Top comic Eric Omondi has bared his soul about his acquaintanceship with the late Churchill show comedian, Njenga Mswahili.
In news that rocked the comedy fraternity, Njenga Mswahili, born Anthony Njenga, was found dead on Thursday, November 7, in Ndonyo Market, Dagoretti South, after reportedly being hit by a train.
While the circumstances of his death remain unclear, Eric Omondi has intimated that Mswahili had been battling depression for nearly three years.
“I first met him at Carnivore. He was a comic with a unique delivery who took advantage of his flowery Swahili to create a niche for himself. However, for like three years he was not ok. The sad bit is that he tried to get help and spoke to me on two or three occasions. I chipped in a little,” Eric recounted.
In an interview at Milele FM, Eric revealed that Mswahili told him that he had started preaching.
“The last I remember he told me he had gotten saved and started preaching. We met at Dagoretti Junction area where he told me he was not okay. I asked him to get into the supermarket and pick the things that he needed, which he did and I settled the bill. One month later, I was informed that he had been arrested. On inquiring I was told he shoplifted,” he narrated.
The next time they met is when Eric Omondi realised that Mswahili was depressed.
“When I later bumped into him is when it hit me that he was battling depression. This is something many people knew. Today, life has become fast-paced, someone could be shouting for help, sinking, but people are not taking notice. Have we lost our humanity? Njenga was screaming. He was trying to make ends meet and it was not working. This went on for three years,” said Eric.
The funnyman added that he was partly to blame for assuming that Mswahili would pull through.
“This has hit closer home for me. This is someone I knew and experienced his struggles. I also blame myself because of the assumption that I had that he would get better. Being a man, I think the saying ‘jikaze wewe ni mwanaume’ played a role in many not listening to him,” Omondi observed.
FAMOUS BUT BROKE
The recently crowned African King of Comedy 2019 also spoke about how public figures in Kenya are at risk of falling into depression.
“If you are a public a figure with no steady income, chances are high that you will sink into depression. You have nowhere to go considering your celebrity lifestyle. It eats you up from within.
“I remember when I started featuring in Churchill Live, in the first five months, I was very famous but very broke. I could not walk in the streets. I would board matatus and many would think I was shooting an episode but in the real sense, I had nothing. I was soaking in sweat,” said Omondi.
He further called for mentorships, explaining that he was able to navigate the ropes of the comedy business after seeking advice from veteran comedian Daniel Ndambuki.
“We need mentors. I didn’t know the modalities of getting by, I had just come from Kisumu. I asked Churchill why I was famous and dead broke and he taught me how to make extra cash by scouting for events and making savings.
“Churchill asked me to look for a manager so he can get me shows, and I did exactly that. Soon I had discovered how I could use my talent to better my life. These upcoming entertainers whether comedians or musicians need mentors, someone to talk to,” said Omondi.