Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Makokha Makacha: My rise from street boy in Nairobi to legendary comedian

Back in the days when TVs were the next big thing, around the turn of the century, some of the top shows were those featured by Kenya Broadcasting Company, such as Vitimbi and Vioja Mahakamani.

One prolific name which stood out at the time and was featured in these shows was Alphonce Makokha Makacha. His real name, Mathias Keya, the huge dread-locked man was a top entertainer for the show’s avid followers.

He starred in the show, which propelled his name to legendary status as a comedian on Kenyan screens. Makokha’s fame was so vibrant that he found himself seated at the table with leaders and the president, thanks to his antics and talent.

His earliest recollections of this talent go back to his upbringing as a child in Kakamega. Makokha recalled when in class 3 at Dr. Kraft primary school, he had already started to participate in music and drama festivals, which at the time he took as a hobby.

Later his parents relocated to Maringo in Nairobi, at a time when there was conflict between the Sumbiji and Teso communities.

“After I joined Form 1, I still never let go of my talent but I almost thought my dreams came to a sudden death when I was forced to drop out of school as a Form 2 student,” he said.

In a sit down with Phil Director, Makokha shared that life growing up was tough in Maringo. He ended up becoming a street boy, collecting items in the streets that he would sell for some money.

His parents were not employed, so he used the money to buy himself books and pens for school before he dropped out completely. He however credited his father, who spoke 160 languages, for instilling a love for languages and comedy.

In his efforts to make a living from anything out in the streets, his exceptional drumming skills caught the attention of event organizers at Safari Park

“Soon after dropping out, I joined Jericho acrobats groups named ‘Zuma Zuma’ where we used to perform in events and shows,” he said.

This opportunity opened so many international doors for him. He travelled to Korea, Spain, Canada, the UK and Egypt, just to perform his music. A better and more iconic life was beckoning for him.

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Makokha recalled one occasion, in 1992, when he was performing at Safari Park hotel and Mama Kayai (Lucy) and Mzee Ojwang’ (Ondiek) were in the audience.

Luckily, he was invited to a Vioja Mahakamani shoot without needing auditions. The rest that followed became history and Makokha’s legacy.

Makokha is the owner of Zuka Records, a studio based in Nairobi that helps nurture young music and art talents. Some of the top names he has worked with in his record include Prezzo, Jaguar and Lady Bee.

The successful comedian attributes his success to God’s guidance, His favour, and a total dedication to his job. He advises any upcoming actors to always have discipline and put in the work because nothing comes easy in the industry.

“The most important thing is for them to always put God first, respect their job, their audience and most importantly humble themselves.”

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