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Papa Shirandula: Kenyan actor Charles Bukeko remembered



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Ken Gichoya

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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.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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