The Kenyan entertainment scene has metamorphosed since the 70’s to date. Back then they was only one TV and Radio station that ruled the airwaves under the control of the state. Kenya Broadcasting Company (KBC), then known as VOK, was the sole provider of news that was skewed in favor of the government. The powers that be dictated the kind of music we listened too-such genres as reggae were a no-no. Nevertheless we had broadcasters who made Radio fan like Job Isaac Mwamto, Amina Fakhii, Khadija Ali in Swahili Service and the likes of Hassan Mazoa, Sammy Lui in the English Service. KBC TV had the likes of Ojwang, who are still active and others who passed on. Here are some of the celebrities of yore:
Ojwang: Pioneer Kenya Comedian
Mzee Ojwang and Mama Kayai
Comedy in Kenya is synonymous with Benson Wanjau alias Mzee Ojwang Hatari, as we have come to know and love him. For over 30 years the thespian has featured in the then hugely popular Vitimbi program that brought humor in our living rooms. Vitimbi show that is aired on KBC was at one time the most watched TV sitcom in the country. It appealed to the young and old alike thus the status Ojwang enjoys to date as one of Kenya pioneer comedian. Vitimbi program has over the years remained relevant and the troupe is a permanent feature in public holidays and at national functions where they entertain guest including the head of state. Courtesy of the comedy show, Ojwang who is in his 70’s, has travelled to the US, Germany and Tanzania to meet and perform for his legions of fans. On set Ojwang is married to Mama Kayai but in real life his wife is Agusta Wanjiru. The couple is blessed with two children, Patricia Njeri, and Michael Karira.
She is the faithful wife to Mzee Ojwang who was always cleaning after the errant her husband. Unlike the husband she was the voice of reason. When Mzee Ojwang Hatari was preparing for a fight, Mama Kayai calmed him down. The couple gelled so well on the Vitimbi Show and the two have been ‘together’ for over 30 years since the inception of the program. In an interview granted to Passion Magazine, Mzee Ojwang Hatari, revealed that he met and started acting with mama Kayai over 30 years ago.
The late Tony Msalame was nothing short of a revelation in the local entertainment scene. Those born in the 80’s fondly remember the immensely popular Tushauriane TV series that had us glued to our TV sets. The cool, suave and intelligent comedian, actor cum broadcaster was to later host Sheki legi on the now defunct Metro FM that further confirmed him as the best in his game. Being the ambitious guy he was, Tony Msalame, went on to start his own radio station. Sheki FM Radio station was so popular in the Coast that all the matatus were turned in the radio station. BBC was to choose Sheki FM and Star FM to partner with them in airing some of their programs. Tony Msalame daughter, Grace Msalame has followed in his father’s footsteps and she is a media personality working with KISS TV.
Fred Obachi Machoka
His popularity in the 80’s was akin to that of Maina Kageni today. Fred Obachi Machoka was a breath of fresh air. He was the brains behind the first interactive music program in Kenya where he featured who is who in the African Music scene. The blackest man in Africa as he liked to refer to himself hosted the show on the state broadcaster. His other popular shows included ‘Ugua Pole Na Lucozade’ where he visited hospital and gave out Lucozade and a get well card. The veteran broadcaster is currently with Citizen Radio where he hosts Roga Roga which is enjoying positive reviews.
Veteran broadcaster: Leonard Mambo Mbotela
If they is one Radio personality who doesn’t seem to fade away then it is Leonard Mambo Mbotela. The veteran broadcaster hosted Idhaa ya Taifa on the state broadcaster. His eloquence in Swahili and delivery made Je huu ni Ugwana the most listened program on Radio since its inception 1966. Mbotela was part, albeit unwillingly, part of the foiled attempt to ouster the then President of Kenya Daniel Arap Moi through a military coup of August 1, 1982. He was forced at gunpoint to announce on the state broadcaster that the coup was a success. Currently Mbotela hosts a dramatized Je huu ni Ugwana on KBC.