The story of Thomas Kwaka Omolo alias Big Ted best illustrates the values of resilience, persistence and determination. From scoring a D Plain in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination to becoming a DJ and renowned MC to landing a top job at State House. Big Ted was recently appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Consul-General for Kenya’s Consulate in Los Angeles, United States of America (USA).
Here is the story of Big Ted as told by WoK.
Big Ted Background
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Big Ted was born in Eastleigh, Nairobi in a humble family of five siblings; three brothers and two sisters. His Father Erastus Kwak is a bishop and an auditor running a thriving company in East Africa while his mother Agnes Kwaka is a nurse who transitioned from treating patients to operating a tailoring shop in Jericho. Big Ted attended Buruburu One primary school where flopped in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination. He received a letter to join Uhuru Secondary School.
His dad made him repeat class eight at Aga Khan Academy where he sat for his KCPE and passed very well and joined Nairobi School. In an interview with Daniel Ndambuki on the Churchill show journey edition, Big Ted revealed that he scored a D despite being in one of the best schools in Kenya.
“I got a D despite being at The Nairobi School aka Patch. My dad believes in me so much and thought I was a genius and since I was young I did things first, nicely and precisely and wanted to get the best out of me by taking me to the best schools,” he said.
Immediately after clearing his secondary school education, he got an opportunity to become an apprentice sound engineer working with the likes of Peter Odera, Ted Josiah, Sally Oyugi and Esther Murakinyo. That was his first job and that’s where he got the nickname Big Ted.
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“There was a regular confusion between me and Ted Josiah, so Peter Odera said that I would be Big Ted because I was literally big,” he said.
He would then get an opportunity to work with Kenya’s top event organizer DS Njoroge. He arranged sound systems at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC). It was during this time that he got an opportunity to learn how big shows are put together behind the scenes. He went or nearest or nearest or nearest on to work for Miss Kenya on a monthly salary of Ksh 6,000 and since his rent was the same amount, he had to look for a part time job as a DJ and MC. From his side job, he made an extra Ksh 2,000 per month. Then one day he came across an advertisement in a newspaper of a radio job vacancy which he decided to give it a try despite having no background in the media industry.
“They called me to the interview at Lion Place in Westlands. I had no CV or any background in the media world but I had a lot of photographs of the events I have been to. I showed up and told them this is who I am and this is what I am able to do. They told me to listen, we will call you. They called me a few weeks later and said they would like to give me the job, they then asked me the tricky question – how much I would like to be paid…I said Ksh 20,000 they laughed and said they will give me Ksh 60,000,” he explained.
He joined Kiss FM in 2004 where he worked with big names in the industry such as Caroline Mutoko, Sheila Mwanyiga and Maina Kageni among many others. He worked there for five years before quitting and moving to work for Red Bull energy drink as the Marketing Manager a position he held from 2006 to 2008. He then joined Megascope Healthcare (K) Limited as the Country Marketing and Business Development manager, a position he held from 2008 to 2010. He then quit to establish The Main Event Company where he organized different festivals and events across the country.
Joining State House
In 2013, Big Ted was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to become the Deputy Director of Brand and Strategy at Statehouse. He served in the position for two years until in 2015 when he was appointed the Director of Brand Strategy and Events at the Executive Office of the President. He received the Head of State Commendation (HSC) award for his innovation direction earning millions of Kenyan artist’s enhanced visibility and engagement with the country’s Executive and Legislative players. He holds an Executive Diploma in Marketing from The Marketing Society of Kenya issued in January 2012. Big Ted was recently appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, alongside 23 others to become Kenyan envoys whereby he will serve as Consul-General for Kenya’s Consulate in Los Angeles, United States of America (USA).