Jalang’o the man: How his father struggled to see him succeed

Jalang’o [Photo: Courtesy]

Felix Odiwuor popularly known as Jalang’o is arguably one of the richest Mcee cum radio presenters in the republic.

He boasts a rich acumen spanning theatre, radio and TV that has seen him land mouth-watering corporate endorsements deals, huge events and doors to busines.

Anchored in all this, is his story of pain, sadness, struggle and sheer hard work from his humble beginnings to be one of the most sought-after talents in the country.

On sadness is the passing of his father.

Speaking to comedian Chipukeezy, Jalang’o disclosed the pain he felt when he lost his father just hours after landing his first gig at Kiss 100.

“When my dad died he told me one thing, I have a letter from my dad before he died because I could not even afford to go bury my dad when he died.

“The same day I got my very first gig at Kiss 100 is the same day my dad died. Caroline called me and told me Jalang’o you are replacing Nyambane when she hung up my mom called and told me your dad is gone. That’s how sad it was for me,” said Jalango.

Born and raised in Homabay, all Jalang’o’s father ever wanted was to see his bright son succeed in life, especially through education. But he was of humble means.

Jalang’o [Photo: Courtesy]

Jalang'o attended Homabay Lake primary school and passed with 427 marks at his O level exams and was subsequently sent a letter to join Maseno National school in Kisumu County.

Living with meagre means, his father could not afford to pay his secondary school fees immediately and instead organized an harambee and solicited funds for school fees.

One week later they made the 200 kilometres journey from Homa Bay to Maseno School only to be told that his chance had already been given to another student.

They went back to Homa Bay disgraced and disappointed but his father was not about to give up yet, he decided to enrol him to Bar Kanyango secondary school in Siaya County.

Jalang’o’s father toiled to put him through Bar Kanyango by paying fees through the supply of beans, maize and firewood; a reality the comedian said he was often embarrassed about.

He finally managed a C+ in KCSE exam and on inquiring whether he was to join University, his father laughed so hard.

“My son, you have just seen the toil and struggle I have gone through to take you through your high school studies, what in your same mind thinks I can afford to pay your high school fees?” Said his father.

Jalang’o [Photo: Courtesy]

The words broke him but he knew were true so he decided to become a fisherman in Lake Victoria.

One day his father called him and told him, “My son I know this is not the best for you, take this my two shirts, two pairs of trousers and 800 shillings, go to college and go be a man”.

That was the beginning of his journey to Nairobi where he was hosted by one of his relatives who lived in the posh Lavington estate.

At Lavington, he was virtually converted into a houseboy and after a while Jalang’o decided enough was enough and moved to Quarry, Embakasi, to be with his uncle.

At Embakasi he did menial jobs such as ‘kazi ya mjengo’ to counting sweets in order to put food in the table while trying out at the Kenya National Theatre.

As fate would have it the theatre group he worked for was to stage a Swahili set book titled “Mwisho Wa Kosa” but the main cast was a no-show.

He stepped up and as they say, the rest is history.

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