Mamou Achimba is a media producer at Royal Media Services (RMS). She is behind the iconic Roga Roga show – one of Kenya’s best and most outstanding music programmes, which airs on Citizen TV. The show is hosted by legendary media personality, Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka.
Roga Roga, which is among the most-watched television shows in Kenya, plays Rhumba music predominantly. It airs on Saturdays between 11 am and 2 pm.
While many may be accustomed to Uncle Fred Obachi as the face of the show, Mamou leads a team of vibrant crew members that ensure the success of the show day in day out. In this article, WoK takes a look at Mamou’s career profile.
During an interview with Kenyans.co.ke in 2020, Mamou revealed that her love for Rhumba music was influenced by the household she grew up in. She intimated that her father was a huge fan of Rhumba music and that is even where he got the name “Mamou” from.
Rhumba was predominantly played in their house and as a result, she became a fan as well, and this has helped her professional career a lot.
“My father got our names from the music he listened to. My siblings also have Lingala names. Whenever my father saw me, he would sing the song Mamou by Franco, word for word.
“He loved the name and that’s how I was named Mamou. So I grew up in an environment where we listened to Lingala, and rhumba a lot,” Mamou narrated.
Mamou first joined Citizen TV as an intern, at the time, she only edited highlights and never thought she would, later on, become a producer. With time she became good at her job.
At one time in 2016 when they were doing the Music Marathon, Roga Roga was on the line up but the producer was not available, so she was called upon to step in and she did a great job.
Her big break came a year later when the show’s producer left and when asked who would take over, she recommended Mamou.
The transition from editing highlights to producing one of the best music shows in the country, she says, was not a difficult task, since she was already good at her job.
“Fitting in was not a problem at all. Listening to rhumba is something I do. Even when am not working, I listen to rhumba. So when I was told to edit and produce it, it was not a problem because of my background,” Mamou stated.
Besides, she was already a huge fan of the Roga Roga show, so the task ahead of her became more interesting to take up.
“I used to love Roga Roga when it was only on the radio. It was awesome, I used to look up to it. When I came to Citizen, I would see Uncle Fred pass by and I would look up to personally meeting him,” she said.
Working with one of the best in the media industry in the name of Uncle Fred Obachi, one would think that Mamou has to be a yes girl, but she is not. At times, they differ on a number of issues regarding the show, for instance, the selection of music when she says it excludes the younger generation and vice versa.
However, like any good dynamic team, they always communicate and find a commonplace in every matter for the betterment of the show.
“But what I like most about Uncle Fred is that if you wrong him, he will tell it to you. Most importantly, he would not let you do the next show without reconciliation,” Mamou said.
“He sits me down, tells me I don’t like what you did, this is what we should do, this we shouldn’t do.
“It was hard at first but getting to know him, he has taught me to be patient, how to relate with people,” she added.
Rhumba is sometimes presumed to be a music genre for the older generation, but since joining the show, Mamou has made a lot of effort in having the younger generation feel included. They have had a lot of younger artists perform live on the show as well as play their music.
She has also had younger hosts stand in for Uncle Fred whenever he is not available.
Like any other show business, Mamou notes that Roga Roga has its fair share of challenges some of which include explicit videos by some of the new artists in the music industry.
Another problem she says is the lack of videos on some songs. A number of fans request songs whose videos don’t exist, and for a TV show, this becomes a problem when you cant meet the requests of the audience. She also states that getting hold of some foreign artists can be a problem.
“Most of these people (artists) are not from Kenya so it is hard to contact them and bring them on board. Fans want to see celebrities. When you talk about Fally Ipupa, they want to see Fally.
“When they do come, the language can be a barrier. Some of these guys don’t speak either of Swahili or English, but Uncle has been instrumental in this. He translates the language for me because he knows Lingala,” Mamou stated.
Mamou also notes that getting hold of local Rhumba bands to perform during the weekend can be a problem. She also notes that when they blend the music, the older generation may sometimes feel that they don’t have an understanding of what they are doing.
“I love to blend it in so that young people don’t feel isolated. So we are on a platform where people can call and ask, is that really Rhumba?
“At the same time, we try to incorporate the local rhumba with international music so that people don’t feel that we have abandoned Kenya,” she said.
Mamou also notes that working in the media industry has a number of challenges, some of which are personal since they deal with a variety of personalities on a daily business.
“At times you feel like you are doing the best you can do but there are people telling you not good enough.
“There are times those trying to bring you down succeed and you want to quit. The media has a lot of people and you have to live with all these people. It has not been easy,” Mamou stated.
Mamou states that she gets her inspiration from the work she does and from the encouragement she gets from the people that value her work. She also attributes her success to Uncle Fred and her boss.
“I lost my father and sometimes you need somebody to talk to. Uncle Fred has really been there for me.
“I have a boss named Latifah, she believed in me even before I became a producer. She saw my potential,” Mamou stated.