Why Jalang’o Never Got a Chance to Say Goodbye to Papa Shirandula

July 21, 2023

Tuesday, July 18 marked three years since the country lost one of the most iconic TV actors, Charles Bukeko aka Papa Shirandula.

Aged 58, Papa Shirandula succumbed to COVID-19-related complications and was laid to rest on July 20 in his Namisi-Bukeko village home in Nanderema, Funyula in Busia County.

On Thursday, tributes poured in from those who had the privilege of working closely with the late Bukeko, celebrating him as a trailblazer in the industry.

One of the more profound tributes came from Lang’ata MP Phelix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o, who penned a heartfelt message on social media.

The MP, one of Papa’s many protégés, recounted how he learned about Bukeko’s passing and how everything unfolded so quickly.

At the time, the government had imposed restrictions on movement in several regions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jalas recounted receiving a call from pastor Robert Burale, who inquired if he had spoken to Papa Shirandula and requested him to reach out to him.

“Today we celebrate Papa! It’s in the height of covid and the whole country is in a panic not knowing what will happen. I received a call from @burale1 asking me if I had talked to Papa, I told him its been a minute then he tells me to try and call him and he hangs up before I ask why….quickly I grab my phone called Papas number, Mama picked and told me she knows why I am calling confirming that Papa had passed on.

“I quickly jumped to the car drove to Karen hospital, most actors had already arrived and the somber mood and the silence of death hit me, You didn’t have to ask to confirm if the rumors were true,” Jalas wrote.

The comedian said he did not even get a proper chance to view the actor’s body.

“I quickly asked where the body was and if there was a chance to view the body @jackyvike told me wamekata wanasema ni covid. After pleading with the officials for hours they told me they will only open the doors of the room where the body was for a quick glance without having to go in! He opened the door and papa was all covered and the only thing that convinced me that it was him was the fact that paps was big and you couldn’t miss knowing him.”

The actors present at the hospital then gathered to initiate burial arrangements and left with the belief that they would give Papa Shirandula a fitting farewell.

“At 2 pm we were told that paps was being transferred to Montezuma funeral home, all this time we still think that we have a plan to say a goodbye and most of us are already thinking of how to get permits that will allow a nice sendoff despite of covid regulations. At midnight we were told the body and family are on their way to Busia! How? No time to ask! Get a flight ticket to Kisumu! We land in Kisumu at 8 a.m. and the funeral service is live on citizen TV! We get a car running to Busia! While on the way the burial is over!” Jalas narrated.

By the time Jalang’o arrived, Papa Shirandula’s grave had already been cemented. They were afforded only 30 minutes to say their goodbyes.

“The health officials gave us 30mins to stand by the grave and leave Busia county! We asked why? Watu wa Nairobi wako na Corona! Nobody in the village wants even to come closer! That’s how we never got a chance to say goodbye to Papa! Keep resting! Thank you for everything!” Jalas concluded.

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