By Prudence Minayo
Being a comedian in Kenya is not an end in itself as we have seen in the recent past. This is only a pathway to other job opportunities once you have been known and accepted by Kenyans. When Byron Otieno, popularly known by his stage name Owago Onyiro, appeared on the Churchill show aired on NTV fans fell in love with him. His sense of humor and stage presence elevated him to levels of such greats as YY.
Although he took a break from the Churchil show, he remains a notable stand up comedian in Kenya.
This article takes you through the journey of Owago to where he is today.
The former KBC employee attended Kolwal Primary School in Migori county where he sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 2002.
“ Kolwal was well known for drama and music festivals and that’s where his stage name Owago Onyiro was born, ”said his mother told a leading publication.
The comedian attended secondary at Kanyawanga High School in Rongo and sat for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Exams in the same school.
During his school days, he entertained teachers and fellow schoolmates with his jokes. Physics was his favorite subject and he hoped to study engineering and become a lecturer.
Upon completing high school, he went to Moi Institute of Technology, Rongo, Migori county for a certified Public Accountants (CPA) course.
After this, he attended Railways Training Institute (RTI) and enrolled for a course in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He then switched to the Technical University of Kenya and studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering (Power Option).
Owago is the first born and only son in his family. He has two younger sisters.
The stand up comedian was born and brought up in Uriri, Migori county. His father was a teacher who would often be transferred from one school to another.
Growing up, life was not a walk in the park as they did not have much material wealth. Owago loved comedy from a very young age and he entertained people including his family.
“ He loved entertaining his classmates and teachers when he was in school. Even at home, he used to make us smile in tough seasons though I never knew that one day this would end up being his career,” recalled his mother.
Wife and children
Owago is married and has two children with his wife. In 2016, he introduced his new born baby boy to the world via Instagram. His post read:
“Am happy to introduce my family to my loyal fans…….we got a bouncing baby boy on Tuesday night I am whom I am today because of your support Rule number one “Respect the mother of your child” Rule number two “Let them advice you but not decide for you” Last rule “Be yourself” .
Owago became famous when he appeared on the 11th season of Churchill raw. Through his witty sense of humor, he was able to keep fans entertained. This saw him rise to fame as more and more people began to know him. In an interview with Kenyans.co.ke., he revealed that he was a lecturer at St Paul’s university before quitting to join Churchill Show.
“ I used to teach Bachelor of Arts at the campus. I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Kenya polytechnic and this enabled me to teach Mathematics too,” he said.
“I lectured for one and a half years. It is not a tough job, you engage the students and have fun”, he added.
“ I would love to go back to teaching one day, as that is part of my life. Possession of education credentials is one important thing in this world. They come in handy at every juncture despite someone focusing entirely on something different,” the comedian continued.
During his stint at Churchill show, he got a chance in 2014 to do an international tour. This saw him travel to a number of places in the United States performing stand up comedy and he got to interact with other comedians and even see how others in the States did it.
He also worked at KBC Radio Taifa until 2019 when he decided to quit. In an interview with Pulse live, he revealed the reason for leaving the station was due to his colleagues.
“Radio nilifanya lakini unajua kuna wale watu wana roho mbaya mpaka nikaona mbona nikorofishane na watu. Unajua wanaona sisi tumefanya hapa kazi miaka kumi, huyu mtoto anakuja juzi na analipwa hela mingi. Kuna vitu mimi kama mtu kutoka huko Kisumu siwezi kubali nikawaachia tu. Hapa njee sisi ni walewale,” he said in the interview.
The funnyman came out to defend Daniel ‘Churchill’ Ndambuki when he was accused of not paying comedians during in the interview with Jalas. He said what Churchill does is to give them a platform which comedians should use to propel themselves to the next level.
“when you were going to school your father used to give you pocket money, that is what Churchill is giving us. He cannot be giving you plus salary.”
Dealing with Covid-19
A lot of businesses were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, people had to find other means of survival and so he ventured into cooking and showcased his talent in the kitchen through his YouTube channel Owago Onyiro.
He also delivers fish as another way of survival as he revealed in an interview with Jalas. On a bad day, he makes 8 deliveries but on a good day he makes up to 30 deliveries.