Momagers at the grind
Grace Wachira talked to some mothers who have actively taken up the role of managing their star children
American media personality and businesswoman, Kris Jenner may have laid claim to the word “momager” after trademarking the term in 2017, but this doesn’t mean she is the only momager.
The reality TV star popularised the word “momager” (a mother who serves as her child’s talent manager) when she and her family debuted their reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians in 2007.
Here in Kenya, we have mothers, who have taken the role of managing their children.
Anne Kering’, mother to vocal maestro Nikita Kering’ says the formative years in a child’s life play a crucial role towards their character development. For parents and guardians, it also involves recognising and nurturing their talents.
“As a family, we were and still are keen on ensuring our children excelled in the paths they chose for themselves as we did with Nikita. Starting out 10 years ago was not a walk in the park, still isn’t. I had to make sure she balanced her education and music,” laughs Anne.
Nikita’s songs have received much admiration and accolades. The 19-year-old bagged two awards at the 2019 Afrima Awards and made history as the youngest female Kenyan to make it to such heights.
It’s been said that nobody has your back quite like family. “As a mother, being there for her as her manager and parent was instrumental in keeping her grounded. As a family, we offered her moral and physical support,” she notes.
Anne has particularly been keen on her daughter’s presence online. “She is a beautiful girl and has blossomed into a fine young woman. Yes, she gets all the attention out there, but not everyone appreciates her. We have dealt with trolls and issues of body shaming, but being with her from the onset has built her resistance,” she adds.
Guidance and protection
Anne also doubled up as a stylist and financial advisor. “I can’t completely control her now since she is her own person.
But with time, you understand that children need your guidance when it comes to outfits and which gigs to take and which ones not to. It spills over into what they should do with their money and my primary role was to nudge her in the right direction,” she says.
For gospel artist-cum-manager Rosy Ohon having been in the public limelight herself, she knew how important it was for her to shield her daughter, Joy Ohon.
“I knew my way around the media. I knew as a young and beautiful girl, Joy was bound to encounter challenges. I had seen what lack of guidance and mentorship could do to child stars,” she says.
Rosy without fail accompanied her daughter from when she was seven, when she started out as a Machachari actress.
“I could not afford to have her lose her focus both socially and professionally. In that space, a child will mingle with a lot of adults and children.
We thank God that, Joy, however, did not lose her focus. Even as she explores modelling and all things showbiz, she has remained rooted in her faith,” she adds.
Guarding children’s morals
Roselinder Achieng’, a proud mother of eight-year-old media personality Zawadi Kayyoh says at the end of the day, a star child is still a child like any other. “I accompany her to auditions.
I have to literally block her from seeing some things that I consider inappropriate for herr age. Her morality is never up for debate.
If you look at some of the world’s greatest stars who had their parents by their side, you will notice the difference in their everyday conduct and we are looking forward to churning a remarkable child all-round. We also ensure her school work is never compromised,” Roselinder affirmes.
2018 second Runners Up Tiny Miss World Kenya and first Princess Little Miss Universe Kenya, Samantha Jesus Wambui’s mother, Patricia Kimani notes how important it is for a parent to be there for her child.
“I shield children from exploitation that sometimes comes from exploring talents, and worst of it all is sexual exploitation. Being a mother raising a girl, it’s scary leaving my child with a manager because of the increase of sex exploitation in children,” she says.
“There is nothing wrong with a manager, but we must remember that they may not understand your child better than you do, hence they will try to take advantage of them at some point possibly with their eyes on the price,” she observes.
Apart from being her manager, Patricia teaches Samantha the value of remaining humble even with all the achievement she gets. It’s also important for a parent to be involved in a child’s career and development because it motivates the child when you are on his/her side.
“I am the number one support system my child should have; she should be comfortable sharing her dream and visions with me and it’s my responsibility as a parent to guide her in the right path,” Patricia says.
“Momaging never stops. As a parent, no matter how old or big they get, we will always see them as our children and will still have great influence over how they turn out,” Ann says in conclusion.