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Five things to know about Jalang’o amidst ‘wash wash’ claims

By Freya Wanjiku September 13th, 2023 3 min read

Felix Odiwour, widely known as Jalang’o, has a tale that epitomizes the classic ‘from grass to grace’ narrative.

Multitalented, his journey to stardom positioned him as a beloved public figure in various spheres.

As he ventured into his political career, the 40-year-old’s prominence grew even further. While his entry into politics garnered considerable attention, it was not without its mix of positive endorsements and controversies.

Here are five things to know about him:

He was a fisherman

At the age of 23, Jalang’o was a fisherman and fishmonger in Homa Bay town.

In a previous interview, Jalang’o said, “We would go to the middle of the lake at night and cast our nets. I grew up in an average family, and we would find that today there is food, tomorrow there is no food.”

Coming from a humble background, Jalang’o’s hope of attending university crashed due to financial constraints making him work to help cater for his young siblings.

“We would go to the gate and raise our IDs. If you get picked you are lucky if not too bad. Per week I would work maybe three times per week and with that, I could support my mum. I worked at Capital Fish and would earn Sh160 per day,” he said.

He was a comedian

Jalang’o a standup comedian had appeared on a number of TV shows; Kenya Kona, Churchill Show, and Papa Shirandula where he earned the name Jalas.

He revealed it was the late Charles Bukeko alias Papa Shirandula who ‘baptised’ him with that stage name and propelled his acting journey.

“We had been acting Luo plays at the National Theatre for some time and one day (comedian) Inspekta Mwala calls and asks us to debut on his show, Inspekta Mwala (which also airs on Citizen TV),” he explained on his online TV show Bonga na Jalas.

“Then we suddenly receive another call from Papa and he says he has a gig for us but only for one episode. We immediately go for the briefing. On arrival, Papa is there seated, carrying scripts. There is a character for someone who will be named Jalang’o and another one for Otoyo.”

Jalang’o added: “Papa pointed at me randomly and said, ‘You will be Jalas, he then pointed at my colleague and said ‘You will be Otoyo,’ These are your scripts for tomorrow, familiarise with them. Your role is to welcome your sister (main actor Wilbroda) for her wedding to Papa Shirandula.”

He was a journalist

Jalang’o began his career doing voiceovers at Ramogi FM. He then applied for a job as a radio presenter at Kiss 100 in 2009 where he worked alongside veteran media personality Caroline Mutoko.

He then transitioned to Radio Maisha in 2012, after which he later moved on to Hot 96 FM from 2017 till 2018 when he moved to Radio Milele.

In July 2020, Jalas went back to where he began his radio career as a morning presenter at Kiss 100 where he was a co-host to Kamene Goro.

He is a politician

He ditched his radio job for politics. He said that he joined politics because he wanted a bigger voice and bigger access to the community to understand them better.

“I knew I wanted to go for this, I went to school first. After my graduation, I knew I was ready for this. And even the course I took in campus which is Community Development resonated with the journey I wanted to take, which is politics,” he said in an interview.

He would then join the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and run for the Lang’ata parliamentarian seat. He was elected as the MP in the 2022 general elections.

However, the legislator confessed that voters faced difficulties associating him with his official name during the August general elections. He said that he planned to drop Phelix or Jalang’o in the ballot paper in the next general elections.

He was expelled from ODM

ODM expelled five parliamentarians including Jalang’o after openly associating with President William Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza party.

John Mbadi, the ODM Chairman said that the expelled MPs had also opposed lawful decisions and resolutions made by the party, contrary to Article 11 of the ODM constitution.

He would then quote the scriptures after being axed reminiscing the day he carried a box with documents during the 2022 Presidential election petition hearing.

However, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal issued an interim order barring ODM from removing the names of the ousted MPs from the party register.

The court also restrained the Registrar of Political Parties from acting on the recommendations sent to her by ODM that the five have since been expelled from the party.

Also read: Full list of suspects arrested by police in Sh1 billion fake gold deal

Lang’ata MP Jalango changes tune over threat to sue publication in ‘wash wash’ deal