Dedan Juma: From A Phone Snatcher In Nairobi To Making It Big As An Actor

Dedan Juma, known by his alias Zeze in the new series “Pepeta” airing on Showmax, portrays the character of a street-savvy gang leader who has known no other life but that of a hardened criminal.

Juma’s captivating performance in the series portrays his own personal journey, which unfolded amidst the harsh realities of City Carton, a small ghetto near Buru Buru Phase 1.

In this neighbourhood, opportunities were scarce, and the constant allure of crime and drugs created a challenging environment.

As a young man trying to find his place in the world, Juma faced a daily struggle, torn between succumbing to the temptations that surrounded him or forging a different path for himself.

His mother, a steadfast figure in his life, tried her best to shield Juma from the dangers of the ghetto.

Every Sunday, she would take him to church, exposing him to a different perspective on life.

“My mother always showed me the importance of going to church and making the right decisions. On Sundays, she would take me to church and I would see a different side of life,” Juma recalled.

Juma’s mother owned a small sukuma wiki kiosk in Gikomba market, and she often took him along as a way to keep him away from the negative influences in the neighbourhood.

But as he grew older, the constant presence of his mother became suffocating, and he yearned for independence and acceptance from his peers.

It was during this period of searching for belonging that Juma found himself drawn to the criminal gangs that roamed the neighborhood.

The prospect of earning quick money was irresistible, and he soon became involved in small criminal activities.

He took on tasks assigned by gang leaders, such as delivering items and receiving payment in return.

“I would be given small jobs by the gang leaders like delivering things and getting paid. I was in class eight and I would get paid like sh.2000. This to me was a lot of money,” he added.

The money he earned seemed like a fortune to Juma, who lived with his mother in a humble mud house.

One particular incident left a lasting impression on Juma. He managed to earn a substantial sum of money, an amount that could have eased their financial struggles.

Excited and eager to support his mother, he rushed home to hand her the money.

But to his surprise, she refused to accept it.

Juma’s mother, with a heavy heart, let him know that she understood the source of the money was tainted. Her rejection left him feeling guilty and awakened his conscience.

Despite his mother’s attempts to steer him away from a life of crime, Dedan Juma continued down the treacherous path.

He engaged in illegal activities and associated with other gang members, who became his comrades in a world of lawlessness. But fate intervened one day when tragedy struck.

During a routine mobile phone snatching operation, Juma and his gang members found themselves pursued by an angry crowd. In the chaos, their friend and fellow gang member, Martin, was captured.

The crowd demanded that Martin reveal the identities of his accomplices, but he chose to protect them, paying the ultimate price.

Juma witnessed the brutal lynching of his friend, and in that horrifying moment, the reality of their actions struck him with full force.

Haunted by the consequences of his choices, the actor knew he needed to change his life. He resolved to leave behind his life of crime and seek honest employment.

Juma found work as a casual laborer on construction sites, working hard to support himself and his mother.

He also returned to the church, seeking solace and guidance in his quest for redemption.

Through his involvement in the church, he discovered a talent group where he could explore his acting skills.

The auditions for the local drama series “Real Househelps of Kawangware” provided him with an opportunity to showcase his talent.

Against all odds, Dedan Juma secured the role of Detective Juma, a character that mirrored his past life.