NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Fellow comedians have mourned Benson Wanjau, better known as Mzee Ojwang’ Hatari but with bitterness that his health began to deteriorate after he was unceremoniously dismissed from the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
His long time friend and fellow comedian Gibson Mbugua who plays the role of a prosecutor in Vioja Mahakamani said Ojwang’ got depressed after he was given a surprise sacking at KBC.
“Mzee Ojwang’ was abruptly sacked from KBC. He was told go away. After working at KBC for about 40 years, he was chased away like a dog. He got depressed and started drinking,” Mbugua recalled.
According to Mbugua, Ojwang’ could not believe that KBC had sacked him without giving him a befitting farewell.
“He asked himself, after 40 years of service at KBC I have been sent away without even a send-off, not even a wheelbarrow as a send-off at least I go home with it.”
Mama Kayai (Mary Khavere) who was Ojwang’s stage wife in the Vitimbi drama series echoed Mbugua, saying Ojwang’s tribulations began after he lost his job at KBC. “Ojwang’s problems started the day we were told that our jobs at KBC were no more. He has never accepted that he was actually sacked.”
When she spoke to Ojwang’ last Friday she did not know it was going to be the last time to chat with the 78 year old actor.
She regretted that Ojwang’ died before he accomplished his wish to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and former President Daniel arap Moi.
“On Friday he asked me about a meeting with Uhuru and I told him not yet. But I told him for now let’s leave this plan of meeting with Uhuru. Then he told me ‘I want to see Moi then. He begged me to try and get him but I told him it was not easy,” she explained.
“I don’t know what he wanted to tell Uhuru and Moi. Mzee has died with something in his heart. It’s only him who knows and maybe that’s why he wanted to meet them.”
Later on Monday, Moi sent a condolence message describing Ojwang’ as an entertainment legend.
“I personally knew Ojwang’ for decades as a man with an in-depth understanding of social issues which he presented with edgy humour and witticism. He aroused hearty laughter even amongst the most cynical. I thoroughly enjoyed his performances.” Moi said.
The former president recalled that Ojwang’s gait, tone and facial expressions provided comic relief to a society grappling with everyday challenges.”Now that Ojwang is no more, his fans will realise what a big asset he was in the field of comedy.” he said.
Mzee Ojwang’s rich legacy
Comedian who thronged Ojwang’s home early Monday morning had all praises and appreciation for the late humorist.