Walking in my father’s funny footsteps
Nathan Muya Kimani aka JB Masanduku lets us in on the life of his late dad and veteran comedian Samuel Kimani Muya aka Masanduku Arap Simit
Harriet James @harriet86jim
Back in the 80s and early 90s when TV was black and white and KBC was the only local channel, the world of comedy was taking shape.
A popular programme, dubbed Vioja Mahakamani based on a courtroom set-up where criminals would be prosecuted for various crimes was the platform.
The actors’ witty lines and behaviour left many Kenyans in stitches.
Amongst these veteran comedians was the late Samuel Kimani Muya known by his stage name, Masanduku Arap Simit who entertained Kenyans with his funny Kalenjin accent.
He featured with among others, the late Mzee Ojwang’ (Benson Wanjau), Gibson Kamau (Prosecutor), Mama G aka Judge (Lucy Wangui).
Masanduku passed on in 1998 and was buried on August 7, 1998, coincidentally on the date when US Embassy terror attacks took place in the country.
Popular stand-up comedian, Nathan Kimani aka JB Masanduku, his son was just nine years old.
Thousands of fans and big names in comedy as well as men and women of cloth such as Reverend Teresia Wairimu, JB Masinde, and Bishop Mark Kariuki all came to the funeral to pay their lastrespect.
“I remember coming from Chiromo mortuary and there was a whole convoy of mourners behind us.
I heard about the blast on news in the evening after the burial. I also remember watching Fayaz Qureshi on TV announcing the news of my father, terming him as a hero,” JB recalls.
JB has fond memories of his father during his childhood.
He recalls how his father would go out of his way to create time out of his busy schedule just to take his children out every Saturday.
“I remember one time he took me on a trip in the famous double decker buses. I had my first train experience with him.
He once took me on a cruise ship from Coast to Zanzibar and it’s something that I will never forget.
In as much as he was famous, he always placed family first,” JB says.
Masanduku was a humorous guy on and off stage. It is this humour that attracted JB’s mother, Lucy Wangari who was a staff at KBC to him.
She noticed him while acting and accepted to be his wife despite facing opposition from family members.
“My mother comes from a wealthy family and she was well educated up to Master’s level.
My dad highest level was secondary education. Her family was against their marriage.
They didn’t see a future with a comedian. But she ignored them and went ahead to marry my father,” he says.
The two love birds had three children and raised them in Umoja estate, Nairobi.
JB has a younger brother, Daniel Kimani, who according to him, is the funnier one, only that he has stage fright and hasn’t gone public with his comedy.
However, he pushes his brother to explore the talent and many others that he has such as deejaying and, Information Technology. Still, JB is happy to carry his father’s mantle.
“Before I go for a show, I always call my brother for advise on what to do and ask him the current trends,” JB reveals.
It is in an effort to preserve his father’s legacy that pushed JB to fill in his father’s shoes.
Though brilliant in his studies, JB’s parents, particularly his father, never desired him to be a comedian.
JB passed his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam in 2002 scoring 438 out of 500 marks and emerged among the best pupils.
Being an orphan by then, (He lost his mother four years after his dad died), he was admitted at Starehe Boys' Centre where he also performed well under the custody of guardians.
After his Form Four he went to Russia to pursue Civil engineering in 2008.
After he came back, JB met one of the directors of Churchill Show at a party and asked him to make guests laugh. His unique sense of humour gave him an entry into the show in 2012.
“Churchill told me that my father was one of the people who made comedy be what it is today.
This was when the impact that my father had in the industry hit me,” JB notes.
He would end up taking the name JB meaning Junior Box (Masanduku Junior) to differentiate himself from his father who’s the senior Masanduku.
Though not practising his engineering profession, he sometimes meets people who need consultancy services and grants them free consultation.
JB says the memories of his father keep him sane when going through a rough patch in life. “I have done so many mistakes in life.
But when all is said and done, what keeps me strong is that I keep asking myself, if my father was alive, would I be doing what I do?
Would he be proud? This is the thought that always gets me back on track,” JB says.
He adds: “A lot of times, people ask me who my mentor is. All I can say is that my mentor is my father, and he is dead.”
Back in the day there was no social media, but what JB observed, particularly with his father is the fact that artistes were true to their craft and performed wholeheartedly regardless of the pay they received.
“For my dad, it wasn’t about money, but the connections he made. I have received a lot of favours thanks to him,” he adds.