Talent in adversity: Otonglo narrator lives with widowed mum in slum. – You probably first came to know him as Sylvester Ogwamfumbe: “the only man with an English name from Nyamfoi county regional Diaspora!”
But unlike the character he played in his oral narrative at the national drama festival, David Owira is far from a, “proud owner of all the prices you see in this town: Mr Price, Mc Price, Enterprise, Car Price and for the sake of women’s representatives, I am soon building Mrs Price.”
He lives in a one-room shanty with his mother, sister, niece and cousins in the Fuata Nyayo slum of South B and until recently, going to school and having a lunchtime meal was as Ogwamfumbe said, “as luxurious as driving a Mercedes Benz.”
“When his KCPE results came out he was called to a school in Milimani but when we factored in the bus fare and the fact that they did not offer lunch, we sought out an opening at the Highway Secondary School which is in our neighbourhood,” Owira’s big sister Susan told Capital FM News.
Thanks to his exemplary performance in front of President Uhuru Kenyatta as part of the Highway drama team last Friday; his fortunes like those of Ogwamfumbe have changed for the better after well-wishers cleared his school fees arrears.
“The only reason I was able to perform in front of the President is because of my teachers. Even though my mom was unable to put together enough money for my fees they would let me sit in for my classes,” Owira recollected.
Now other well-wishers have a chance to contribute to the Daniel Owira Education Fund through the M-PESA paybill number 977250 at no charge, “A paybill number is preferable to using Daniel’s personal M-PESA account as the transactions are not capped at Sh140,000,” Catherine Kaunda who works in the Safaricom Financial Services Division explained to Capital FM News on Tuesday.
“Sanitation was a problem in Lower Karen,” Ogwafumbe narrated to the President, “one needed to pay Sh10 for long calls, Sh5 for short calls and Sh2 for SMS, Short Medium Short calls. In case one did not have ‘otongolo’ (money) to make the calls, you will use the readily available Okoa Jahazi: BPFT – Black Polythene Flying Toilet.”
Hopefully thanks to the generosity of well-wishers, Owira like Ogwamfumbe will no longer have any reason to resort to BPFT.
“I want to be a lawyer. I was not sure how that was going to happen when my dad died but now I have hope,” Owira shared with this reporter.
Owira’s father died when he was seven years of age and he was forced to drop out of school because his mother could not afford to pay his school fees.
“My father who was a mechanic was the breadwinner and it was during the Moi era so you had to pay fees in primary school. I only went back to school when President Kibaki made it free,” Owira explained.
Owira returning to standard one at nine years of age also explains why he is nineteen years of age and still in his second year of high school but according to Susan, one might say it worked out for the best, “the Bible says a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before Kings.”
And anyone who witnessed Owira hold centre stage as the Head of State and his wife bent over in laughter will be hard pressed to dispute that.
“Mr President, let me take a picture profile of myself to remind me that I was once in Mombasa,” Owira said before exiting the stage and given the reception his performance has received and the good will his plight has elicited, he did not walk off the stage to oblivion.