EXCLUSIVE: Visionary Woman Behind Citizen TV's Roga Roga Show

  • For a long time, Citizen TV's Roga Roga show has always been associated with legendary radio personality Fred Obachi Machoka.

    However, little is known of the cogs that put the show together, in this instance, producer, Mamou Achimba.

    On Thursday, December 12, the 32-year-old, in an interview with Kenyans.co.ke, spoke on her journey in the media industry.

    Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka and Mamou Achimba (center)

    Who is Mamou Achimba and what is the story behind the name?

    Mamou is just an ordinary girl who loves what she does. She is an editor, a producer but her favourite job is producing the Roga Roga show.

    Once I do something I do it wholeheartedly. Ever since I started working at Citizen TV seven years ago, I have always wanted to do what I love.

    Even when assigned to do what I am not into, I turn it into what I love.

    What is the relationship between your family and what you do, your career?

    I was brought up listening to rhumba, for my father, that was his life. He would not listen to any other music.
    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, rhumba a lot.

    Mamou Achimba on a retreat at the Fred's Ranch and Resort, Isinya, Kajiado County.

    When did you decide to be a producer?

    I never thought I would rise to be a producer though I did TV production as a whole in college. So when I joined Citizen as an intern, I was an editor. I edited highlights. I never knew I would be a producer.

    With time I became good at what I do, that was editing. 

    One day, 2016, when we were launching Music Marathon, it had Roga Roga in it and they had no editor. So I came in as a video editor. But my goodness, the passion I had for the show!

    After one year, the producer left and when asked who could do the show, she said Mamou. And that's how I became a producer for the show, three years now.

    The transition from editing highlights to producing Roga Roga, what were the challenges?

    Not at all. The problem is with knowing the music, but people would wonder how do I even know that song.

    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.

    Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka and Mamou Achimba preparing to go on-air

    Where you a Roga Roga fan before?

    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.

    Do you and Uncle Fred ever differ?

    Most of the time. He has a vast knowledge in the industry and with music, and so sometimes he plays a song and I am like 'no, the youth will feel left out'.

    We can get mad at each other for five minutes, come back talk it out and continue with the show. So sometimes there is that tension.

    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 sho without reconciliation.

    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.

    Mamou Achimba, Uncle Fred Machoka and fellow Citizen TV crew

    Three years as a producer, what are the challenges you are facing?

    First of all, getting clean videos. Nowadays, upcoming artists are doing explicit videos and getting them on-air needs a lot of editing and in the process, they lose the meaning.

    Second, most of the songs, especially those from back in the day are hard to find and people push for the videos, which becomes a challenge.

    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.

    Another thing is the bands here in Kenya, getting the bands over the weekends is a problem.

    Sometimes people could view the show and feel you don't have an understanding of what you are doing, especially the old people when we blend the music.

    I love to blend it in so that the 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.

    Mamou Achimba and Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka

    Where do you envisage Roga Roga in the future?

    I want to see Roga Roga at a place where a young person can run the show and people can relate to the show.

    We have occasionally had young people stand-in for the show when Uncle is not available. Lately, we had a young lady do the show. The feel was different, people really liked the show.

    Uncle has really mentored a lot of people, he has brought people to the show, he has advised me on who to bring to the show before.

    He is a person who wants to see the show hosted by somebody other than him. But he can't exit the scene completely yet because Roga Roga is Uncle Fred.

    We want to bring in a younger person, from next year we want to bring in a younger cohost, someone to bring in a different view on music.

    Mamou Achimba on an interview with Radio Citizen

    Being in the media, obviously, there are ladders you have had to climb, What have been your bad days?

    There have been many, there are times I have wanted to give up.

    Working in the media industry you have to deal with a variety of people, with a variety of personalities. 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.

    What was the inspiration that got you through?

    What has helped me get through them all is because I love what I do. Every day I go to work I do my best.
    I get messages from my bosses appreciating what I do.

    There are times the band comes in late, 30 minutes to air, they have no equipment and you have to put the show together and when you just want to quit, my boss tells me that it was a good show.

    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 Achimba and Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka
    Mamou Achimba and Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka

    Mamou Achimba and Uncle Fred Obachi Machoka