Older African generations still believe that the path to success is paved with conventional careers like medicine, law, accounting or engineering. Their perceptions, however, are slowly shifting because if there’s anything we’ve witnessed especially post-pandemic, it’s that the future of work is digital and that creative careers are taking centre stage. Careers like James Ndezwa’s.
The world is currently plagued by a huge skills gap. At ADMF, we believe that the most impactful way of solving this lies in targeted workforce development, targeting technical jobs in the creative technology field. James shared in our mission and joined our institute to study sound engineering – an unconventional creative career option for most Africans.
A sound engineer is someone who has nurtured his ear for sound. Think about your favourite song or movie, a sound engineer was involved in the production of what you listen to. Sound is an essential but frequently overlooked factor in our daily lives, the media, and the entertainment industry. That’s what it comes down to – sound. Whether you talk about a concert that left you speechless, a movie with an amazing soundtrack, a theatrical show that gave you chills, or even a video game that had your heart racing thanks to the audio effects and music. It’s all sound. Sound engineering is known as the process of capturing, recording, editing, modifying, mixing, reproducing, and distributing sound utilizing a range of mechanical and digital devices. This is what James Ndezwa does. He engineers sound.
Having had a passion for creating music since his formative years, James became one of our first Sound Engineering alums in 2018. After graduation, he went on to work on amazing projects in both Kenya and Uganda. But which ones did he enjoy the most? “Working on poetry with Nicole Agneta and Ivan Irakoze, leading poets in the country was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have also been part of the sound team for Blankets and Wine, Koroga Festival, Nai Fest, 30 billion Concert, and Jameson Live”
When we asked him what inspires him, James, who is one of the most driven sound engineers we know, simply said “the fear of not being the best”. True to himself, he takes on each project with passion, drive and grit. He currently works at Homeboyz Entertainment as a sound technician. James credits Homeboyz for exposing to invaluable industry experience and the Africa Digital Media Institute for equipping him with the technical skills he needed to thrive in the creative industry.
James’ parting shot to young African creatives was to “stay grounded and open minded”. If you take anything from this story, may it be that with the right tools and guidance, creative careers and non-traditional jobs, like sound engineering, can be sustainable, fulfilling and successful. The sound engineering industry in Kenya is thriving, providing career opportunities for Kenyan youth in film, television, game development, digital platforms, advertising, music studios, theatre, live events, radio, and app development.
We’re proud of you James!