Connect with us


Papa Shirandula: Kenyan actor Charles Bukeko remembered



Image copyright
Ken Gichoya

Image caption

Peers say Charles Bukeko (C), known as Papa Shirandula, was a trailblazer who helped others

Charles Bukeko, who died earlier this week aged 58, helped transform the acting profession in Kenya. The BBC’s Ferdinand Omondi, himself a former actor, looks back at his career.

In Kenya, a pot belly is humorously used as a measure of success, while a watchman is one of the least well paid jobs.

Papa Shirandula, played by Charles Bukeko, was therefore a paradox – a pot-bellied watchman.

So beloved was that TV character that Bukeko, seemed to morph into it. Even now, he is affectionately referred to as Papa.

In real life and on the screen, Papa shook when he laughed, the gap between the teeth flashing infectiously and forcing a smile at the very least from anyone watching.

Yet his character also exemplified the stigma associated with the job of a security guard in Kenya.

Button-popping suit

In the long-running series of the same name, Papa Shirandula lied to his wife that he had an office job. He would leave the house in a dark suit, bright shirt and unusually oversized tie, striding his way out of the house and whistling.

But the moment he was out of sight he would jump into a bush, change into his shiny maroon suit whose buttons and stitches threatened to pop, then cycle off to his job as a security guard.

His big, round body would sink into a chair a third of his size, and legs apart, he would launch into non-stop gossip with Njoro (played by Kenneth Gichoya), a buffoon of a casual worker who almost always landed him in trouble.

Papa’s wife Wilbroda was a pesky and demanding personality, and their daughter Naliaka an ambitious, modern girl with big dreams.

On-screen chemistry

These colourful characters among others made for hilarious comedy episode after episode – whether Papa was struggling to make ends meet with his meagre wages and lavish desires, or impressing a village girl with fancy wordshe could neither understand nor properly arrange in a sentence.

The actor who played Jalangó once revealed that they barely needed a script. All they needed was a plot, and then the lines would flow.

In fact, this cast performed so consistently well that their characters became real-life alter egos.

Papa Shirandula then began opening new doors, landing roles in worldwide commercials.

With Coca-Cola, it was a 2007 advert now known as “Brrr”, from the sound Papa makes after sipping the cold drink and trembling in satisfaction. He also starred in a campaign for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Then the floodgates opened. From multinationals to Kenyan start-ups, Papa was in demand.

With new opportunities came more money, and he was almost always cast as “Papa” as the character had cachet.

Soon his sitcom co-stars started reaping the fruits too.

Turning point

Suddenly acting was no longer a low-paying job, a career stand-by or an afterthought after failing to land a permanent contract in media.

Acting became a respectable profession in Kenya and opened doors to careers in the media industry.

Charles Bukeko’s career highlights


  • The Constant Gardener, 2005
  • Malooned!, 2007
  • The Captain of Nakara, 2012

TV shows:

  • Makutano Junction, 2006-2008
  • Papa Shirandula – 2007- 2020

Jalangó, real name Phelix Odiwuor, says he got his nickname from his role in the Papa Shirandula show. It was Papa that gave him the moniker.

Today Jalangó is a household name – an in-demand radio presenter and MC who cannot stay out of a job. And he is a millionaire entrepreneur through his media production company, Arena Media, which hosts festivals and corporate events.

His counterpart Otoyo, Papa’s wife Wilbroda (Jackie Nyaminde) and Njoro have also had significant success as radio personalities, MCs and comedians.

It is no longer strange to see an actor in a Mercedes-Benz or owning property in Kenya.

Most of the Papa Shirandula cast say they won their roles thanks to recommendations from Charles Bukeko himself, with whom they used to hustle at the Kenya National Theatre.

Nearly all have since become familiar faces in Kenya, gracing commercials, hosting radio shows and making millions in the process. Acting is now a career to be proud of, and Papa can take some credit for that.

Several other TV comedy characters have similarly branched out.

I played was a TV character in long-running high school drama Tahidi High, before heading into journalism.

Others have remained successful in acting careers, as performers or producers and directors.

‘Tomorrow is not promised’

We all admire Papa as the icon who demonstrated that you can build a successful career out of acting.

I last saw him a short while before the coronavirus pandemic struck. It had been a while.

“Call me, let’s talk. There is something we need to discuss,” Papa told me, handing me his business card.

But I procrastinated, partly because I was busy and also because I felt there would be ample time to meet and talk.

Later, on Saturday 20 July, I heard he had died. His business card flashed into my mind.

Papa’s widow Beatrice Andega told mourners he died after breathing complications while waiting for treatment at a top private hospital in Nairobi.

Tomorrow is not promised.

Papa’s success has inspired me to consider a return to the set at some point, be it as a screenwriter or director, maybe even an actor.

The industry still has many challenges and success is not guaranteed.

But we can look to the example of Papa, and see an important lesson.

That whatever you do in life, give it all of your heart – plus your belly – and success is yours to take.

Source –

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

Source –

Continue Reading


Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

Source –

Continue Reading


Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss




Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.

Source –

Continue Reading