Joy Karambu, better known by the stage name Kawira is a household name thanks to her hilarious role on seasoned television series Papa Shirandula. The Gakoromone school girl is a professional journalist, DJ and actress. But there is more to her than meets the eye. She spoke to eDaily and opened up about her story.
This is it:
- Born and raised in Timau, Meru County
“I was born and raised in Timau – an area between Meru and Nanyuki. I am the last born in a family of three girls.”
Ironically, she says growing up as the last child “was not so much fun”.
“I could run away from home and look for other kids to play with. Between my immediate elder sister and I, there is an age difference of ten years. I used to climb trees, jump in the rivers, play football, roll tyres. Basically, I did a lot of boy stuff.”
- Brought up by single parent
Kawira’s father passed on while she was 4; hence she, and her sisters, were brought up solely by their mum.
“My mum, sisters and I call ourselves ‘The Four Women’. Contrary to what many would think, I did not experience a lot of challenges being raised by a single parent. I only missed running to someone who could physically protect me against harassment.”
- Kawira is born again
“I am saved. I have always been a staunch Christian from the word go. I was born again when I was in primary school and I have never looked back.”
“Being born again can be challenging, depending on the friends you keep. Friends would often test your faith – I remember some of my pals nicknamed me mshamba (village girl) for my spiritual stance. Very many temptations have been thrown my way, but I have always stood my ground.”
“I have never taken alcohol, I have never gone clubbing; instead, I go for kesha (vigils) – many would say my life is boring.”
- Angelic Girls’ Secondary School alumnus
“I attended Timau Primary School and Angelic Girls’ Secondary School in Meru. Life wasn’t really good as the high school did not support my acting – they were really into sports. I thus participated in athletics.”
“I was the school’s deputy head girl.”
- Kawira is a professional DJ
After completing high school, Kawira enrolled for a course in deejaying at an academy and later pursued a diploma in Mass Communication at East Africa Institute of Professional Studies (EAIPS).
“I did not practice deejaying because most of the gigs I would get were night club performances and given my spiritual bearing, I declined such offers.”
Kawira would later intern at Bibilia Husema Broadcasting (BHB) for seven months and Royal Media Services (RMS’) Muga FM. I later got a radio presentation job in one of the vernacular radio stations until November, last year.”
“Right now I am planning to go back to school for drama and theatrical arts, and at the same time look for greener pastures as I still have passion for radio.”
- Kawira started acting when she was in kindergarten
“Besides expressing interest in acting during my elementary schooling, I got firm grip of the practice in Sunday School. I could script, act and direct – though not very tactfully then. My passion would die in high school, but resurface in college.”
A friend would later advise her to go to the Kenya National Theatre (KNT) where she would be given roles to perform. However, the on and off calls from producers at the facility killed her spirit and she was thus forced to look for an alternative.
“When I was on internship at RMS, I interacted with the producer of Papa Shirandula who told me there was no space for the creation of a new character and asked me to wait for one year. I kept calling the producer; persisted; hanged around and after one year, I landed a role in the local drama.”
The artistic actress says she was integrated into the local drama because of her acting ingenuity.
“It’s interesting how Kawira character was incorporated in the script – the producer asked me if I could get a school uniform, a bag… I answered on the affirmative. He thereafter asked if I could pull a Kikuyu accent, I tried; but he realised I could effortlessly deliver in Ameru accent. He was very impressed to an extent that he just inserted my lines in the script using a pencil – I wasn’t originally incorporated in the drama’s plan. Since then, the experience has been wonderful!”
- About her trademark bald look
“It was a coincidence that at the time I auditioned for Kawira role on Papa Shirandula, I had short hair and since then it’s been my trademark look.”
“However, I am currently growing my hair for a change, na pia jua ni kali sana (and the sun is sweltering hot, hence I need to develop a ‘scalp-protection’ mechanism!).
- On settling down at a tender age
Kawira tied the knot in November 22, 2014 to the man of her dreams, Ephantus Wahome, while she was in her mid twenties. Mr Wahome is a pastor, gospel artiste and motivational speaker.
The adorable pair met at an event that was managed by Mr Wahome; and Kawira was the concert’s emcee.
“My man had the qualities I was looking for – all the attributes I had prayed to God to help me find.”
The pair would fall in love and since then, they are growing stronger by the day – including in marriage; in Kawira’s words: “The institution of marriage is not as difficult as people claim.”
- On difficulty adapting to marriage life
Kawira says when she was new in marriage, it was quite difficult to adjust to the expectations of being a wife as she was used to her freedom; which was in abundance when she was single.
“It (early phase of marriage) was hard! I have not been raised by a man and with boys around. So, I was wondering why my husband was telling me what to do; why we should go to church together; why I couldn’t go to my mum’s place the way I wanted; why I couldn’t hook up with my friends the way I used to; basically why were things changing? At my parents’ house, I wasn’t cooking since I was the last born – so I was thrown into a world where I had to cook every day.
“He (Mr Wahome) had issues with that; but I learnt to submit.
“Submission doesn’t hurt at all; if a woman does so, the husband often fulfills everything she asks for. Do you know why the Bible says a woman should submit and a man should love? It’s because a man often doesn’t know how to love and a woman doesn’t know how to submit – submission proves quite hard to women because it makes them (women) appear inferior and suppressed – that is not the case.”
- Kawira’s words of advice to readers on matters marriage
“Marriage is till death do you part. If you get into the institution with a mindset that your man will desert you, he certainly will. If you go looking for a wrong in a man, you will find one. If you have insecurities that you would divorce, you sure will divorce. The grass often looks greener on the other side; until you get there is when you realise that the green grass grows in sewage.”
Kawira has further nuggets of wisdom in form of three key pillars that keeps marriage intact.
“Communication is foremost – even if a confession is on the worst of imaginations, make it. Number two is trust: if you don’t trust a man, don’t be too quick to tell him or show it – when he learns of your insecurities, he certainly will do the mischief you suspected him of; that’s what I have learnt. And always maintain a consistent light tone when disagreeing with your man.
“Number three is submission: as a woman, always submit! Put away all that career-woman mentality once you enter the house. Submission entails a lot; even if you have hired a house help; she can do the cooking, and you personally serve your husband.”