Pastor’s kid wins big through comedy
Harriet James @harriet86jim
There’s an adage that goes, a friend loves at all times, but a brother is born for adversity.
From the time we are born, our siblings whether older or younger are in most instances our collaborators, co-conspirators, our role models or our cautionary tales.
This describes the relationship that Ngugi Ndegwa and his elder brother, Timothy Kimani aka Njugush have had since they were born.
Njugush has been a household name in the comedy scene for the last 10 years and is still making big moves together with his wife, Celestine Ndinda in their online platforms.
As a YouTube pioneer in Kenya, the comedian has inspired many vloggers who have curved a niche as content creators upsetting the traditional TV viewership.
In 2018, the funny man was recognised by the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Arts for making a mark in the entertainment industry.
Last year in July, he was feted with the Humour Recognition Award: Online Creator, for his exploits on the digital space.
In addition, he has won YouTube Silver Play Button Award, recognition by YouTube of its popular channels for having over 120,000 subscribers.
Last month, a report authored by Geopol ranked him second amongst top Kenyan digital influencers and last week, he was awarded best comedian in the NRG fanfave awards 2020.
“His achievements inspire me. He greatly helped build my belief in self. Most importantly, his belief in what he puts his focus on has inspired me to focus more on winning. I think being the elder one, he has inspired me a lot,” Ngugi says.
They are only two in the family. Njugush was born in 1991 while Ngugi in 1994.
Despite their three-year age gap, they have similarities in many things. For instance, they are both lean in appearance and wear spectacles. Both of them were in drama clubs in school.
However, there is a clear cut difference in their tastes. While Timothy loved comedy and dancing, Ngugi was and is still drawn to law, journalism and debate activities.
Ngugi is a writer, poet and an author who recently published a book, Across and Beyond, a poetry collection that has more than a hundred prose pieces on politics, love, hope and war in an African perspective.
“It is part of my literal campaign to make African content beautiful by speaking about African challenges and beauty in an African way,” he says.
His elder’s brother’s endorsement of the book makes him feel blessed that he didn’t have to look far for a guide and mentor, since his big brother fits the equation.
Ngugi also has fond memories of their childhood too. He recalls one time when they went fishing with Njugush, only to end up not catching any fish, but a tadpole. Njugush is also the one who taught him how to ride a bicycle.
Their father, Rev Bernard Ndegwa is a reverend at PCEA church while their mum, Jane Njambi, a business woman.
“Due to my father’s nature of work, we were raised in several places. First in Kikuyu, a place called Nguriunditu and Ruai, Joska.
We have also lived in Kikuyu town, Eldoret, Mau Narok, among others. I loved that life because it made me travel and experience of many places and its people,” Ngugi recalls
Being pastor’s kids, they were raised in a strict, Christian family. Ngugi recalls how he and his brother were expected to be in Church until the end of the service, which ended mostly at 1pm.
The main rule was not to go out unless going to the washroom.
He also remembers the perks, which included eating food meant for elders and that excited his 10-year-old self.
Making friends with the elders easily was also something that they enjoyed.
But like most pastor’s kids, they had to deal with unrealistic expectations from church members.
“Once a teacher punished me for singing K-rupt’s song, Twende Tukawake and she kept on saying that mtoto wa pastor anaimba wimbo mbaya,” he recalls.
Though annoying, the brothers grew tough skin to such comments as they charted their own paths.
The most important values their deeply religious parents taught them were having hope, faith and to always put God first, something that has both grounded and instilled discipline in them.
Njugush attended Naaro High School, Murang’a from 2005 to 2009. Ngugi joined him in the same school when Njugush was in Form Four.
In 2010, Njugush joined Kenya Institute of Mass Communication to study journalism while Ngugi joined Maseno University to study Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 2013.
Njugush used to host a reggae show on the school’s radio station, Education Communication Network (ECN).
His journey into comedy began in 2012 when he got a small role in a school’s play during National Drama Festivals.
It is through this role that he later got noticed by Abel Mutua in 2013 for a role in Hapa Kule News that aired on a local TV station.
“He was given a segment called Masaibu ya Njuguna and this is where the stage name Njugush came from,” Ngugi reveals.
In 2014, he got a slot in the TV series, The Real Househelps of Kawangware, where he still acted as Njugush, a young, hustling hawker who made househelps fight just to win his heart. He left the show in 2016. It was after this that he became an online content creator.
“Financial constraints was one of the major obstacles he faced. The fact that online content was not quite a thing saw gaining audience a challenge,” Ngugi says.
The same year, Njugush tied the knot to the love of his life and now his partner in business, Celestine Ndinda in a private affair witnessed by family and close friends.
His younger brother was one of the groomsmen and he recalls how positively this event changed his outlook on marriage.
“My view, before my brother’s wedding was that one had to wait till they are older and probably wealthier. But they have stuck it out for richer, for poorer,” he adds.
In 2018, the couple had their son, Tugi Kimani who just like his parents, has recently warmed his way into the Kenyan hearts with his YouTube channel, which is his innocent take on everyday issues as well as his comical interactions with his folks.
With the increase of online audience due to Covid-19, Njugush has been forced to up his game to produce creative content.
For Ngugi, though his business was affected, the season has assisted him to have more time to sit and work on his writing project.