When Phelix Odiwuor, or Jalang’o, started his career in showbiz as a comedian, his main agenda probably was to try to improve his odds in life from just being a fisherman in Homa Bay.
His first big break was when he was hired as an actor on the popular TV show “Papa Shirandula”.
He has since built his craft from actor and comedian to MC and now MP for Langata constituency.
His political ambitions came as a surprise to many of his fans who felt that, with his huge success as a radio presenter and CEO of an events company that organises a popular Luo festival, his hands were full.
But having struggled to make a living and build his brand, Jalango claimed that as an MP he would be in a better position to empower the youth.
“A resource centre in every ward in Langata will be a plus for our young people! It will happen!” he said in an interview.
“Langata has always been the creative hub of Nairobi and Kenya as a whole. E-sir is from South C, Wyre, Nameless, Nazizi.”
He was not the only entertainer elected in last week’s elections.
In Mathare North, gospel rapper Eko Dydda is the ward’s new member in the Nairobi County Assembly. Interestingly, his bid for an elective seat, one could argue, was something of a secret.
Unlike his competitors, who covered every open space with posters of themselves, Eko’s campaign strategy was word of mouth.
“I have always been a leader in my community, organising different tournaments, engaging youths and visiting people in their homes and just helping them any way I can,” Eko said.
“Through these interactions, I did not know that I was actually in a way campaigning. Eventually, people started to encourage me to vie since the year 2010 and now here I am.”
Eko’s connection to Mathare is personal. Growing up there as the third-born in a family of four children, life was not easy.
“I have come from a background of extreme poverty; as a family we saw it all. Most of the time, our house would get locked by the landlord because of unpaid rent,” he explained.
“We would seek refuge from different neighbours. We would not last six months at a place before we had to move again.”
Paying school fees was another problem. “I was an A student and I think this is what saved me from being turned away completely,” he said.
“The biggest disappointment I experienced is that at that time bursaries were not given to deserving students, rather they were handed out depending on who you knew. I was never able to get a bursary and these are some of the things I want to change.”
He recalled a time a secondary school teacher paid for his first music and they gave him Sh10,000. Eko laments that Mathare has been misrepresented as a scary place where crime and lawlessness are the order of the day.
But there is a lot that the slum has to offer, he said. “Popular boxer Conjestina is a product of Mathare, Willy Paul and myself. We say people don’t have jobs but we have jobs, we only just need to empower people in small businesses,” he said.
“Revive the Mathare social hall to be a talent hub for the youth. If talent is harnessed when they are still young, then these people will create jobs for themselves.”
For Davidson Ngibuini, popularly known as DNG, the MCA-elect for Woodley-Kenyatta Golf Course ward in Nairobi, his agenda reflects that of his counterparts.
“I have done a lot in the entertainment industry, from radio, TV, music, events, MC, so serving people has been a natural thing for me,” DNG said.
“But it is at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when we had the lockdowns and a lot of artistes suffered financially because of this that I realised we did not have enough representation in government, so I decided to vie to represent my people.”
“I started at the MCA level because I am new in politics and I first want to learn and study the inner workings of government. I would be able to be involved in policymaking and advocating for projects that benefit the youth. My manifesto is anchored in talent empowerment from sports to the arts.”
Comedian John Kiarie won a second consecutive term as Dagoretti South MP.
In the past, artistes would just be comfortable focusing on their trade, but the tide of change came in 2017, when singer Charles Njagua, aka Jaguar, and Mr Kiarie were elected MP for Starehe and Dagoretti South respectively.
Perhaps this is why this year recorded the highest number of artistes plunging into politics, although some lost in their races.
For instance, singer Kevin Bahati, who desperately fought to become the next Mathare MP, lost to the incumbent Anthony Oluoch.
Bahati, who came in third, received 8,166 votes against Mr Oluoch’s 28,098. His campaigns had drama, and at one point, he shed tears on claims that he was intimidated by some members of his party.
Gabriel Kagundu, or Gabu, a member of the P-Unit music group, lost to DNG in the Woodley MCA race. Gabu ran under the Alliance National Congress (ANC) party.
Njambi Koikai, or Fyah Mummah, was looking to unseat Dagoretti South MP Mr Kiarie but lost. She ran as an independent.
Good fortune was also not on the side of Jasper Muthomi, aka MC Jessy. He lost to his competitor Shadrack Mwiti in the contest for the South Imenti MP’s seat.
“To the people of South Imenti constituency, I sincerely thank you so much for the time we have interacted during our campaign time. It has been a great journey. A journey of amazing political adventure. A journey of daring hearts,” MC Jessy said.
“We will continue to engage as we look forward to next time. God willing. I personally want to congratulate my worthy competitor, Dr Shadrack, as he prepares to be the new MP for South Imenti.
“To my supporters, take heart in siasa tu, let’s keep moving South Imenti as one Great Community. God bless you all.”