In 2012, Kevin Samuel Mbugua was introduced to our screens as a young talent with a promising career as he graced the local hit drama, Mali.
Three years later, Samuel had turned heads due to his spot-on acting skills amongst a star-studded cast. He would later go on to have a stellar career in theatre, starring in shows such as Changes, Igiza, Crime and Justice among others.
Unknown to many is Samuel’s pivotal role in his younger sister, media personality and extraordinaire, Janet Mbugua’s life as well as the tumultuous past he went through after getting hooked to the bottle.
In a tell-all interview with Cheptoek Boyo, Samuel’s story dates back to Mombasa where he was born and bred. Samuel attended Loreto Convent Primary School in Mombasa before joining Dagoretti High and later Aga Khan Academy.
In 2002, he enrolled at USIU for a Business Management degree before earning a scholarship to study in Atlanta, USA. With an interest in music, Samuel also earned another scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
The 42-year-old later moved to Paris, France where he delved into investment banking and was appointed as a board member at a financial company.
His alcohol addiction began casually as peer influence from his friends who insisted on ‘toughening’ him up. This led to Samuel seeking comfort in both alcohol and hard drugs.
“It really became a problem during the last few years in France which was a difficult time, culturally, personally since it got harder to get the drugs as compared to when I was in Kenya. The alcohol kicked in when I couldn’t access the drugs,” he stated.
At the time, Samuel had two other jobs; lecturing at a university in Paris and being part of a team setting up a startup company. This mounted pressure and fatigue as he had to juggle different things at the same time.
Despite earning a handsome paycheck, Samuel continued with his alcohol addiction until a point in his life when he hit rock bottom. He made a life-changing moment to leave his life in France to seek help back home in Kenya.
“The moment that I know I had hit rock bottom is when I knew that I had to leave France and come to Kenya. While in France, I had a company with two different clients and then I was part of a startup abroad. Basically, I am lecturing at a university in Paris, and also taking a train from Paris to London for building the startup. I had to cross national borders to go to work every day. So I snapped and called my family to inform them that I needed to come back home,” he pointed out.
Samuel noted that his woes mounted despite coming back to the country after he still got easy access to drugs and alcohol without his family’s knowledge.
“When I came back, I was living in the guest house, so I was isolated and could do whatever I want. I could have people dropping off drugs at the place. The last straw was when I woke up the following morning, I started to feel muscle cramps around my liver area and that’s when I realised this is not good.”
Fearing about his health, the 42-year-old made the ultimate decision to seek help.
“I had brought the subject to my family about wanting to get better. I called Aga Khan hospital located in Mombasa and informed them of my condition which involved the thoughts of self-harm. The doctor wanted to know how he could help and informed him to call my father and explain everything.”
Acting swiftly on the matter, his father booked a plane to Nairobi where Mbugua sought psychiatric services. After days of detox, he went to rehab for a month for total transformation.
“Having to drink around certain people was part of my identity, so initially I had to shed my circle which felt like killing off a part of yourself. However, it is interesting because if you continue with the transformation, that part of yourself dies naturally along with the people who loved that side of you,” he noted.
Samuel noted that he is proud of Janet’s achievement who has made strides in the media industry.
“To get to be her older brother is fantastic. I think back to the time when we were young, the conversations that we made and how it has transformed her personality on screen, so it’s great.”