Three years after Daniel Owira alias Otonglo was adopted by President Uhuru Kenyatta, he has a lot to smile about. He has appeared in a number of commercials, joined university and found a second home
“Tweet me Mr President, tweet me,” is how Daniel Owira, better known as Otonglo, ended his hilarious creative solo narrative at the state concert of the 2013 National Drama Festival in Mombasa. That saw him get an appointment at the House on the hill, after his performance not only impressed, but also made President Uhuru Kenyatta tear in laughter.
“I received a call after we came back to Nairobi asking me to go to State House. The next day, my teacher, my mother, my sister and I made our way there. Owira says since that time, his life has never been the same. The President ‘adopted’ him and offered to educate him to his highest level.
He also caters for Owira’s upkeep. Doors of opportunity opened for Owira. Owing to his sense of humour and convincing personality, corporates came calling for him to promote their products. Currently, he has featured in Naivas and Orange adverts. He also emcees at various events.
Before this, life was not easy for Owira who was born and raised in Nairobi’s Mukuru kwa Njenga slums. “My mum is a fish monger and I come from a big family. My dad is deceased. He had two wives and 11 children. My mum is the first wife and I have four sisters and two brothers.
I’m the last born in the whole family though,” says the 22-year-old. From what he earns from advertising ventures, among others, he supports his family. His mother moved from the slum to a rented house in Tasia. His stepmother, however, lives in the Coast.
Owira completed his secondary education last year and scored a mean grade C+, which is the minimum score required to earn him a university slot. “I was grateful to God for my performance. The President also received my results positively and asked me what I would want to do in life.
He supported my dream and I’m pursuing a degree in Film Production and Animation at Multi-Media University. I knew my academic strength. I was a hard-working average student, so I was glad with what I got and even congratulated myself,” says the first year student.
He sees the President once in three months. “He is a busy man and has a tight schedule. So, he’s the one who invites me over. We have a normal conversation like a father and son do and he advises me a lot,” he beams.
The President talks to him about life and reminds him to focus on his education first, “…wachana na hii mambo ingine mingi, zitakuja tu baadaye (…don’t get involved in many other things, you will eventually achieve them later…)” is what he tells Owira.
When they are done with their chit chat, Owira takes strolls around State House because to him, it is like a second home. His status has made him be more careful. “I not only represent myself, but also the President. So, I am careful about who I hang out with and how I behave in public.
When I became the President’s ‘son’, I underwent training from The Kenyatta Trust together with all those that the President chooses to support. And so, I am well equipped to handle publicity,” Owira reveals. He also attributes his ability to balancing school, family, friends and his art to the training he went through. Owira is cautious in life. “I do not even have a girlfriend,” he intimates.
At the moment, he is focusing on his studies and wants to perfect his artistic skills. “Education is my priority. I want to become a scriptwriter, a film director and an editor and to achieve this, I simply must remain focused and work hard,” he notes.
“I am forever grateful to my mum who is my number one fan, my best friend and my pillar and President Uhuru for taking me in and making it possible for me to curve my future,” he concludes.