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Dedan Juma: I have been a hawker in between my acting roles on TV shows

Being an actor in the spotlight can be a great experience but for Dedan Juma, popularly known as Detective Juma in the drama series Real Househelps of Kawangware, the experience has not been all too great.

You see, when he got the role Juma thought it was the beginning of a successful career in the acting scene. But his dreams came crashing down when the show took a break in 2018.

“I went for the auditions and got the part of Detective Juma, a very ironic role from the past life I was living,” he said.

But then somewhere along the way things took a dramatic turn for the worst after the show took a break. With the show being his main source of income his finances dwindled to a point that he now had to sell sweets in matatus to make a living.

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“I wondered what life wanted from me. To survive I started selling sweets in public service vehicles and people would tell me they used to see me on TV. They questioned why I was now selling sweets in a matatu. I remember I went back to one guy who gave me work at construction sites and they refused because he said he is now used to seeing me on TV. He said his wife and kids are my fans besides after being on TV my pockets must be full,” Juma narrated.

It so happened that at the same time his mother fell sick and was admitted to the hospital. His mother fell at the stairs of a footbridge, this resulted in her being admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital.

His mother’s condition deteriorated to the point she could not eat anything. It was while hustling to find the money for his young family and sick mother, that Juma received a phone call from his friend Kevin Ogolla with some good news.

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“Kevin Ogolla called me and asked me to audition for a new TV series. He said the part fitted me. I auditioned but I never thought I was going to get it, because Ogolla has called me for several auditions some of which I did not get. My mind was focused on my mother,” he recalled.

“When I went for the audition I was confused but I did it anyway. My mum fell sick in February and died in March. When she was on her death bed I remember telling her that I was going for an audition and if I got this role I would clear her hospital bill and take care of her properly,” he said.

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A few days later, Juma received a call with the goods that he had gotten the role of Zeze in Pepeta, a new drama series at Showmax. Then a few minutes later he received another call from the hospital informing him of his mother’s death.

He was devastated by the news but by immersing himself fully in his new role in the series, he was able to take his mind away from his grief.

“I am here as a testimony that no matter how bad life is, you can change it for the better. In Pepeta I play the role of Zeze a hard-core criminal. I was able to explore who Dedan Juma was and who Zeze was. When I was in a life of crime, I do not think that I really knew myself but now I do. My advice to young people is that patience pays,” Juma said.