By Prudence Minayo
First posted on: June 2, 2020
Updated on: June 5, 2021
Katherine Marsh said, “ it is possible to reclaim your future, to build a happy life despite an imperfect past. We can order the universe to our will and mind.” This words of wisdom have proved true by a number of young talented Kenyans who grew up in poverty and dysfunctional families yet became successful. When Kartelo posted his first video on Instagram, he didn’t expect it to receive as much traction as it did. To his utter amazement, the video went viral and so many people were sharing it, including some big names, like Shaffie Weru. Suddenly, he began writing a new chapter of his life, a story that inspires a lot of people, that your past should not define your future. With just a single leap of faith, you can change the direction of your life for the better.
Kartelo is a Kenyan comedian and radio presenter from humble beginnings. Brought up in the notorious Kayole neighbourhood, known to many as one of Nairobi’s hotbed for criminal elements. Today, he enjoys a comfortable lifestyle even as he puts a smile on many people’s faces, but where did it all begin?
Nickson (Nick Chege), popularly known as Kartelo, revealed he was 21 years old when he appeared on Chipukeezy’s show in 2019.
The comedian went to a school in Kayole where he did his KCPE in 2011 and became the first pupil in that school to score 379 marks.
Kartelo was a bright student in high school and carried the tag of an A student. Sharing his story on Upclose with Betty Kyalo, the talented comedian said it came as a surprise when he scored a C plus in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). That was so depressing, he had to be counselled.
The radio presenter was raised by a single mother together with his two brothers after their father disappeared without a word. His father was a conman who would disappear every time he conned his victims. After a while, he always made his way back home until one day he disappeared and they thought he would come back as usual but it didn’t happen. It took two years to start looking for him in prisons, mortuaries and paid radio announcements. He disappeared at a very bad time when Kartelo’s mum was still recovering from injuries. She had been posted in Murang’a county for a teaching job and her husband decided to build her a house in his family’s compound instead of renting. One day, the relatives turned on her and injured her pretty badly. Weeks later while still in recovery, the father of her children disappeared without a trace.
She single handedly raised her three boys in a rundown house that provided no shelter during bad weather. Washing People’s clothes at kshs150 is what kept food on the table yet she was able to educate all her children. Two of whom are teachers while Kartelo is a radio presenter. Despite all this, he bears no grudge against his father, misses him and hopes he comes home.
At a very young age, the now famous comedian loved to do crazy things. Even in primary school, he’d make people laugh together with his friend. After completing high school, jobs were very hard to come by. At first, he wanted to do music but lacked the funds to pursue it. His dream was to get an education, a job then retirement but was inspired by a few people at the Kenya National Theatre.
“ So, my plans were nisome nipate degree niandikwe kazi, nisurvive niretire nikienda but to some point nikaanza kua inspired. Kuna watu wengi sana who really inspired me at Kenya National Theatre. There is a person called………” said Kartel in an interview with Lynne Ngugi.
Going to an environment full of artists opened his mind and inspired him. When he started out, he wanted to have 10k Instagram followers and at least 1k views per post only for his clip to supersede his expectations. Suddenly, he became famous and Chipukeezy reached out to him for his first media gig.
He appeared as a host on the Chipukeezy show that aired on Ebru TV and he didn’t disappoint. He viewers in stitches from the onset with his corrupted swahili. Unfortunately, Ebru TV kicked them for being too ‘ghettoish”. This was announced by Chipukeezy on Instagram:
“ Hey guys… A quick one. So I received an email from Ebru TV asking me to terminate my agreement and collaboration with Kartelo on the show. They said they are a bit concerned that the show has become a bit Ghetto because of the many youths (upcoming musicians and comedians) on the show,” read part of the post.
When one door closes, a different one opens and this is exactly what happened when Kartelo got his first job at Milele FM. In this new role, he hosts Bangaiza reloaded at Milele FM from 1 to 4p.m every weekday alongside Chris Da Bass.
The comedian is a father of one. He shared a photo of himself lovingly holding his daughter known as Baby T.
Disappearing from the scene
Life has it fair share of up and downs. The comedian took a long break from the media prompting his followers to question his whereabouts. Speculation was rife that he had sunk into drug and substance abuse. It took the efforts of fellow funnyman Mulamwah to trace him in his Kayole abode. Kartelo insisted all was well when Mulamwah (Also Read: Comedian Mulamwah Biography, Real Name, Early Life, Career, Separation With Girlfriend and YouTube Earnings) asked why he had disappeared from the scene saying he had taken time off to take care of his baby girl. Pressed to explain why he had exited his radio job, the comedian said that was a story for another day.