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read the full story
I am Comedian Muthee Marungo but my real name is Jackson Nganga Mwangi. I am 33 years old and I live in Dandora, Nairobi. I have a wife and two kids, aged 5 years and 2 months. It is a long time I have been a comedian, since 2010. Before that, I was selling plastic products, like thermos. I decided to be a comedian because when I was young, I would attend church Crusades. People did not like attending and so I decided to encourage them to attend through dancing differently dressing differently. I would also paint my face. I was making people happy. When they saw me, they’d come near. When the church saw that my efforts were paying off. They encouraged me by funding the very first production of my CD. While in school, I would make my classmates laugh.
Now, I perform here in the streets of Nairobi. People know me. They love me. When there are traffic jams, I go on the road and perform for people in their cars. I sell CDs of my comedy on the road and other items at good price. I pray to God for traffic jams so that I can do my work. I go to ceremonies (graduations, weddings) and perform as the MC. Some people in their cars will watch me perform then hire me for their ceremonies. I can make 20,000 kenya shillings in a day.
Many times I make people on traffic laugh. I tell them that yes they are on traffic because God has heard my prayer to allow traffic to happen so that I can sell them my cds. Many of them laugh. They may seem rich because of the cars that they drive, but they have different ranges of problems that make them feel stressed and cause them anxiety and depression. I try and make them forget their problems even if for a short while. I also note that some of the people on traffic are mean to me. They look down upon me and think that I can infect them with covid. So when I approach them they close their windows. This makes me sad.
Mental health to me is the well-being of the state of our mind. Just the same way we say we are suffering from malaria or typhoid, our minds also can get sick. When our mind is unwell then we can say we have a mental illness. We can do things that we normally would not be able to do.
In Kenya I must say the major cause of mental illness is money. Lack of money and the stress of it has driven so many people into being mentally unwell.
Laughter is good for afya ya kiakili (mental health). When you are happy, you cannot die quickly. You laugh, you live long. When you see me perform, you cannot be with stress. The more you are happy, the more you live.
I have experienced mental health struggles. This happened last year during this period of the pandemic. I used to live somewhere and because of the restrictions brought about covid, I could not get any gigs. I was unable to pay rent and the landlord came and removed the iron sheets that covered my roof. It was very embarrassing for me and my family. My mind was in turmoil and I became depressed.
Laughter helped me and my family get through all this. I would come in the house at the end of the day with nothing to feed my family. I would then tell them to wash their hands so that we could “eat” the laughs instead of food. It was not easy but it always worked!
I like to make my kids laugh. It makes me happy and puts me in good health. I will add a kid after COVID.
I have had many friends who have struggled with mental health. My very close friend thought that by putting up his own church he would get very many people coming for service. When he put it up, no one came into his church and this drove him into being mentally unstable. He had to be taken to the hospital that is here in Nairobi called Mathari Mental Hospital. We prayed for him . It is also believed that he must have been attacked by the spirits. We as Africans sometimes believe that when a person has a mental illness he must be under the spell of the evil spirits.
COVID-19 has been difficult. It has affected my business as people are spending more money on themselves and don’t want to to talk to others.
I must say that Covid is a “Man amongst Men” Since March everything was brought to a standstill with this virus. No school no work, people lost their jobs everybody was affected. I mean even now we are still struggling. Businesses closed down. Very many people were mentally affected by this pandemic.
The laughter that we would see in everybody ebbed away. We cannot laugh on empty stomachs. People have debts all over because of this pandemic. This situation has been further compounded by the doctors going on strike. So many deaths have happened as a result of this.
I have also played my part in helping young people who did not know what to do with themselves join comedy. They are now able to make a living through their God given talents. Am happy with this. Am not threatened with them because I know am good at what I do.
My dream for the future is to make more money and continue to make people happy. I want to finish by saying that this year is our year of restoration. With God everything is possible. I thank God for the opportunity to be alive even today.