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KJ: My mother and brother committed suicide when I was young

Comedian-turned-politician John Kiarie recently revealed heartrending details of his childhood including how his mother and elder brother committed suicide.

Kiarie, popularly known as KJ of the Redykyulass comedy group, rose to fame in the late 90’s for mimicking former Kanu-era minister Joseph Kamotho and later former First Lady Mama Lucy.

He once contested for the Dagoretti South parliamentary seat but lost in ODM primaries.

Born in 1978, the fourth born of a family of eight lost his mother when he was just months old in what he described as a horrifying experience that affected his health during childhood.

“My mother died in mysterious circumstances because she committed suicide which led to my bad health just months after she gave birth to me, which led the family to think that I will was going to die,” Kiarie said during the premier TV show Story Yangu on Maisha Magic East.


A year later, his father remarried and joined opposition politics, a rare feat during the Kanu era.

“My step mother was the one who was taking care of us and sometimes life was so difficult to us; sometimes we only drunk sugarless porridge but we persevered,” he recalled

“Growing up I attended Kileleshwa primary school in Nairobi and I remember that it was difficult for me to ask for permission to go to the bathroom.

“I remember the children laughing at me when I asked the teacher in Kikuyu where the toilet was, which made me lose my confidence and led me to start peeing on myself.”

One day in standard four, Kiarie’s school was invited to a TV station. But because his school uniform was worn out and had patches all over, the teacher had to borrow better uniform for him.

He declined to join Strathmore School after realising the school did not have any drama classes. He later opted for Dagoreti High School.


While in Form One another tragedy hit the family. His elder brother, who had introduced him to drawing and acting, committed suicide.

“One night my big brother told me that he had something to tell me and he started talking about the future like he will not be there. We ended up talking for hours and we woke up the following morning he was not there,” a tearful Kiarie narrated.

According to Kiarie, postmortem revealed that his brother had committed suicide by taking 28 tablets of malariaquin.

James Muingai, another of his elder sibling,  narrated how Kiarie and the deceased brother were inseparable.

“Growing up, we were taught not to cry in public places as a man. But that day I cried when they were lowering his casket to the grave because that is the last time I will ever see him,” added Kiarie.


After the second tragedy Kiarie put all his efforts in his drawing. One day while in Form three, he took drawings to Daily Nation newspaper where he was told that his cartoons will run for three weeks and if people liked them he will be given space.

His cartoon. Head On Corrision, ran for 13 years.

He will be vying for the Dagoretti South parliamentary seat in the 2017 election on a Jubilee Party ticket.