Kenya has lost another legend in the country’s TV and FILM industry, following the death of actor Benson Wanjau (78), popularly known as Mzee Ojwang.
Ojwang passed away on Sunday evening at the Kenyatta National Hospital where he had been admitted and was receiving treatment for pneumonia. He had also been reported to have been suffering from an eye ailment that had caused him partial blindness.
He was one of the pioneers of local TV programmes, where he played lead roles in programmes such as Vitimbi, Vioja Mahakami, Vituko and Kinyonga among others.
The comical Mzee ojwang, who has entertained Kenyans for four decades, had also together with his Vioja team, been part of artists who have been lined up to entertain the public and dignitaries at national state functions.
SAVE MZEE OJWANG
In March 10th this year, news that Ojwang was ailing and could barely afford the cost of medication went viral after the Vitimbi crew led by Mama Kayai paid Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko a visit at his office to seek financial help and take the comedian to hospital.
Sonko came to the aid of Ojwang and the Sonko Rescue Team rushed Ojwang’ to Loresho Hospital to see an ophthalmologist as Kenyans took to social media under the hashgtag #OkoaMzeeOjwang to call for assistance in support of the legendary thespian.
Mama Kayai, who had all along acted as mzee Ojwang’s wife to the extent that most viewers thought they were actually a real couple, called on the government to look into the welfare of veteran artists.
“Serikali inafaa kuangalia masilahi ya wasanii na sikungojea kusaidia saa zile mtu amekufa. Angali sasa kama mzee ojwang, amehangaika huo mda wote bila usaidizi wowote/ the government should look into the welfare of artists and not just wait to offer assistance when a person dies, mzee ojwang for instance was suffering all this time and no one came to his rescue,” she said
Mzee Ojwang will be celebrated as one of the fathers of comedy in Kenya whose work especially in the 1980s and 90s set the foundation for many of the comedians flourishing today.
PRESIDENT UHURU PAYS TRIBUTE TO MZEE OJWANG
“I have learnt with great sadness about the passing of Benson Wanjau, who was better known to all his fans in Kenya and beyond as Mzee Ojwang.
Mzee Ojwang lived a full life of great artistic accomplishment. His role as Mzee Ojwang is unforgettable and iconic. His devotion to that character and role was exemplary. Through it, Wanjau educated, informed and entertained Kenyans with unparalleled dexterity. He taught without sounding preachy, informed without boring anyone, and entertained without becoming trivial,” Reads a section of the tribute posted on Uhuru’s facebook page.
…….“I looked forward to socialising with Mzee Ojwang and other artistes during the opening of the refurbished National Theatre. My sadness is greater for the knowledge that this will not happen. On behalf of my Government and the people of Kenya, I extend words of comfort, encouragement and condolence to the family, colleagues and friends of Mzee Wanjau.
A great artist has taken his final bow. We salute him. A legendary Kenyan has gone to rest. We wish him a fitting farewell. May God give you the strength to bear his passing, and may his soul find eternal rest in God’s kingdom,”