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Njoro of Papa ShirandulaComedy lovers call him Njoro. He stars as the hilarious but not-so-smart guy in the award-winning show, Papa Shirandula which airs on a Kenyan TV station. What most people do not know is that his real name is Kenneth Gichoya, a strikingly tall and handsome young man who dreamt of becoming Kenya’s next Denzel Washington.

He is so passionate about acting for a Kenyan audience that when in 2008 he won a green card to go to the United States, he turned it down.

At only 32, he has bagged many awards for his rib-cracking comedy shows. including the Best Performance-Comedy Award at the 2010 Kalasha Awards. Indeed, he has become a most sought-after comedian and a household name to many Kenyans.

As a child, he always looked up to Denzel Washington and vowed to be just as famous, to make his country proud. He grew up in various places all over Nairobi because his dad was a banker and was always moving. In class four, Kenneth joined the drama group in his church. It wasn’t until he joined High school that he got his big break.

While in Form two, he got an award for best actor at the District level. He had raised his bar high and there was no turning back! He wanted to achieve greater things as an actor. In 1999 when he was in his final year in Baricho High School, he bagged another coveted award, only this time at the Provincials.

After high school, he met Mr. Noreaga Bingi, then Director of Visions Theatre Academy, who directed him to Kenya National Theatre. His acting career took off to even greater heights. He would act in public shows for Kshs. 300 per show. He also got to attend drama school and become a Certified actor.

He has worked with various theatre companies and done countless shows. He once acted in Crazy Kenyans and Intrukalass; both of which were famous shows back in the 90’s.

Playing Njoro in Papa Shirandula

He met Charles Bukeko whose stage name is Papa Shirandula during this time. A friendship automatically developed and they started acted together in many public shows. In their spare time, they would explore ways of how best to develop their acting skills as comedians.

When Papa Shirandula was picked to star in his show, he did not hesitate to recommend his longtime friend, Kenneth Gichoya, a natural at cracking people up. He got the part almost effortlessly and later coined the name ‘Njoro’ as his stage name. Since then, his fame shot up and everyone wanted to book him for shows and performances. Apart from acting, he has featured in various adverts like the Safaricom, Sigenta and the most popular one, Golden Shine. He is also emcee at various weddings and other events.At the Kalasha Awards

Things you did not know about Njoro

  • He loves listening to local music
  • Travelling especially to far away places
  • Watching action movies
  • He loves nature and once in a while takes time out to marvel at its beauty
  • His favorite dish is chicken; he cannot do without it.
  • Kenneth is married with two children
  • His wife and kids help him memorize his lines before a show
  • His burning ambition is to set up a Production House and create employment
  • He loves to mentor young actors/actresses so they can earn money in the business.
  • In real life, Njoro's teeth are as white as snow.

Wise words: Work hard in whatever you do; It pays eventually. Do not despair because eventually, your day will come.

-Words by Euginia Gathoni

 

-First published in BINGWA Magazine Issue 7