to hold my hand and walk with me. With Shujaaz, you are listening to someone who is wearing the same shoes, I can talk you through it.

DD – Why not work for an official radio station?

DJB – I’m just another kid who’s cleared school, who’s struggling with the ills of life, who’s hustling to get money. Like any other young person, I spend sleepless nights worrying about tomorrow. Most mainstream media, they don’t talk about these things. They tell stories to improve their company, to get money. I don’t want to judge them for that but why should I tell my story with restrictions, with orders? I have nobody to tell me, I tell the story the way it is, that’s that.

DD – But you earn no money from this. Why do it?

DJB – It keeps me busy. That’s something many young people have not discovered – being idle will lead you to do things you don’t want to do, simply because you are idle. I have a passion to help young people. Everyone is DJ B, everyone has DJ B inside them. Even the bad guys, somewhere in them there is a DJ B and we have to help them discover it.

Related: Who is DJ B?

© DAILY DISPATCHES: Nairobi 2011


3 Responses to “Vox Nairobi | 1”

  1. Debbie says:

    Awesome story…awesome kid!

  2. bridgetdeacon says:

    Fantastic interview – what a great story!

  3. His work seems very interesting especially since he’s around our age and has so much to say, and he’s found a way to get his messages across the globe. He reached out through photos, comics, radio and biggest of all social media which artists are pushing forward to do. Would what he does ruin him if he wasn’t private about who he was would the message even get out as well?