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Meet Cykam, the Poet Who Is Financing His Dream by Selling Sweets While Performing on Matatus

Cykam Storyteller

I don’t normally use the Kenya Bus Services matatus while commuting on route number 46. Instead, I use Citi Hoppa. But while headed to Positively African Book Club last month, I used Kenya Bus. I boarded it because it was almost full, and time was not on my side. Thank God for that decision because if I boarded Citi Hoppa, I would have missed the inspiring story of Cykam, The Story Teller.

Usually, while in a matatu, my thoughts tend to drift into whatever ether is appealing at the time. I pay little attention to hawkers and other activities on board. But Cykam yanked me out of my thoughts and forced me to pay attention.

He got on the bus and delivered a gripping spoken word performance. His performance called me back to attention. I was impressed. But what got me really invested was the fact that Cykam is no ordinary street performer. He was using his art to sell tropical sweets. His goal is to sell enough sweets to buy a camera. A camera would enable him to pursue his dreams of storytelling.

On his shirt pocket is a tag written 47 per cent. The amount of money he has raised up until that day. Talk about having a dream and doing whatever it takes to make it a reality.

Cyprian Kamau

Cyprian Kamau AKA Cykam is a young man from Riruta, Kwangware. Specifically, he was born and raised in Ndwaru. This is where he lives to date. He has a passion for storytelling through film. In fact, he graduated top of his class a little over a month ago from the Kenya School of Film.

Why hawk on Matatus if you have an education?

Cyprian understands that education is important but it’s not enough. He tells me that you can only seek help or assistance when you are already doing something. So instead of begging, he chose to do what he could.

Selling sweets on matatus is a way to help himself and an opportunity for others to chip in. He understands that opportunities cannot find you when you are seated in the house, doing nothing.

He started writing the spoken word in 2016 and performing it in 2017. Apart from performing in matatus, he has performed in many other places, including the Kenya National Theatre at an event known as Poetry after Lunch. He has also performed at All Saints Cathedral at Poetry Pot and at Alliance Francaise, not to mention his hometown, Kawangware, during Free Flow Friday.

A challenge that paid off

But how did he end up on a matatu selling sweets? You know how you wake up really early in the morning because you have an important meeting in town, but upon getting to town, you are stood up. Then you are left wondering what to do with the sudden free time on your hands? That is what happened to Cykam.

But instead of going to the nearest coffee shop and killing time and pretending to look busy, he decided to challenge himself. He had Ksh. 100 in his pocket. He bought ten pin pops and hopped onto a matatu. He hawked the sweets, and the sweets sold. It was a nice challenge, a new experience, but he left it at that and moved on with life.

After a few months, he was running late on rent. He remembered his hawking challenge and thought of giving it another try. This time not as a challenge but to raise money for rent. It was difficult at first. But somehow, he got the idea to perform a snippet of his spoken word before selling. It worked. He cleared his stock and was able to cover rent.

Since he was still in school, he hawked every now and then to make some extra coin to support himself. He then realized this could be an opportunity for him to finance his dream. At the beginning of this year, he committed to selling sweets to raise enough money to kickstart his dream.

Building an Empire

Cykam wants to build a storytelling empire. A creative space where creatives get to tell the African story freely and a platform that will house these African stories. He has an outfit called Stories of Africa, under which he intends be producing documentaries, photography, TV shows, and covering events.

So far, he has done a few projects, including music videos.

His target is to raise Ksh. 150,000 to buy:

  • Camera – Canon M50 Mark II – Ksh. 75,000
  • SD Card – SanDisk 64GB Etreme PRO – Ksh. 2,500
  • KINGJOY VT – 1500 Tripod – Ksh. 6,500
  • Canon Munt Adapter – Ksh. 15,000
  • Shortgun Microphone – Ksh. 6,500
  • XLR Cable – Ksh. 2,500

Cykam has crafted an audience for himself as commuters look forward to his performances. Performing gives him an edge over other hawkers. It is why I even noticed him in the first place.

Stories of Africa

Inspired by Eugene Mbugua, a Kenyan entrepreneur who built the production house behind hit reality TV series in Kenya such as Being Bahati and Get in the Kitchen, among many others, and Tyler Perry, an American actor-writer and producer who built the biggest production studio out of Hollywood, Cykam looks to build Stories of Africa as the ultimate platform for the African story. He believes nobody can tell our stories better than we can.

How You Can Help

To support him, buy his sweets whenever you encounter him on your daily commute. You can also follow him on his socials, Stories of Africa all across. But more importantly, you can give him a boost to get to his target by sending financial aid through MPESA Number – 0798202823 (Anthony Kiarie Kamau)

Also read: From Hawker to Film Producer, Appie Matere on Working Your Way to the Top

 


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