By Faith Nyambeki
He arrives in the city naive and full of hopes of making it big. This move has been prompted by the father of his lover ‘Cele’ who thinks his current job as a posho mill attendant in the village is not good enough. Nairobi proves to be a concrete jungle and not the city of opportunities as perceived by some. ‘Mshamba’ never disappoints in the sitcom aired on KTN and Maisha Magic East. This writer takes a look at the life of this comedian who has inspired many.
The comedian’s name is James Chanji Wamukoya.
The funnyman attended Township Primary School and later joined St Augustine Primary School from classes 4-8, both in Busia county. He went on to attend a seminary school in Kiserian to study priesthood but quit after a year. After this brief dalliance with priesthood, the comedian joined Aga Khan High School. After his O-levels, he studied a course in Business Administration and Mass Communication at Air Travel and Tours College.
The comedian is married and has two children. The first born daughter is eleven years while the youngest, Blessing Chanji, is six. The couple lost one of the twins during childbirth throwing her wife into depression. The comedian told Heads Up in 2014 of the tragic event:
“My wife is very traumatised but she has been going through a lot of counseling. She will be fine with time…”
The couple met at West FM where they both used to work.
Mshamba’s career path was well identifiable when he was quite young. In an interview with EveWoman, the actor narrated how he started acting while he was only ten years. The then class Five pupil took a role of a mad man in a class play that no one wanted to touch. He went on to do skits in churches, weddings and harambees. His love for acting had to take a back seat-but not for long-when he joined the Apostles of Jesus Seminary in Kiserian. He was to become a Catholic priest if not for doing what he called “setting up a drama club.” According to the actor, the club became a success and girls in urban schools started noticing them. Letters started exchanging hands to the chagrin of the rector who decided to ban the club. He was told to choose between the priesthood and developing the acting talent. He told Eve: I chose the latter. I have no regrets since I can reach more people today through radio and television than if I had become a priest. I think my mother is happy too.
Blossoming as a comedian
The veteran comedian is credited with playing a big role in “revolutionising the local laughter industry”, as the Standard newspaper put it. He formed the comedy group ‘Publik Noisemakers’-together with James Sangoro aka Sherrif and Kariuki Thige aka JB –that came up with Who’s Stupid Now show, In tru kalas that was hugely popular in the 90s.
Away from TV, the comedian has made a name for himself as a radio presenter. He worked at Radio Maisha before moving to Sasa Radio in 2019.
Supporting the less fortunate
He is the patron of Hope for Street Families Rehab Centre in Huruma. The institution has rehabilitated over 200 children through a number of projects.