Unlike many around the world, two Kenyan online DJs with disabilities say the pandemic has actually had a positive effect on their lives.
Robert Kimotho, whose stage name is MC Robzy, and Joseph Kamau, known as DJ Skylla, say their country’s COVID-19 restrictions created a faithful group of online followers, giving their careers a huge boost.
“We decided to look for a place where we can be able to be expressing ourselves and practicing what we have learned on DJing,” Kimotho said.
Having been rejected regularly by event organizers, the two were forced to discover alternative methods to practice their craft.
“The community says persons with disabilities typically are always beggars, so whenever you go to an office, many were giving us 50 bob as a sign of just helping you. They don’t want to listen to what you want to say or what you want to be helped. So they take you as a beggar.”
Kimotho says these experiences were extremely disheartening.
But when COVID-19 arrived in Kenya early last year, everything changed. To stop the spread, the government closed bars and other entertainment venues. Kenyans turned to social media as their entertainment source precisely what the two DJs needed to showcase their talent.
“You know online, you don’t need permission to play. You need maybe the data or the WiFi and the smartphone, and you know the gigs you need the organizer’s permission and many of them reject.”
Not wanting to be viewed as people with disabilities but as talented DJs who happen to have specific disabilities, Kimotho said, “We want people to know that we are capable of doing what other DJs are doing and whenever we were live, we were delighted to see people saying you are motivating us. Positive vibes coming our way.”
Kamau added, “People are happy with what we are doing. Many are motivated, and some say if I can be a DJ with just one active toe why would people say there are no jobs.”
Just like other hopeful DJs, the duo wants to continue developing their trade and hope to perform at live events someday.