Blame game on Othuol Othuol’s death has been rife within the creative sector

Friday, October 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Comedian Ben Maurice Onyango alias Othuol Othuol.

Following comedian Othuol Othuol’s death two weeks ago, a lot of talk has been thrown around that his fellow comedians failed him in his hour of need. This blame game has been rife within the creative sector with no end in sight yet, writes Adalla Allan

Many Africans tend to believe that whenever a person dies, the probability of the death being natural are slim.

There is always speculation and different theories offered to explain what led to the demise of our fellow folks, especially when they were a celebrity.

With the current rise in cyber bullying, blame games become the order of the day.

This was put out to play following the recent demise of comedian Ben Maurice Onyango alias Othuol Othuol.

The Churchill Show rib cracker succumbed to a brain tumour on October 11 at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, with his burial (budgeted to cost Sh1 million) slated for this Saturday at his rural home in Siaya county.

After his death, the netizens were first and fast to react with decorated stories, accusing Kenyan comedians of neglecting Othuol at the time of his illness. He was first reported to have been diagnosed with tuberculosis in February 2019.

A screenshot of a conversation said to be between Othuol and comedian-cum-radio presenter Felix Odiwour aka Jalang’o later went viral.

It caused an uproar online with allegations that Jalang’o refused to help the late Othuol with Sh15,000, which he intended to pay for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) medical procedure.

However, the Kiss 100 breakfast show co-host came out strongly to deny the accusations that triggered the blame game trolls. He said the alleged conversation between him and Othuol was a work of fabrication by bloggers.

“So, a blogger somewhere woke up and decided that the Othuol screenshot asking for 15k is me... You see nowadays I am so used to being associated with anything... I woke up and I saw this blog saying ‘How Jalango denied Othuol 15k’ you know how you sit somewhere and wonder what you ever did to people.

But I am used to it now and it doesn’t bother me anymore...They always look for how to bring you down (sic),” Jalang’o wrote on a social media post.

Lending a hand

He says that as comedians, they were in full support of Othuol since the first time he was admitted to hospital.

“In our group, Comedians Kenya, Sandra Dacha has been collecting money from the time Othuol was admitted the first time.

We have had more than three fundraisers that went to help sort out his hospital bills.

We have been there to the last minute,” he said, adding that he played a big role in helping Othuol establish his comedy career including helping his bag his first Luo play, his first TV show Sirkal Ya Bibi on K24 TV, his first stand-up comedy appearance on Kenya Kona and his first TV advert.

A number of comedians ran into Jalang’o’s defence claiming he was amongst the most vocal comedians who supported the fallen comic while he was sick.

Andrew Duncan aka Tumbili says Jalang’o was always there to assist Othuol financially whenever the need arose. 

“Jalang’o never abandoned Othuol even for a day. There was even a point where he paid our rent when things were not working out for the two of us.

He could only get upset when he sent Othuol some money only for him to squander it on alcohol.

He was addicted to alcohol, so this forced me to lock him inside his house many times,” he tells Spice.

Tumbili says he was close to Othuol throughout his sickness. He was the one who handled Othuol’s phone due to his brain condition that made him unable to text properly. He says he still has the phone.

“Othuol’s sickness was on and off and it is true to say that most comedians lost hope along the way, especially due to the challenges brought by Covid-19 pandemic.

It made most of us struggle to get shows unlike musicians who could earn some money through YouTube and promos,” says Tumbili.

Sandra Dacha, famously known for her role in TV dramedy Auntie Boss as Silprosa, who was mobilising the contributions in most cases, also came out to defend fellow comedians from the accusations that they abandoned Othuol in his hour of need.

She says Churchill Show host Daniel “Churchill” Ndambuki would call her often to inquire about Othuol’s progress. 

“When I updated about the budget for Othuol’s burial, which is Sh1 million, I got trolled from social media by people who poured cold water on it saying if raising Sh15,000 was a problem then what about the million bob?

What makes us more ruffled as comedians, is the Sh15,000 story that came after comedians had raised more than Sh20,000 to cater for Othuol’s MRI.

Churchill also played a big part during Othuol’s sickness, he was paying his rent,” says the actress.

Comedian Okal also chipped into the debate saying Othuol received help anytime he needed it, especially from the acting and comedy fraternity.

“Othuol was loved despite his flaws and everyone wanted him back to his feet again; no one neglected him.

We were ready to support Othuol even in his next phase of treatment, which was the surgery.

Too bad he passed away before the doctors had decided to put him under the knife,” he says.

The vicious cycle

This is not the first incident (probably not the last) the comedy industry has been put on the spot over the deaths of comedians.

In November last year, comedian James Anthony Njenga aka Njenga Mswahili was found dead along the rail tracks in Dagoretti, Nairobi.

It was said he was undergoing depression, and the pointing finger was on the industry players.

On July 4, 2020, Churchill Show comedian Joseph Musyoki Kivindu alias Kasee was found dead by the roadside in Kinoo, Kiambu county.

Again, his death unleashed a storm of a blame game, with some top comedians pointing the finger at Victor Ber, the creative director for the comedy TV show. Comic Zainab Zeddy accused Ber of frustrating Kasee, which caused a massive online uproar.

Ber later came out to clear the allegations saying that the autopsy clearly showed that Kasee had died of poisoning.

“When people say I have killed him yet the autopsy revealed that it was poison, it hurts and that is why I purposely called Zeddy to ask her why she said that.

After our talk, she agreed to delete everything she had shared online,” he said then.

A few days after Kasee’s demise, Comedians in Kenya Society through its chairman Ken Waudo released a statement of the postmortem results saying that Kasee drank from a poisoned cup, leading to his death.

Comedian Paul “Wakimani” Ogutu was also blamed for the death of fellow comic Emmanuel Makori aka Aiyeya in April 2017.

Aiyeya died after the vehicle they were travelling in lost control and rammed into a concrete pole along Nairobi’s Lang’ata Road.

The car was reported to have him and his wife, with Wakimani on the wheel.

Ayieya’s family claimed that Wakimani was responsible for the murder of their son who was also the breadwinner of the family and demanded Wakimani to pay a compensation of Sh21 million.

“After the accident, we buried Ayeiya and I thought everyone understood that it was an accident.

However, after a week or two, Ayeiya’s wife contacted me and told me that she had a letter addressed to me.

I met her the following day and she gave me a court order indicating that I am supposed to pay Sh21 million for killing her husband,” he said in an interview.

The comedian recalled how on that fateful day of the accident, Aiyeya had just made a comeback on Churchill Show after a long hiatus and since he was with the wife, he asked for a favour from Wakimani to pick him from home.

Wakimani stated that he could not delve further on the matter because the case was already in court and he would be charged with contempt of court.

“This vicious cycle of blame game is rampant within the entire creative industry.

What we need as creatives is some proper financial mechanisms to help us deal with incidences such as sicknesses or death. We cannot go on like this, laying the blame on individual persons.

We need to form strong cooperative societies and associations to invest for our future,” says filmmaker Sam Kidoto in conclusion.

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