Where is Owira, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s son?
The President’s son, 4 exciting years later : Daniel Owira became a celebrity, winning the hearts of many including President Uhuru Kenyatta, after presenting a narrative titled Otonglo Time during the 2013 annual Kenya Schools, Colleges and Universities Drama Festivals winners concert at State House, Mombasa. The narrative ending with “Mr President, tweet me yawa!” left Uhuru, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and other guests in stitches. Uhuru later adopted him and started paying for his education. However, unknown to many is that performing a narrative in his school was a preserve for Form Fours. So when Owira, a mere Form Two, snatched the opportunity from the big boys, they started scheming his downfall.
“Were it not for drama director Clifford Ouma who noticed my talent, stuck with me and protected me, l would have yielded to pressure from the big boys who were breathing fire,” Owira confides.
So, where is Owira?
The Metropolitan caught up with Owira at Multimedia University, where he’s pursuing a degree in Journalism and Media Studies; Film and Animation. He was busy studying with two of his colleagues.
“We had a theory class in Film Classification this morning. There are no afternoon classes because students are campaigning for elections. We’re discussing on our own,” the second-year student reveals. Owira joined Multimedia University after he scored a mead grade of C+. He’s an average student and appreciates his grade. He says: “People think since President is paying my fees l should have done better. They are all wrong. God gave me this grade.” He has always wanted to be at Multimedia University because it has equipment for film practicals. “I want him (Uhuru) to visit after the busy campaigns and see my progress,” he says. Owira started acting when he joined Highway Secondary, where he also discovered he was also talented in sports. “I was attracted, joined and played Rugby, football, Cricket and Basketball. Surprisingly, l was good in all of them,” he boasts.
Owira became one of first 11 dependable players on the school football team. It was rare for a Form One student to achieve this. Then came drama. One evening while in class, he heard noise from one of the classes and rushed to see what was happening. He found students getting ready to take roles in drama. He joined in, shouted and left. Little did Owira know drama director Clifford Ouma had noticed his noise-making was unique and that he could act. Ouma sought him out. “He started by giving me small roles; one line, followed by a paragraph and soon l became the lead actor, displacing many seasoned ones,” he recounts. Then came the conflict between football and drama. He reveals: “My coach, who was also the deputy principal, Mr Olango, wanted me to be part of the team that was preparing for school tournaments, while the drama director, Mr Ouma, wanted me in drama. I was at a crossroads. I prayed to God to intervene and finally I settled on drama.”
He says this was the best decision he ever made. But his becoming a lead actor did not go down well with seasoned actors. “It was a shock that l joined drama in Form One and got several lead roles in acting. On many occasions while rehearsing they would mock, chide and tell me the adjudicators would fire me from stage before l was done with introducing a play,” he confides. In Form Two, Owira presented the ‘Otonglo Time’ narrative, which would propel him to fame. The big boys tried to wrestle it from him without success. He says, naturally, the Luo accent he used made them think he would not go far. “They even used the accent to try to take it away from me but in vain,” he explains. He lauds his director for standing with him. During competition, beginning with zonals, he would switch from position one and three to reach the nationals, which were staged in Mombasa. After presenting ‘Otonglo Time’ in Mombasa, everyone declared him the winner but judges the judges were not impressed. When the announcement came, he was not among the top three.
He discloses: “I cried, wondering why l couldn’t be among the best three.” The following day they packed, ready to return to school. As the bus left, one of the officials stopped them and ordered Owira and his troupe to come down for he was scheduled to perform at State House. “It shocked me because, traditionally, those who perform at such functions are supposed to have topped at the national level. As l alighted l sensed all was not well during the finals,” he recalls. At the State House concert, he did his best, which was good enough to convince Uhuru to adopt him. He called Owira and told him they would meet in Nairobi. Two days later, in Nairobi, while attending the burial of his cousin, State House director of digital communication Dennis Itumbi called and informed him that Uhuru wanted him at State House. The following day, Owira visited State House in the company of his teacher, mother and sister. “Uhuru took me around State House. It was like a dream because l had never thought something like that could happen. The President asked what he should do for me. I was confused whether to choose money or shamba. After a serious thought, l picked education,” he says. The Head of State promised to pay his school fees. He is now one of over 400 students under the Kenyatta Trust Foundation that pays for his education. At that time, Uhuru posted on his Facebook page: “I have today offered full education sponsorship up to the university level to Daniel Owira when he visited me at State House. He is now one of my sons and will give me his report form at the end of every term…” Four years later, Owira is in university. He says: “I am taking my academics seriously to better my future and those of others.”
He almost dropped out of school due to lack of fees but he found a foreign sponsor who later disappeared and his troubles resumed. Owira says he was almost giving up on education until President Uhuru came to his rescue. He promises to make his ‘father’ proud.