…………………It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again – Wizkid ft. Charlie Puth
This is one of my most favourite sentimental songs for 2015. Incidentally its one sad of a song. It invokes memories of Fast Furious 7 and the car crash that claimed celebrated, leading actor, Paul Walker. Its terribly emotional.
That Mzee Ojwang’ has officially wrapped his time here on earth and that we won’t see him again, reminds me of this song. Even after dying at 78, you realise life is damn short. Let’s appreciate some facts here,
Born in Nyeri District, at some point he dropped out of school due to financial constraints. He worked in Mater Hospital for four years as a theatre technician before joining KBC formerly Voice of Kenya. He stuck here for 44 years. Lived in Mbotela estate, a neighborhood in Eastlands, Nairobi associated with lower class people. Terminated together with other cast members of Vitimbi from KBC about two years ago in what the management called ‘old age’. Died in Kenyatta National Hospital from pneumonia. After 44 years of dedication and commitment to one employer, he didn’t even get a golden handshake! His unrivalled passion in bringing comic to our living rooms since the 70’s shouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the presidents’ handlers to befit him with a Presidential Commemoration, at least.
Sorry, I just lied that I was part of this generation that had their childhood patched with unparalleled comic and laughter for several decades from this legend. I wasn’t. Not that we didn’t have a television. No. We had one, with a conspicuous, orange colour. This must have been my dad’s first asset, soon after he got his debut job. How my dad settled on an orange background colour is something I wish I asked him. If he was alive, this would have been an interesting conversation. What our household and many others in my village lacked, was electricity. It was very expensive, bureaucratic and took ages for one to qualify for a connection. In fact, in a village of about 50 homes, only two enjoyed ‘power’. One such belonged to a veteran athlete in the 90’s named Eric Wainaina. Not the musician though. Google is your friend. The other envious one was and still is a home to a brilliant guy who works in a government institution. Luckily, power came through in the last decade.
So this explains why I wasn’t lucky enough to watch Mzee Ojwang’. Actually many of my childhood friends share the same story only that they wouldn’t publicly admit. I don’t blame my late dad. He was phenomenal and in fact set the bar too high for me. Had he been alive today, I’d engage him with questions like; How he managed to have bought a car (VW car was the in thing then), several acres of land, constructed a nice house and had Friesian cows grazing by, before he hit 30. Dear readers, please ask these questions to your dads. Like what was their greatest achievement at 30. And what were their goals then. This will help you big time, in restructuring your life especially in the financial angle. Many fathers then, saved more and spent less unlike our times; where you are judged by the size of your phone or your loaned car that you’ll pay for 15 years.
Where was I. Mzee Ojwang’ is the Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, Jaramogi Oginga, Harry Thuku and Nelson Mandela of the Art industry in Kenya. He was an epitome of a rare group of Kenyans, whose embodiment was not defined by tribal caucuses. In fact somebody said, Mzee Ojwang’ will be the first Luo to be buried in Central Kenya. That’s how far he was from his native tribe. How I wish we can use our talents for the betterment of others far away from parochial trappings of tribal mindsets. ( It disturbs me when learned Kenyans make fun and continue to cheer the like of Moses Kuria and company).
It’s sad that Mzee’s death was shrouded and shadowed by many low moments. Am sure at some point he felt unappreciated after more than 44 years of unconventional hard work and dedication to this nation. How do you perform for four presidents during national holidays in a span of 4 decades and die a pauper. Art has for long time been neglected in this country. Over the last few years though, the script has been changing. I know of friends who work full time in this industry and are doing very well. It’s politically correct to say the Mau Mau fighters of every noble course die empty handed, sadly.
Though Mzee Ojwang’ was never part of my childhood, his exemplary service to this nation penetrated beyond the TV screens to the villages deep in the rural areas. Kids of those times craved to watch him even when connection to electricity was an impossible dream, then. You’ve left an indelible mark sir. Safiri salama, salimia Molana, tutaonana baadaye!