“King of Kenya”: Inside The Mind of Peter Kamanu

Zavian Johnson

Delaware State Hornets athletics have produced well-known names in sports like Darnerian McCants, Shaheer Mcbride, and John Taylor. Those names listed were football players. Sports groups that do not get the recognition they deserve is the track and field team. 100m dash, hurdling, and shot put, they put in the work just as much as the other sports do. But there is one event that doesn’t get looked at but has produced a 4x conference champion. Kenyan-born Peter Kamanu sits down to chat about his future and being the best version of himself every day.

Q- Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?

A- Hi my name is Peter Kamanu. I was born in Kenya, I moved to the US when I was five. During my upbringing, I was always very energetic; I come from a two-parent household. I have one sister who’s older than me. I’ve always been interested in playing sports, I’ve always been an active kid. 

Q-    Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the man/woman you are today? 

A-Um, and specifically the man that I am today, I would say is my father. I think my dad did a great job in instilling a work ethic in me, but also teaching me that men handle certain responsibilities and I have to be able to prepare. I have to prepare myself to be able to handle those responsibilities when the time comes. So while I’m still young and I’m preparing to be a man, I’m following in his footsteps.

Q- What about your family?

A- I guess the other people left in my family are my sister and my mom. They’ve definitely raised me to be a gentleman. They’ve raised me to be a respectable person and then a person who’s worthy of respect. Um, on top of that, I have a lot of aunts, a lot of uncles that all kind of play a part. A lot of Africans will tell you that it takes a village to raise a kid. So, I’ve had a lot of different close aunties and uncles who have also instilled different characteristics within me.

Q- Can you tell us your education history and what your goals or life ambition was when you were a student in High School/College?

Headshot of Peter Kamanu

A- So when I was in high school, I graduated as a business completer which meant that I took all the business-directed courses my junior and senior years that they offered. I took two years of accounting. I took Intro to Business and Economics. From a young age I knew that I wanted to pursue something in business, though I didn’t really know what that looked like because business

is such a broad spectrum of field of study, I guess. But I always knew I wanted to do something in business, whether it means owning my own business or working for someone else, it doesn’t really matter to me at this point in my life. Um, but I know that I want to aspire towards doing something in business from a young age. And now I’m in college studying business management and administration. I’ve been thinking about dipping into some economics as well.

Q-  Can you tell us of your job/education experience prior to what you’re doing now?

A- The majority of my jobs, especially of late, have been warehouse jobs. When I go back home for the summer, I’ve been trying to find an internship that works for me and I’ve had internship opportunities, but as of this year, I wasn’t ready to leave my parent’s house for the summer and go somewhere else for an internship. I think I’m at the point now where I feel comfortable doing that. The majority of the jobs that I was working while in college were warehouse jobs over the summer. Before that, I was working at Arcade for a short term. And I guess before then, my first two jobs were hosting or hosting at Denny’s and this other small company called ROROs, a Mexican and Caribbean restaurant.

Q- What was the most memorable point at that job/school? 

A- I guess Denny’s for sure was my hiring manager. I was the first person that she hired and she was my first manager ever. So I think we kind of had a little connection through that. She taught me a lot about being a host, being the face of the restaurant, being the first person that people see when they walk in, and being a people person. The arcade job was called Fourth Dimension, and I started off there as a doorman during the pandemic. So I was keeping track of how many people were coming in and out of the door so that we don’t go over capacity. That taught me to be, again, another person’s person. You know, always trying to make a connection with the person that walks through the door because you never know who’s gonna come in. You never know who’s having a rough day, but just being able to maybe brighten someone’s day or hold a conversation as you wait for them or as they wait for their next spot in line, I think it definitely helped me.

Q-    Is this where you thought you’d be 5 or so years ago?

A- Five years ago? Well, I was still in high school. I knew I wanted to be in college. I didn’t know where, I didn’t really care where; I just knew I wanted to be on scholarships. So in terms of that, yes, I kind of expected myself to be here, and it was a standard that I held for myself. But, in terms of studying, what I’m studying in particular being the president of the BMI and treasurer of a financial planning club, I had no idea that that was gonna come. Those were opportunities that were brought to me through DSU.

Q-  What informed your decision to do what you’re doing now?

A- A lot of it was or is getting the right influences early on in high school or in college. Getting around the right people, again through BMI, being able to go to networking events where you’re kind of getting your feet wet, and talking with vice presidents and CEOs and realizing the value that comes from networking. Like I said, you never know who’s gonna walk through that door, so getting comfortable in situations like these makes me want to graduate college and makes me want to keep pushing and hopefully get a career because now I can see the people that are at the places that I want to be at and be able to connect with them before I get to that level.

Q- What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on going to the Olympics?

A- So I guess I’m halfway through college, so I’m planning on going four for four again. Indoor and outdoor. If I can do that, I should be making the DSU Hall of Fame for athletics. So that’s in the short-term future or short-term goal for the future. Long-term you know, I wanna be stable  and living on my own by the time I’m 27. Working some jobs where I feel as if I am, I have my feet planted well enough to grow.

Kamunu pole vaulting for DSU

Q- What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on his or her career path?

A- Career path, if that’s all you’re worried about, I think you’re still set. I think if you have an idea of what your field of study is, go for that. In terms of, I wanna work at this company making this much, that can change at the drop of a coin. So you really never know what you’re gonna do.  You never know what company you’re gonna end up going with. Even if you think you do and you have a rough plan, life is life. So things might change and you might have to redirect your route. But in terms of not having a career, I would say definitely keep pursuing your studies, and keep pursuing the opportunities that are open to you in college while you’re still in college.

Q- How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?

A- In America? Oof. That’s a good question. And I’m not sure I’m really capable of answering that. I would say that there’s good and bad about it. I was talking with a professor the other week and I was explaining to him that a lot of the issues that me and other students have is that we feel like we’re absorbing the information and they’re regurgitating it on the test. For fast turnover, I feel like we’re not really learning much, but I also feel like the people who are trying to teach us their lesson plans have good intentions and are doing a good job, especially in providing the opportunity for education in the first place and higher education.

Q- Have you ever traveled outside of the United States? Where, and how does life outside compare to that in the US?

A- I traveled back home to Kenya. The place where I live is in the farm lands so it misses many of the luxuries of life in the US. With that, Nairobi is the capital of Kenya but could be confused for “New York.”

Q- Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of American democracy?

A- I participate in and follow politics to the degree I see fit. I’m definitely the type of person who is more focused on things that impact my life now rather than later, when it comes to politics. 

Q- What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?

A- Hobbies. I like going to the EH and I’ve been kind of teaching myself to play piano in my free time. I feel like it’s important to make use of the time that you have to kind of do things that you wanna do. My schedule can get busy at times, so when I have those 30 minutes to an hour to go play on the keys or a little or go sing for the gospel choir, I do that as well. Extracurricular activities. Activities, as I mentioned before, I’m a part of the BMI. I’ve been a member of the BMI for three years. I was elected president this past year and I just recently joined the financial planning club where I’m treasurer as well. So those definitely keep me busy in my free time. On top of that, I’m still an athlete and I enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. I still like going to the gym and doing what I have to do to keep myself happy and in a good mental space.

Q-  How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is, how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward? 

A- That’s a good question. I think what keeps me moving forward is my desire for more in life. So yes, I’m a college student and I’m on scholarship, but that’s only gonna last these four years. So after these four years, I have to be able to provide a life for myself and eventually my family. So that definitely keeps me going and keeps me motivated. On top of that, I have a family back home in Kenya that I wanna help as much as I can. And where I am now, at this point in my life, I know I can do as much as I can to be successful in my career or whatever it is that I choose to do after college. So those are definitely some of my main motivators. But on top of that, I’m a man of God, so I pray a lot and I know that my lord has my back. So knowing that I’m asking for certain things outta my life, but I also have to put in my half of the effort also keeps me going.

Q- Let us end this interview with a memorable quote from you. How would you describe yourself to the world? 

Complete the sentence: I am…

A- Dang. That’s a good one, huh? I’m not ready for that. “I am Peter Kamanu, soon to be an eight-time MEAC champ. Hopefully to be a Hall of Famer. And I’m just getting started.”

Feet kicked up like a king

Peter has his mind in the right place and is ready to tackle any obstacle that life throws at him. While being a prominent student-athlete and a member of BMI he’ll find a way to make things happen. Best of luck to Peter in his future endeavors.

Categories: Interview, Sports

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