Kokou Wilmot Kah
Struggle is a word that hasn’t played a very significant role in many Bethel students’ lives, but for Kokou Wilmot Kah, struggle seemed to be a word he couldn’t escape.
The 21-year-old Liberian native is an aspiring… wait, let’s back up. Yes, that is correct. Behind every person is a story, and behind Bethel University sophomore to whom you know as Will Kah, his story begins in a tribe in Liberia, Africa just 15 years ago. Raised by his grandma and two uncles, their family saw the best future in America. With no money and a tribe that lacked bringing Kah the future his grandma desired for him, they picked up and came to North Minneapolis where he was rejoined with his mother and other family members.
From Africa to Minnesota, this flight changed his life in more ways than one.
Ages six through 11 didn’t come much easier. Living in a two bedroom house filled with 11 people, being surrounded by violence every day, and having to wear the same clothes week in and week out, the struggle continued.
Now back to the life changing flight. Kah heard the love of his life for the first time, that love was hip-hop. With Lil’ Bow Wow blaring through his headphones, his passion was soon to be found. Kah’s uncle was a poet and music enthusiast. “I don’t remember a time we were together where there wasn’t 2 Pac or Bob Marley playin’,” Kah laughed.
This became a meaningful role in his future, and at age nine he decided to give this music thing a try for himself. The newly English speaking boy found that he had a heart for music, and once he was 12, he realized that this was what he wanted to do with his life. Kah says that he remembers freestyling with his cousins to Young Joc beats about money, cars, and girls, but now it’s a totally different story. The three things his music is filled with now are his life experiences, what he sees, and what he wants his listeners to feel. He continued to speak more about his music, saying:
“Music became my centerpiece. When I’m down, I go to hip-hop more than I go to Christian music, ‘cause that right there relates to me a lot. I can feel it, you know what I’m sayin’? And I feel closer to God when I listen to it because it’s just the way I’m able to relate and how I roll. Music is how I express myself. I mean sometimes, damn when I’m down or whatever, I’ll just worship to rap through a freestyle. Sometimes I’ll even rap to God, ‘cause that’s just how my life forms.”
So what happened in that large gap between the 12-year-old freestyler and the 21-year-old lyricist/ Bethel student we know today? A lot. After his uncle and father figure was sent to prison and deported back to Africa, he, his mom and his grandma were able to find the means to move into a small apartment in the Suburbs. It was here that he would say his eyes were opened to a whole different world. From being stuck inside all day to avoid violence in the hood, Kah was now able to play basketball in the park and get acquainted with his athletic side.
And just as everything was starting to look up, when Kah turned 16 his mom found a man that she decided she was going to marry. Soon after that, his grandma, the woman who raised him, left to live on her own to get away from the man her daughter married. It then reached a point where Kah had felt the same way his grandma did, and after giving his mom an ultimatum, she decided to abandon her son. Kah, now homeless, couch hopping at friends’ houses every night, had nowhere to turn. He continued to do high school, music, work a job at Little Caesar’s, and captain his varsity football team. It was also during this “shitty” year as Kah put it, that he also had his life take a turn for the better. Still had no home, no family, and no recording studio, but one thing he did have was God. He became a Christian that year, and although God was now a part of his life, things didn’t get better, but his outlook on life did. “When everyone was leaving me, Jesus never did,” Kah declared.
About a year later though, things did get better. A few years back, Kah and his family received food from a women that was helping people in need, and little did he know that three years later he would call her his mom. On December 15, 2012, Lauren Moberg and her family took in “Kokou,” as they call him, and has now become a part of their family. He is still considered to be homeless because they didn’t technically adopt him, but he says that he will always call their place home. The Moberg’s convinced Kah to check out Bethel, and when he did, the newly found Christian decided this would be where he wanted to continue his academic, musical, and athletic career. His grandma always told him how important education was, so this was his way of thanking her.
This whole thing started with a simple question about his music, “What inspires you?” And this was his answer.