Witty man Benson Gathungu aka Muthee Kiengei, may not have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but as his wife Keziah Kariuki reveals, he made fun out of life to be among the leading Kikuyu comedians
Why Muthee Kiengei? It is a nickname given to him by his mother when he was still young. He was a hyper child, always on the move. And he had a funny walking style.
When he got into comedy, he chose to use the name. How much do you know of his childhood?
Much of what I know is what he tells me. He was born in 1986, a lastborn in a family of nine. He was brought up in a poor family at Maji Mazuri village in Eldama Ravin, Baringo county.
He attended Maji Mazuri Forest Primary School and later the family moved to Nakuru where he attended Utumishi Secondary School, but dropped out in Form Two for lack of school fees.
What happened after dropping out of school?
Life was not that easy and he was forced to look for a job. Fortunately, he got a job as a watchman. He used to guard a certain building, which was under construction in Nakuru. He then became a boda boda operator. Also, he would do street comedy because he has a sense of humour since his childhood days.
How did you two meet and how is he as a father and a husband?
We met in Nakuru in 2009. I was a radio presenter at Bahasha FM. He used to attend our road shows. Plus he was a fan of my shows and would narrate everything I said on air whenever we met. He later moved from Nakuru to Nairobi to do his comedy and we reunited. We got married in 2011.
Given that you earned more than him during his humble beginnings, how was dating like?
We used to meet just for tea or coffee, which was even hard for him to afford. He once gave me Sh500, but he confessed to me later after we got married that he had borrowed the money just to make me happy.
He is a comedian, an actor, a business person, a radio host, and recently he launched Kiengei Live Comedy.
How does he do all this?
He doesn’t have a fixed schedule per se, but he knows how to plan his time well. Sometimes we miss him at home. There are days he comes home late and leaves early in the morning. But I’m happy for him.
How did he join the media industry?
There was a time when Kameme Mwas doing a talent search in Nakuru and he emerged the best. That is how he got a chance to be on radio.
What is it that people don’t know about him?
Just because he is a comedian doesn’t mean he isn’t a serious guy. But he doesn’t hold his anger for one hour. He is also a bornagain Christian and a pastor.
In few words how can you describe him?
Loving, caring, intelligent and a go-getter. You are also in the media industry.
Has this affected your family, considering you recently joined Kameme TV and he’s in Kameme FM?
I got into media three years before him and we are comfortable working in the same field. We always watch and listen to one another and also advise where need be. If at any time I feel or he feels any of us didn’t deliver in our shows, that calls for a meeting in the house to know the reason why. Working together does not affect our family since he has an evening show while I work during the day.
Do you attend his shows and what role do you take in his career?
Yes, I attend his shows though not all. I am his number one fan and I like his jokes so much I can listen to him all through.
What are his weaknesses and strengths?
He will never tell you he’s broke. And even if he doesn’t have money, he will have a way of keeping you hopeful until he gets it. He is also a generous man and sometimes I am afraid that if he is left alone in the house, he can give out everything including our bed.