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Exclusive: All about the rehabilitation gambling addict Baha will undergo

When Johnika Foundation first reached out to actor Tyler Mbaya, popularly known as Baha, over his gambling addiction, he admits he was skeptical.

The foundation, created to address the harmful effects of gambling in Kenya and raise awareness about responsible betting, reached out to the actor after his story trended online for weeks.

But when he realised his options were limited, Baha, who was once the star of the TV drama Machachari, decided to accept the helping hand.

Baha has now revealed that has began his rehabilitation programme in the care of Ms Sylvia Raywe, a Clinical Psychologist with the Integrative Holistic Psychotherapy in Karen. Ms Raywe was approached by Johnika Foundation and Pakamia sports betting company for rehabilitation programme that will take 90 days.

“Baha came to my office on Wednesday for an assessment because there are different categories of gamblers. If you get into the problem of gambling, usually there is a underlying issue for most people. I needed to do an assessment to rule out a number of things. We did find some things which I am not at liberty to talk about and that is what he now has to work on,” Ms Raywe said.

Also read: Exclusive – Machachari’s Baha reveals how gambling addiction affected his life

Part of Baha’s rehabilitation will involve him seeing a psychiatrist to address the underlying reasons that led to his gambling addiction.

“He will also continue with therapy where he will undergo cognitive behavior therapy and gaining some behavioral skills to help him cope with gambling and actually stop it because he’s actually a problematic gambler. Since gambling is now online, I told him he needs to be off social media and reduce his phone usage for now because he has a problem with it,” Ms Raywe said.

From left: Clinical Psychologist and Research Consultant Sylvia Raywe, former Machachari actor Tyler Mbaya aka Baha, Johnika Responsible Gambling Foundation founder John Kamau Kung’u and Pakamia Limited Managing Director Evans Rabongo after attending a media briefing at Boulevard hotel in Nairobi on June 9, 2023 concerning Baha’s betting addiction. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL

“Those are the things we are going to have problems with. We are going to see how he does that and I asked him about a person who will be responsible for him when he is at home to help him manage his phone use and being off social media as part of the plan. His phone use and social media access is part of an ongoing conversation on compromises that will be made in light of him having brand partners and earning his income,” she said, adding that in most addictions, a person has be removed from what is making them addicted.

The person then gains skills to manage the particular challenge so that they can slowly be reintroduced into an environment in which gamboling exists but not participating in it.

Also read: Clout chasing! Georgina and Baha featured in new video after gambling ‘scandal’

According to Ms Raywe, having Baha stay off his phone and social media, where he went viral, will prevent him from getting triggered, feeling worse about himself and his circumstances; and relapsing into gambling.

She is also of the opinion that for some gamblers, it’s not about lacking role models to guide them because some times, it is what someone goes through makes them find crutches for quick solutions. For Baha, that was gambling, something Ms Raywe believes gave him something to hang on to, a high and an outlet to express his frustrations before it became addictive.

So far, Baha said he’s been channeling the embarrassment he underwent once he was exposed online to prevent himself from gambling again. For now, his phone use is limited to WhatsApp where he chats with his friends, trying to reconnect with them after cutting them off at the height of his addiction.

Baha has also promised to work on his addiction as his top priority, get back into mainstream acting and creating content for his YouTube channel; and work to raise awareness among the youth about overcoming gambling addiction by using his experiences.

Also read: Nurse Judy – Why I exposed Baha’s financial drama

Earlier on, Baha exclusively spoke to Nairobi News about how he became addicted to gambling and resorted to lying to people about having life problems so that he could get funds to maintain his habit.

“I’m an actor by profession, I’m a young dad and I’ve been struggling with the underlying issue (gambling) for a while and I’m willing to seek help. I found myself deep into gambling because of a series of bad decisions that piled up to a point where I feel that my finances were crippled so I was trying to get fast money – which was pretty much gambling,” he said.

“The finances were not necessarily for bills because my shawrry (girlfriend) was helping out, so majority of it was now the elevation of getting from one place to the other – because of the pressure of society’s expectations. If it was basic needs, that was all sorted out. I was also managing on my own because basic needs were not things I was unable to hack. It was the luxuries in life that I was lacking and I was under pressure to search for them,” he explained.

Also read: Oga Obinna asks Kenyans to be kind to Baha amid financial woes