What you need to know:
- He wanted to be a journalist or study anything to do with media, but his parents, he says, wanted him to be a teacher –and he did as they wished
- Nothing was as fulfilling to him as having other football fans witnessing his dream come true as Supersport hosted him in a Supersport Football's Premier League Live show
- He started with mimicking Kenyan politicians before he settled on sports commentators, with Peter Drury being his favourite
Everything that is, or was, started as a dream.
And, Arap Uria, as Meshack Kiptoo Biwott is known by his fan base, knows this too well.
He would have been a very determined teacher of Mathematics and Geography in some school within the country. But chalk and blackboard eraser, as fate would have it, were not his bread and butter.
He wanted to be a journalist or study anything to do with media, but his parents wanted him to be a teacher –and he did as they wished.
Nothing was as fulfilling to him as having other football fans witnessing his dream come true as Supersport hosted him in a Supersport Football's Premier League Live show.
“I had never thought that such a moment would come. A moment when my icon, Peter Drury, would praise my work, and refer to me by my name,” Arap Uria told Nation Sport. “It all felt too unreal. I was awed.”
Elated, ecstatic, and excited, he says, it was unimaginable to be hosted in such a platform.
In the clip played on Supersport, the 54-year-old English football commentator heaped Uria with praises.
“Arap, it is Peter here. I really wish I could be with you today, but I am here in Doha to witness the World Cup draw, which is happening today. I love what you do. I am certainly laughing with you. It is terrifically funny. It is superb…I hope one day we may get to meet each other face to face, and you can teach me how to commentate,” said Drury.
As a result of appearing in the show, his followers on social media rose drastically. It had been a perfect culmination of more than two years of hard work to perfect his art of mimicking and lip-synching comments by renowned personalities. He started with mimicking Kenyan politicians before he settled on sports commentators, with Peter Drury being his favourite.
“I later realised people shared different diametrically opposing political views. Politics, unlike sports, is very emotive and divisive. And this is not what I envisioned. I was doing this for fun, and the same energy is all I wished to pass on to my fans,” he explained.
“I did not wish to drop any of my fans because of their political views. That is why I settled on sports,” he added.
If he had a say in whatever he was to pursue in college, journalism or media studies would be his preferred course. While his parents interpreted his creative and athletic nature as a best fit for a teaching profession, he knew his stars would align elsewhere.
Uria graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in 2019. Yet, other than the teaching practice, which was part of the curriculum, he says, he has “never again” stepped into a classroom to teach Mathematics and Geography, which he specialised in.
Born and bred in Muskut, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Uria grew up under the care of his grandfather. He knew his grandfather as a “no-nonsense man”, a man who never minced his words, and tolerated no mediocrity.
“I liked how he wielded power,” he told Nation Sport. “I wanted to be this powerful when I grew up. I like his character so, so much.”
In honour of his legacy, “which I was keen to adapt, I chose to live his character in my skits.”
While performing his art, he dons a brown hat and an oversized brown coat, with a walking stick in his hand. All these are inherited from his grandfather including his stage name –Uria.
He has mimicked several personalities but nothing stirs his soul as much as making Peter Drury skits.
He decided to do his comedy in Kalenjin as it portrayed his grandfather’s character best. Over time, amassing a large heterogeneous audience has forced him to co-perform with Gogo Small, and incorporating Kiswahili and English scripts to his originally Kalenjin skits.
His first Youtube subscriber was his grandfather, Arap Uria, himself, then his father, Joshua Uria. He now enjoys a following of 327,000 on Youtube, with some of his videos having more than a million views, and another 659,748 (as at April 7) on Facebook.
While the future takes care of itself, and he cares least of it, his prayer, is always as short as “Baba fungua milango (God open doors for me). Amen!"