Lijodi Kokoto Biography, Real Name, Education, Family, Struggles And Career

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Lijodi Kokoto Biography, Real Name, Education, Family, Struggles And Career
Funnyman Lijodi Kokoto Photo/Facebook

By Faith Nyambeki

Vioja Mahakamani was one of the most popular local programmes on TV, probably only rivalled by Music Time and Vitimbi. The ‘Odi’ generation will find it ridiculous that the only TV station in Kenya in the 80s and early 90s was the Kenya Broadcasting Service (KBC). And that’s not all. KBC aired programs from 12PM to 11PM. Vioja Mahakamani was that programme you would not afford to miss. It was witty, educational and an incubator for actors. The character who forms the basis of this article is former Vioja Mahakamani and current actor in Daktari show Lijodi Kokoto. 

Real Name 

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The actor’s real name is Lawrence Gwako. In an interview with SDE, the actor said the name Kokoto was given to him by a fan unknowingly when he was in Naivasha for a show. The fan told him:  “Tobias Lijodi…you are the guy who had been accused of selling kokoto as manure…ahhh wewe ni kokoto sana..” And that’s how he adopted the name. 

Education

Lijodi Kokoto life in primary and secondary was an interesting one, if not sad. He started abusing alcohol in 1998 while he was in primary school. Disturbed by his behavior, his parents decided to dispatch him to a village school in Nyakach from the supposed bad influences in Nairobi. His stepmother brewed chang’aa making it easily available to the actor. 

Lijodi exported this deadly habit to high school. He said at the time that their favourite drink was Pullers that would cost them kes70. And the drinking would go on to his adult life. 

Family 

The comedian is married and has children. His wife has been a pillar in his life and stood with him when he struggled with addiction. When he lost his job in Vioja Mahakamani, the actor became a heavy broke drinker who could not support his family. His wife and children relocated to the village and only came back when he had put his life in order. She supported the family until Lijodo got another job. He has these kind words to say of his wife:  I sincerely don’t know where I would be without my wife. She is the best thing that ever happened to me.

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Struggles And Turning Point

We deal with stress differently. Lijodi fell into depression when-together with other veteran actors-were pushed out of Vioja Mahakamani for a younger cast. Now broke and not able to afford whisky and vodka, the comedian went on chang’aa and busaa binge drinking in Dandora. He was not really embarrassed even with his celebrity status to drink cheap brew. 

Turning Point

He made a 360 degrees turn in his life when he survived a near death experience. That was in 2012 when he was ‘chang’aa den hopping’ with friends. Narrating the experience that turned his life around, the comedian was to accompany his pal to Lucky Summer where he was to settle his debt. As they were crossing an overflowing Nairobi River from Dandora, he slipped and started drowning. He did not know how to swim and the heavy currents were pulling him towards a waterfall that was reportedly infested with crocodiles. 

He vowed that if he survived he would change his lifestyle:

I had a flashback of my life. I saw my children. I vowed that if I came out alive, I would change my lifestyle. I held on to a huge rock and could feel the water sweeping off my shoes and clothes. The only thing that I had left were my trousers and phone.

He was rescued and the same day he went to another chang’aa den to drink. That night he told everyone who cared to listen that that would be his last day drinking. He quit and has been clean from alcohol since 2012. 

Career

Lijodi started his career in 2003 when he successfully auditioned for the Vioja Mahakamani show and impressed the judges. At first he started as a dancer but it wasn’t paying his bills. After a successful run in the programme, KBC decided to revamp the show by bringing a new cast but the veterans actors led by Ondiek Nyuka Kwota Oloba Man Giddy, Albert Makacha bin Makoha and Alexander Josephat refused saying the cast was good as it was. This prompted the station to fire them. The comedian found himself jobless. 

Daktari

He reached out to his former colleagues who had started the successful Daktari show that airs on KTN. Lijodi said his friends were reluctant to take him because they knew of his past of alcoholism. He had to prove himself before he was taken in.

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