The success story of former Vivacell Talent Search participant
By: Charles Lotara
The country’s entertainment realm has a pool of talents ranging from music, poetry, art works – the list is endless. But there’s something odd, a negative perception directed towards participants in these categories and in particular, the music arena.
Quite often times, people rush to conclusion that events like talent shows draw participants who are either hustling and bustling to make ends meet in life, or people who are not just responsible and decent enough to take charge of their destinies.
If you’re one of those aligned to such thinking, this story of Kenyatta Kozzia, an artist and a former Talent Search participant will leave you with mud on your face.
After a successful completion of Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2012, Kozzia felt it was time to come back to South Sudan to look for scholarship opportunities to farther his studies. However, things didn’t work as planned.
“I needed to get a scholarships being offered in the country. At that time South Sudan was celebrating her first year of her independence,” Kozzia recalled.
“There were myriad of opportunities with regard to scholarships being offered. There were scholarships to South Africa, Morocco, Malaysia, Egypt, India and many countries. In particular I was eyeing for Malaysia,” he told Juba Monitor in an email.
Kozzia’s quest to secure an academic sponsorship was met by rough fate after his first application for Malaysian scholarships was turned down. “I was broken, my expectations were ruined. It took me like four months to think of what to do next,” he narrated.
Frustrated by a humpy life in Kakuma Refugee Camp and the thwarted scholarship acquisition attempt, Kozzia opted to flip the next chapter of life, joining the entertainment industry.
The Talent Search audition 2013, a show produced by the South Sudan Artists Association and Talent 5, and sponsored by the now vanquished telecommunication network Vivacell was another hope for Kozzia.
“After four months, a friend of mine came to me with good news. He told me that 2nd edition for South Sudan Talent Search 2013 auditions (Sponsored by Vivacell) are ongoing and I need to give it a try. I was very excited with the news since singing had been part of my life,” he said.
The grand price for the winner was 15,000 SSP that was the equivalence of $5,000 at bank rate at the time, First runner-up was given 8000 SSP ($2,600) and second runner-up was walking away with 5,000 SSP (about $1,600).
“This was good money for me. So, I started imagining winning the grand price and starting to pay for my tuition fees. That anticipation was thrilling and I gave it my all. I did the audition, I thrived through 12 stages including the grand finale,” he said.
Misfortune followed Kozzia, his name did not appear on the list of the winners, and further sending hope crumbling.
“I gave it my all, I sang my heart out but still couldn’t make it. I started blaming God for not seeing my worth. I was in devastation, I didn’t have any palpable plans,” part of Kozzia’s email continued.
On 15th December 2013, t was December war broke out and Kozzia I fled to Nairobi with a plan of going to Kakuma Refugee Camp to apply for WUSC scholarships which were backed by Canadian government to help the refugee students advance their studies.
Like the rest of the plans, Kozzia who participated with stage name Kenyatta Kozzia #19 went to Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2014 to try his luck. Just like the rest of plans, this did not materialize.
The fortune-seeking guy would travel back to Nairobi where he managed to apply for Actuarial Science in School of Mathematics at University of Nairobi before deciding to get back to Juba to look for a job within three months in order to raise enough money to pay for cover his tuition fees.
There appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel. Kozzia got admission for the aforementioned course. He couldn’t afford the exorbitant fees and his brother had to come to his rescue and save the first semester in which Kozzia started attending lectures.
His brother’s financial intervention was however short-lived. Things turned sour, sometimes Kozzia had no transport fare, sometimes it’s the money for assignment print out that he lacked, and eating became a luxurious phenomenon.
“At some point I had to choose to either eat or print assignment whose due dates will be looming,” he said.
Kozzia deferred he was pursuing at the University of Nairobi after the South Sudan State television announced there were scholarship offers to Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Pakistan.
“When I saw the news I deferred the course I was pursuing at UoN and took a hard decision to go to Juba and apply for the scholarships. This was the final chance for me. Had I not been selected, I would have joined army and thrown the books away,” frustrated Kozzia said.
At last, there was hope on sight. This time, Kozzia applied for Zimbabwean scholarships and got admission at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) where he would pursue a Bachelor of Commerce Honors Degree in Risk Management and Insurance.
Again, the above success came after a failed admission in pursuit of Diploma in Pharmacy at Bahhauddin Zakariya University (BZU) in Pakistan due to what he called “some mismatched arrangements between the government of South Sudan and government of Pakistan.”
In May 2019, Kozzia and other South Sudanese who were on government sponsorship in Zimbabwe graduated in November 2019. Prior to his graduation, Kozzia came back to Juba to look for jobs.
With a Bachelor of Commerce Honors Degree in Risk Management and Insurance from an accredited University, Kozzia is working with CIC Insurance Group.
Like Chris Kirubi says, “You’re going to run into obstacles occasionally. You’re going to have days where nothing goes right. You’re going to fail. Don’t let failure derail you from achieving you bigger goal. Keep taking steps every day. Fail forward. Make your week count.”
Charles Lotara is a blogger, digital researcher, and self-taught web developer who’s also passionate about both positive and negative developments happening within the technological realm. Questions or comments? Reach him via email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @charles_lotara