Jeff Okello aka Ninja is not just an actor and a comedian—he is also a family man. His life revolves around being in Kenya and Finland where his wife, Katja Maria Huhta, and children reside. She lets us in on their relationship, parenting, career and more
Harriet James @harriet86jim
You welcomed your second baby less than a month ago. How has the parenting journey been?
So far, we thank God. Our latest addition, baby Leo, is doing well. Jeff had already travelled to Finland, where I live, earlier in the year to be with us. He is a great dad and a doting father to our children. As parents, Jeff and I are focused on doing the best for our children. Our firstborn daughter, Ella, who is almost two years, is fun to be with. She loves dancing and singing.
How different is Kenyan parenting from the Finnish?
I wouldn’t say there is so much difference because raising children depends on the individuals involved no matter where you are. But in terms of instilling discipline, here we focus on having dialogue with the children, sitting them down and showing them the way. We don’t beat children.
You walked down the isle early this year, while you dated for almost four years. Tell us more about your relationship.
We met in Kayole, Nairobi, when I was a volunteer worker. I loved his sense of humour and the two of us hit it off immediately. So, we decided to take a step at a time. It was a smooth relationship since inception with no cultural differences because we both have an open mind. In the course of our relationship, we got a baby girl, Ella. We decided to solemnise our marriage on January 14, this year.
Is Jeff planning to move to Finland in future?
Not exactly. He has a job in Kenya and he’s happy working there. He always comes here to see us and is always there for us.
I also come to Kenya often. Even when we are not physically together, we communicate often, so I’m not complaining.
Having been in a long distance relationship, what would you say are the challenges of such a marriage?
It is not easy, especially because of lack of face-to-face contact and you don’t get to see your partner as much as you would want to. Fortunately, our work is flexible. I travel to Kenya and he comes to Finland to be with each other. We always make sure we are together during special occasions such as birthdays, childbirth, among others.
Speaking of work, what career are you both in?
I work as a chief cabin crew for Finnair and I’m also in charitable work, while Jeff is an actor.
Describe Jeff to us. What is that one thing people don’t know about him?
He is so spiritual and a firm believer. He is also a comic guy, but I guess you already know that based on his acting. But he is also a music director—he has directed songs such as Mazigwembe by G-tatu and Strong Enough by Afrikanah &Kate.
Take us through his acting career.
He has loved acting since he was young. Growing up, he worshipped at Kariobangi SDA church. Here he would act Bible stories. By the age of 12, he had already known that this was his preference. But professionally, he started with a minor role in Inspekta Mwala before proceeding to join the Mother-In-Law team. He was the main actor in the movie Briefcase by Sam Oluoko. He is also a producer. He produced the movie Nyawana in 2014.
What challenges did he face in his acting journey?
His major challenge was convincing his parents who were staunch Adventists and his uncles who had white collar jobs, that his heart was in acting. However, his acting prowess spoke for him and they have since supported his career.
As his wife, how much do you know of his childhood?
(Laughs) Jeff comes from a humble family. He is the fifth born in his family — he has one brother and six sisters. He began his primary education at Salama Primary School, Nairobi, from 1990 to1999. He then moved to St Teresa’s Boys Secondary School, Nairobi, from 2000 to 2003 for his secondary education.
What advice can you give couples out there?
Be yourself. And if people are against your relationship, grow a thick skin.