From the streets of Bondeni Eldoret to the world, this here is the story of Al Black, the Kenyan Jameson Brand Ambassador. And boy is it inspiring. Do you know how sometimes life tends to throw blows at you? The riveting story of this phenomenal guy on his journey along the slippery slope that is; success, will teach you the value of rolling with those punches and learning to throw some of your own.
I mean at some point he couldn’t afford to pay his rent. Now though, he is catching flights all over the world, living large, interviewing bigwigs like T.I and earning his place among the movers and the shakers of Kenya’s entertainment industry. I look at him I think to myself, that is what making it in life looks like.
Caution?: Don’t Despise Humble Beginnings?
Cliche, I know. Seriously though, don’t ever despise small beginnings. His journey with the Jameson brand began with Ksh 300 that was borrowed from his friend, a dream, and an opportunity. Now, the world is his oyster.
Just imagine. Before I tell you about that though, the narcissist in me would like me to tell you about where my journey with him began?. After all, what’s the point of knowing someone famous if you can’t brag about it??
Story Story; Story Come
( I hope you sang that the way we used to as kids and Yes, I think I have a mental condition too. Just roll it?)
The journey to writing this story began sometime last year. With a WhatsApp text from Chief Editor of Eldoret Leo, Mike, asking me to interview the Jameson brand ambassador who’s apparently an Eldoretian. I was over the moon!!!! I think I’ve always wanted to be a brand ambassador so to meet one, kwanza wa such a premium brand felt like a dream come true.
Not to mention he’s young, he’s accomplished, he’s articulate, he’s checking in and out of fancy hotels all over the world in the name of making a living, he’s fun and he has an incredible sense of style.
So we got into contact but it took us like 2 months to finally get a sit down which happened on 7th February at The Well Irish Pub and Restaurant. Yes. I marked the date. Ecstatic is an understatement of how I was when he confirmed the meet. I think nlionyesha all 13 of my classmates hio text ?? and then proceeded to explain, I’m finally going to interview the Jameson brand ambassador kesho. Up to the point of opening his Instagram page kuwaonyesha who I was talking about.
Yani, I really wanted to do this interview so bad. So so bad. And I did, then I chickened out of writing coz I felt inadequate. I’m doing it now though, 3 months later?. In my defense, Wahenga na wahenguzi walisema better late than never. That’s what is important. Heavens please, help me do justice to this story because it’s such an inspiring one.
Anywho, without further ado,
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you, the one, the only, the legendary, (Drumroll please???), AL Black.
We are sitted at The Well’s balcony looking out to the Nakuru Eldoret Highway. True to his brand, he’s drinking Jameson. I order a Tusker Cider. He has a friend with him who is drinking beer, Jemo.
Remember apo juu when I said his Jameson journey started with borrowed 300 bob. This is the friend that lent him that money. They are still tight. Goes to show you never forget your people. Another friend of his, Lenin, joins mid-interview also.
I take a few minutes to pull myself together as I listen to them wakipiga story and then the interview begins…
Steph: Introduce yourself kwa mafans
So my name is AL Black. I was born in West Pokot. My dad is a teacher and my mother was a computer programmer. ( Ik?. I had the same reaction, whose’s mother was a programmer, especially back in the day??!!).
I have a sister, Angela. Growing up, I was the bookworm and she was the joker. Please mention she’s a joker. Luckily jokers Hukua more successful so she’s very successful.
I also have 3 friends I practically consider my blood brothers; Jemo, Lenin, and Erick. Our parents were friends so we grew up very close.
I was brought up in Bondeni by my dad as my mother passed away while I was 6. I remember being very interested in computers so I would grab her books and read them for fun as a kid. I studied in Mohan, then Testi, SOS, Preparatory, and Kipkeino where I did my KCPE and scored 422/500. I went to high school at Maseno got an A- then went to MMUST.
Life In Campus
I used to model as a kid and pursued it further in Campus. I competed in Mr. Western, Mr. Rift Valley, Mr. Tourism, Mr. LA Fiesta and Mr. MMUST. I was also into entertainment so I vied for the seat of Entertainment Director. Did one of the trendiest campaigns in history. Even organized a Subaru Fest in Kakamega imagine! Unfortunately, I lost, by 100 votes.
Haiku kill dream yangu Ya entertainment though. Furthermore, my friends were also into entertainment so the interest stuck. I was studying Software Engineering. I also did a masters in the same and an MBA in Strategic Management. I’m currently pursuing my PhD. (Impressive right?)
Life After Campus
I got my first job as a lecturer. It wasn’t really what I wanted though. Did it for a while then I started an events company with my friend Jemo. Did some events at The Well Irish Pub including Quiz Night if you’ve ever heard of it. Aside from that, the company was failing. Miserably so. I couldn’t even afford to pay rent. I moved to Mombasa where my sister took me in. Little sister mind you. It was bad. I started an alcohol delivery app while there. I’d use my sister’s scooter to go buy booze and do the deliveries. That didn’t work out so great either. Did 1,2 events there but that was about it.
Steph: When did your paths cross with the Jameson team? Like, how did it all start?
AL Black: I always used to look up to the Jameson brand back in my event days coz their events used to have very unique concepts. My first interaction with the Jame team, however, was when they came to Eldoret for their Jameson Connect Tour. Club signature to be specific. I remember calling up my friend King Mellow and asking her to ask the Jameson team if they needed anything. They said they were good. I went for the event anyway.
.@OCTOPIZZO took the house down at Club Signature in Eldoret over the weekend!
Join us for the final pre-party at @BrewBistroKenya rooftop on 30th Nov. See you there!
— Jameson East Africa (@Jameson_EA) November 27, 2017
I didn’t have cash on me that day. My friend Jemo gave me 300 bob. Got a nduthi to tao 50 bob. Entrance ilikua 200. Nmeingia Signature, I only have Ksh 50. Luckily Mike (Chief Editor Eldoret Leo) who was in the VIP section spotted me and invited me for a drink. As we are kicking and chilling, some guy from Jameson tells me they need an MC, how much would I charge them. Sijui where their MC had gone. Excited I tell them nothing. I just took the microphone and went to town.
Unfortunately, nothing came of it. It was just one night of glory. I went back to my failing events company. When things got tricky I moved in with my sister who was living in Mombasa.
Steph: So how exactly did you end up being the brand ambassador?
Al Black: While I was in Coast, a friend who knew I did events sent me a poster saying Jameson was looking for a brand ambassador. I didn’t give it much thought coz I kept thinking to myself the way Nairobi ikona the whos and whos who would automatically be picked.
Hio wiki Tu, my siz and I went out. The club we were at was hosting Jameson Connect 2018. Tulienda mapema though. At around 10a.m. At some point, later on, she stepped out. Kurudi, she didn’t have a band so akakatazwa kuingia. Kuvutana kidogo, I approached a lady from Jameson asked for help. She got my sister in. As I was going to thank her, I found her addressing a group of brand promoters.
To the oblivious hawa ndio brand promoters.
(This hustle has helped me stay sponsor free so far. Plus, it’s usually a lot of fun. But yes, Ik this story is not about me so let’s get back to Allan.)
She was telling the group of girls about a certain job that is so cool but people are not applying. Immediately it clicked. I took out the poster my friend had sent me and asked her if she was talking about that. She said yes. The next day, my sister bought me a shirt and I recorded the required 2-minute video, attached my CV, and sent my application. 6 interviews later, I got the job.
Steph: What’s the best part of your job? I mean apart from flying all over the world in the name of work, cashing cheques, staying in fancy hotels and getting free booze and merch which I assume you do. Also, what exactly does a brand ambassador do?
Al Black: I love everything about my job. I’ve had amazing experiences on it. I’m so blessed to be working for a brand that lets me be myself which to me is the best thing about this job. Jameson is a serious whisky which doesn’t itself seriously. I believe I am the embodiment of this. All aspects of my life have been serious but I don’t take myself too seriously. You know, I can go to work with my dreads and jeans. That’s pretty amazing. I also get to meet so many incredible people. Everything about this job is great.
I do a lot of things including creating brand awareness
training bartenders and bar owners
and organizing whisky tastings
I also head out to our barley fields and distilleries to learn all there is to know about Jameson.
Once in awhile I also Emcee
Steph: What’s the worst part of the job?
Al Black: I couldn’t really say. I love this job including the challenges it presents. Uhm maybe niseme at times people can’t separate when you are working and when you just want to chill.
Steph: What’s the best way to drink Jameson?
Al Black: For Jameson’s original, take a highball glass and put in some ice cubes. Add one part Jameson and 4 parts sprite or ginger ale. To this mixture, add a dash of lemon juice squeezed from lemon wedges and swirl. You can use the wedges to garnish as well. Go for wedges instead of circles which are more popular.
Steph: What’s the best experience you’ve had since you started working for Jame?
Al Black: I can’t pinpoint a specific experience. They’ve all been amazing. Every day brings forth a different experience. Hosting T.I and Hip Hop artist Desiigner was major though! Being interviewed by Spice FM and NRG was also pretty exciting.
Steph: Work aside, are you dating and if no what’s your typa woman.
Single Ladies, I asked this question for you. I mean this brotherman can cook, get down, and get you booze, like botis and botis of Jameson (I dunno about you but this is usually high on my checklist. I’m a passionate alcoholic with misplaced priorities though so there’s that).
He’s also sweet, ambitious, smart and he has swagger.
Al Black: Haha. I respect and value women. They are the reason why we go hard the way we do. I’m not dating at the moment. I, however, have to big up one amazing and incredible woman who was very instrumental in pushing me to pursue my passion but unfortunately passed away. You see for me, it’s very important that the woman I am with understands my nature of work and supports my dream. Dame si conditions. Someone social, outgoing, fun, and friendly.
Steph: How does it feel to make it in life? Are you more sophisticated? Does it ever get to your head?
Al Black: Haha. Different people have different definitions of making it. I don’t think I’ve made it coz for me making it is being able to create an impact. I’m constantly looking at ways I can create an impact.
It’s never gotten to my head. I’m still that guy from Bondeni. Whenever I can, my go-to hang out people are still my friends from back in the day. I am more culturally aware though from the traveling.
My life at times does feel like a dream. I mean imagine if all your dreams come true. I constantly ask myself if this is really my life. I consider myself so blessed and I am so grateful.
Steph: Smack us with some words of wisdom or advice tukimalizia.
Al Black: Believe in yourself. You will fail. Trust me, kuna so many tears and failures lying ahead. You just have to believe in yourself. Don’t be scared to try out opportunities that come your way. For me, prayers also helped. Put yourself and what you do out there. You never know who’s watching.
End of Interview…..
Confessions I Need To Get Off My Chest
So, it took me the longest time to write this article. Mostly because I was scared I wouldn’t do it justice or make an impression. I mean the guy at the center of the story brought in Desiigner and T. I and has been interviewed by the likes of NRG and Spice FM hosts.
He’s a big deal. The stakes were really high and I kept thinking who the fuck is Stephanie? How are you supposed to beat that? How on earth will you even create an impression? But alas, it is over and done with.
Allan, I hope you like it. Also, can we be friends? I figured asking on such a big platform would make it harder for you to say no?. I promise I’m an amazing friend. Also, I want Jameson merchandise and I figured being friends would help me on that front.?
His stories are pretty interesting plus he hosts these contests, where you can win yourself Jameson merchandise like the ones in the video down below. Jameson mzingas too.