Malawi Millionaire Broadcaster Gospel Kazako

If you live near the wonderful lakes of Malawi, your metaphors of success are likely to include references to the importance of traversing big bodies of water.
At least that is how broadcaster, entrepreneur and poet Gospel Kazako speaks.
"In life you always have to believe in what you want to achieve. It doesn't matter whether there are certain things that will be impeding that vision," he says.
"You have to believe that you can swim across big rivers, big lakes. That's what made me go on, and that was part of my drive."
For many years, Mr Kazako worked for the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation but his goal was to set up his own radio company.
He told the BBC's African Dream series that as soon as he joined the state-run corporation he started enquiring about the price of microphones and transmitting equipment.
"I had the view that one day I would have my own national radio station, probably bigger than the state-controlled radio," he said.
Top budding entrepreneur
He eventually left the security of his employment and, to make his dream come true, created a small production house that recorded - among other things - music, soundtracks, and adverts.
Then he bought his first transmitter and in 2005 he launched the Zodiak Broadcasting Station which now reaches the whole country.
Nearly 75% of its programmes are broadcast in Chichewa, Malawi's main language, which is also spoken in neighbouring Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Mr Kazako is a poet of note in Chichewa.
Zodiak Broadcasting Station has more than 25 transmitting sites.
Five years ago, Mr Kazako was chosen as the top budding male entrepreneur at Malawi's Diversity Leader Awards.
He was commended for setting up "a radio station truly aimed at the whole of Malawi. Where most independent radio stations targeted the urban areas, Gospel's Zodiak Broadcasting aims to educate, inform and entertain those who need it most."
"He continues to revolutionize radio broadcasting through constant introduction of creative and innovative programmes," the award citation continued.
'Don't think of banks'
Mr Kazako's own gospel of success is that you have to be disciplined, you must be excited about your vision, you have to be slightly crazy, you have to be strong, and "above all, you also have to believe in God."
But what about the money to start your business with?
"If you want to move forward never think of figures," he told the BBC's Joel Nkhoma in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe.
"Figures will always pull you backward. Someone will say you need a million dollars. Sometimes, you have the vision but you can't figure out how you can get the million dollars."
"And don't think of banks. If you think of banks, they will stifle your idea because banks in Africa are very segregative. They are just interested in the people who already have the resources."
"What you need to do is believe in your idea, work very hard, save the little that you are making within that vision, and start slowly, little by little. I can assure you: you are going to cross the Pacific."
African Dream is broadcast on the BBC Network Africa programme every Monday morning.
Every week, one successful business man or woman will explain how they started off and what others could learn from them.

Behind the success of media mogul Kazako

BLANTYRE--At 43 Malawian poet-cum-broadcaster Gospel Kazako may be among the richest young men in Malawi but the millions he has accumulated haven’t disconnected him from his humble beginnings

Kazako, owner of one of Malawi's most successful private radio station - Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), calls himself a complete person.

"I'm a complete human being because I have experienced what it means to be poor and what it means to be rich," he tells in an interview Monday. "Some people don't know how it feels to be poor. The majority of policy makers throughout the world haven’t felt the real pain of the poor."

Born on December 29, 1968 to a watchman father and an unemployed mother, Kazako calls himself one of the luckiest people in the world to realise his dream despite his humble beginnings.

"I have always considered that everything is possible," he says. "Everything you have seen in this world mean it can be done, there is a possibility it can be done."

Starting off at the state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Kazako says he noted that there were gaps in the broadcasting arena that someone had to fill. He says there were a lot of limitations not only in political reportage. For instance, he says other radio stations that emerged after the fall of one-party dictatorship in 1993 had the elite in their mind as their target audience.

"I thought I should target people without money," he recalls. "I thought radio was fluid, it can change everything if managed well."

He says it didn’t take time for ZBS, which was established in 2005, to find a foothold in Malawi because its target audience - the poor - are in the majority. For five years running ZBS has been the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) Electronic Media House of the Year. Its journalists have also ended up finalists at the CNN/MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Award.

And because of the trust it has among the majority in Malawi, against all odds, the Malawi Electoral Commission - in consultation with all political parties in Malawi - chose ZBS to become the official broadcaster for the 2009 general elections, not a small feat considering that the state-run MBC was seen as an automatic official broadcaster for any elections.

Kazako says ZBS's secret is that it understands the needs of its target audience.

"We speak their language, we communicate easily with them and in us they’ve a trusted friend who can tell them the truth which the rich try to suppress."

Kazako says throughout the world the rich try to oppress the poor by disorganising them with distorted information.

"You can't oppress an organised entity, that's why the rich try to continue disorganising the poor by giving them low-quality education so that they continue being oppressed," he says.

Kazako says it is the mission of ZBS to empower the poor with the truth so that they can get organised.

"It's not enough to say we are not biased; as broadcasters we should strive to give our audiences the untainted truth," he says. "By telling the truth we are not looking for (political) change, no, we want transformation. If you want transformation you need true and accurate information that is not tinted."

Perhaps this has its downside. Ahead of Malawi's unprecedented anti-government demonstrations, in which 19 people were shot dead by police, a group of hooded hoodlums attacked a ZBS outside broadcast van and torched another of its saloon vehicles. No arrests have been made so far but Pres Bingu wa Mutharika accused ZBS "and other hostile" broadcasters of fanning the demonstrations.

However, Kazako refuses to blame to anyone for the attacks.

"We try to stand for truth to the extent that even if they bash us we don't react, we've not reacted after we were attacked and we refuse to blame anybody because we don't know who our enemies are...if any," he says. "When you stand up after being attacked it means you're spoiling for a fight. We refuse to stand up because those who try to oppress the truth are very powerful and we definitely will lose if we dare them."

He adds: "We know our mission is far beyond the pain they may inflict on us."

Kazako always goes back to the issues of poverty because, according to him, he understands it.

"I [was] a poor person for a long time so I know how to manage poverty better than riches," he says. "In fact I survive better in poverty."

He isn’t abashed about recalling going up poor. He slept without a blanket, sometimes had no food to eat and went to school with a single pair of trousers. He is obviously happy that his two sons and a daughter are well provided for but he makes sure they don't take things for granted and reminds them that there are always people who don’t “have anything to eat the whole day."

He agrees with the richest man in Scotland, Tom Hunter, who said during a visit to Malawi that "when I'm gone I would like to leave enough for my children so that they shouldn't go without food but not too much that they may not see the reason to work".

"That's the spirit," agrees the youthful Malawian media mogul.--maravipost

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