By Nyainda Manaseh via FB
A year ago.
During his stint as an actor in Papa Shirandula, Felix Odiwuor, alias Jalang’o, got wind of Nyambane’s exit from Kiss 100 FM. And the management was looking for a potential replacement to co-host the morning show with Caroline Mutoko.
The basic requirement was a Bachelor’s Degree and Jalang’o didn’t have any. But on that fateful day, he showed up for the interview.
The applicants were asked to queue and anyone who had a degree was to step on one side. With full knowledge that he didn’t have one, Jalang’o stepped aside too. The others were requested to go back.
Again, those with a media-related degree were further asked to step aside. Jalang’o, too, stepped aside with not degree. Those with no media degrees were asked to go home.
The interview began in earnest and it was Jalango’s turn to face the panel. Upon being asked to produce his proof of degree, Jalang’o just told the panelists that he didn’t have any, but believed he was fit for that job. The whole panel was stunned and impressed at the same time because of his confidence.
He was shortlisted to appear for a voice-testing. The same courage that brought him there with no degree thrust him to the top and he was effectively hired.
Unfortunately, on the same day he received his letter of appointment, his dad died quietly back in the village, never to witness his son’s meteoric rise to the crème of the country’s media industry.
However, he left a note behind, requesting Jalang’o that should he find favor in his dreams, let him build his mother a decent house, and take care of his siblings. He had tried what he could, but fate had its way.
And Jalang’o did just that. Today, Jalang’o’s mother resides in an exquisite home and his siblings well taken care of.
But what really is the story behind Jalang’o success? I explore.
Felix Odiwuor was born and bred in Homa Bay County. Just like any other village kid, he went to Homa Bay Lake Primary School, wading through the muddy pathways barefoot to get to school and sometimes on an empty stomach.
On completion of his primary education, he was called to the prestigious Maseno School, but the grinding poverty saw him delaying for the admission. After pulling some resources, he showed up at Maseno School with his father one week later, beaten by life but pushed by determination.
Sadly, his position had been taken up and had no option but to seek an alternative. They showed up at Bar Konyango Secondary in Siaya where he was accepted. He would don Maseno’s uniform in his time there, but the school fee was taking a toll on his dad. This forced him to move to a low-budget school, Nyang’oma Boys in the same county.
But the reality was donning on his farther who supplied beans and maize to clear fee arrears, that he couldn’t sustain both Jalang’o and his brother in school simultaneously. Out of good heart, the elder brother dropped out in favor of Jalang’o.
On completion of his studies, he got a C+ but couldn’t secure a place in any university.
Effectively, he became a fishmonger on the shores of L. Victoria and later worked for Capital Fish Company. But like any other teenager seeking greener pastures, he moved to Nairobi and was housed temporarily by his uncle in Lavington. He left Lavington for his other uncle’s place located in Quarry, a sprawling informal settlement in Embakasi South.
He tried the brick-and-mortar work like Mjengo but his interest was in Arts. After repeatedly trying out his luck and failing, Jalang’o finally landed a cast at the Kenya National Theatre where honed his skills. He would then venture into Luo drama before proceeding to Papa Shirandula, bursting into the national limelight with the hilarious Otoyo, wrongfully perceived to be his biological brother.
From then, his story has been that of pure bliss, lending a hand when needed most. His is one of the country’s top Emcees, hosting corporate events like Safaricom and KCB end-year parties. He has mentored many and DJ Shiti is one of his protege in the world of theatre.
Because he has cultivated a circle of highly placed friends like Uhuru Kenyatta, Gideon Moi, Raila Odinga, Jeff Koinange, Hassan Joho, and other bigwigs in the corporate sector and media industry, he now savors life from the first lane.
His utmost show of humanity was exemplified when he came through for Lewis Otieno Rabar; a student who appeared for admission at Kanga Secondary School with a metallic box and two bar soaps only.
On calling Hassan Joho, the Mombasa Governor paid his 4-year fee and opened a bank account for the kid. Akothe Sibuor Manyako stepped in too in cash, attracting some supermarket that offered free shopping during his 4-year long stay in school.
But one of his biggest dreams materialized in 2018 when he met the former US President Barrack Obama, while he was emceeing in the Sauti Kuu Event in Siaya.
Today, the CEO of Arena Media celebrates his birthday. Happy birthday, Jalang’o, you are an inspiration to some of us.