Dr. Ezekiel Mutua is widely known for his strong stance on morality, education and children’s protection against harmful content. In this interview, WoK speaks to him about his illustrious career spanning over 28 years, his new role as CEO of MCSK and how he hopes to change the fortunes of Kenyan musicians for the better.
Tell us a bit about your background
I was born in Ukambani, in Machakos County, a place called Mwala, about 50 or so years ago. I went to a local primary school in the village, then moved to Mwala Secondary school for my O-levels and later joined Tala High school for my A-levels. After that I attended Kenyatta University for my undergraduate degree in sociology and linguistics.
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After that it took me about fifteen years to pursue my Masters Degree. At the time, I had received a lot of job opportunities that kept me busy, in addition to supporting my family and younger siblings.
I later joined the Nation Media Group as a journalist in 1994 and rose through the ranks from a trainee reporter to editor. Later I was elected Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists and joined government later, where I served as a secretary for information in Kenya. About seven years ago I worked as CEO of KFCB for about six years, and later joined MCSK as CEO in April this year.
My experience and my education is unrivaled. I have been a director of many state parastatals including KBC, the Vision 2030 secretariat, and many others. My career spans about 28 years.
You have achieved a lot in your illustrious career. What attributes, in your opinion have helped you achieve all this?
I would say that hard work, integrity, believing in myself and believing that my destiny is shaped by God himself has gotten me to this point in life. Everyday I see miracles. Everyday God is present in my life, and I have no doubt that He has a purpose for my life. Everywhere I have been, I create a conducive ecosystem for career growth, moral values, etc.
Now that you work at MCSK, what do you hope to achieve in your tenure?
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Most musicians are depressed and underpaid. There isn’t so much to show in terms of money. I am restructuring the industry, in a way that ensures that musicians reap from their sweat. It is something I have shaped overtime, and I believe that even in this position, I will be able to create a favorable condition for musicians to make money.
This can only be achieved by creating more avenues of raking in more money. If we get more then we will be able to give out more. I am confident that with my experience, exposure and education-it will help me achieve all the laid out goals for MCSK and Kenyan musicians.
You are very strict on morality when you worked at KFCB, earning you the name ‘Deputy Jesus’ at some point. Where does this stance stem from?
When I was CEO at KFCB, I was merely a regulator. The role required me to apply the law and to create a national conversation. I went to KFCB after serving as secretary of Communication. My decisions there were purely guided by what is allowable by global standards and the constitution. I worked with the understanding to create safety nets for our children. It had nothing to do with my religion or my personal views.
It was solely informed by the intention to protect children from harmful content online. We have been taken to court several times, but we always won the cases. That shows that we worked in line with the law. Regulation is not about controlling people or imposing one’s own interests. It was about doing the right thing, create a national conversation around morality and determine what content is harmful to our children.
What are your thoughts on the new minister of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, and how do you intend to work with him?
In my opinion and experience as a seasoned civil servant, CS Ababu Namwamba is going to transform the industry for the better. On his first and second day in office, I was among the first people to meet him and discuss at length about issues affecting musicians.
To make this work we need the input and support of the government. I believe that with the kind of relationship we are fostering with the ministry, we will get ahead in terms of easier and more flexible engagements between our members and the government at large.
When you joined MCSK, your arrival was met with a bit of resistance from some members. What is your opinion on that?
This is not a love affair. I am in an office, working in the capacity of CEO. I will not dignify anyone with a response. I am confident in my skills and qualifications, and that’s it. I will let my work speak for itself.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind as CEO?
I want to do right by musicians. When I joined the society, I said that my goal is to make Kenyan musicians billionaires, and I stand by that commitment. I have a very good track record, and I am known for transforming every place I work at with an exemplary record. My intention is to do the same with MCSK.