By Prudence Minayo
Joseph Omari, alias Mr. Tembo, is one of the pioneer actors of the hit series Tahidi High. He became a household name in most Kenyan homes after being featured in the program. The veteran actor has been in the acting industry for nearly two decades and has played major roles in popular local TV programs.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
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The veteran actor was born on 20th December 1942. He is a Kisii born and raised in Nairobi.
He attended Nairobi Primary School, then known as Government Primary School (the school is currently known as Pumwani Secondary School). Tembo attended high school in Machakos. He loved the arts and was a member of the choir and drama club. The actor then went to Railway Training Institute for a course in Mechanical Engineering
He is a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather with six great grandchildren. He met the mother of his children in Uganda when he was part of a band.
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The soon to be 80-year-old believes family is very important and one should invest in them. He has kids who ensure that his needs are catered for, some in Norway and Sweden. He believes that had he not invested in them before, they too would not help him now as much as they do.
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Before he ventured in the highly competitive entertainment industry, he tried his hand at other things but found his interest was not there. He worked as a postal clerk just like his father before him who was also an employee at Posta.
He then got an opportunity to travel with a band to perform at a club in Uganda. While in Uganda, he became a trade unionist and was elected treasurer of Uganda Musicians Union. He joined Labor College- Makerere University- where he did a diploma in Trade Unionism.
He came back to Kenya and continued working as a trade unionist. He was elected president of Kenya Musicians Union for three years. In fact, he stopped the performance of all bands after Tom Mboya was assassinated to honor to iconic trade unionist.
He ventured into acting by first taking a role on KBC,Broken Hearts series.
In 2006, he joined Tahidi High and began working as the deputy principal in the school drama series. The principal of Tahidi High at the time was a senior lecturer at Kenyatta University and could barely get time to participate in the acting, hence, Mr. Tembo became principal when he left.
In the series, he was a strict principal who tolerated no indiscipline but was always at cross roads with his deputy Ms Morgan. Ms Morgan thought she was young and energetic and hence deserved to be principal, not Mr. Tembo.
He worked as an actor in the series for more than a decade before leaving. He has also been a featured actor in Santalai where he worked alongside Nigerian actor Desmond Eliott. He also acted on Sue na Johnnie on Maisha Magic East. In the series, he worked in a production done by Abel Mutua and Philip Karanja, his former students in the series Tahidi High.
As an actor, he believes the Kenyan industry is not where it needs to be as very few have invested to make it successful. According to him, the pay actors received could be better. However, he also believes one can invest with the little they earn.
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