Awinja: From poverty in Eastleigh to bagging multimillion deals

Jacky Vike, also known by her artistic pseudonym Awinja, stands as one of Kenya’s most influential and accomplished actresses and comedians.

Awinja’s stage name gained prominence when she secured a significant role in the popular show Papa Shirandula alongside the late Charles Bukeko. In the show, she portrayed a primitive house girl with a distinct Luhya accent, symbolizing the behavior of village girls in urban settings. Despite the TV character projecting a ‘Kienyeji’ and outdated appearance, Jacky Vike is a striking and fashionable woman off-screen.

Her career has experienced a remarkable ascent, attracting major brands seeking her representation. In 2022, Awinja was voted as the star of the year in a poll that included notable personalities such as Azziad, Pritty Vishy, and Charlene Ruto. She has secured lucrative deals with prominent brands like East Africa Breweries Limited, Exe Unga, Naivas Supermarkets, Odi bets, among others. Notably, she even had the opportunity to attend the World Cup in Qatar.

Beyond her comedic prowess, Awinja’s journey from poverty to prosperity remains relatively unknown to many. Her life story is marked by challenges, pain, mysteries, and triumph.

Born on September 8th, 1987, in Eastleigh, Jacky grew up in a family of five children, where she was the third-born. Despite facing poverty and dealing with a father who struggled with alcoholism, she recalls him as a family man dedicated to ensuring his children’s basic needs were met.

Tragedy struck when her younger brother was shot dead by police officers, leaving a lasting impact on Jacky. Her elder brother faced imprisonment and subsequent struggles with alcoholism after his wife’s untimely death. Awinja remains a pillar of support for her family, particularly for her brother and younger sisters still in school.

Her father’s demise due to alcoholism during her primary school years further fueled Jacky’s challenging upbringing. She credits her success to her mother, who singlehandedly raised the family.

Jacky’s journey into the entertainment industry began during her primary school years at Heshima Road Primary School in Eastleigh, where she discovered her acting talent. She continued to hone her skills in drama festivals and Sunday school performances during her secondary education at Kegoya High School.

Encouraged by legendary storyteller Kennedy Otukho, Jacky pursued acting after high school, joining Theater-Ebsemble and later attending Media School Africa for TV production. Despite her mother’s initial desire for her to become an air hostess, Jacky’s dedication to acting prevailed.

Her breakthrough came when she joined the local drama “Wash and Set” on NTV, leading to her encounter with Charles Bukeko. Joining “Papa Shirandula” transformed her life, propelling her to fame and creating a substantial fan base. Even after leaving the show, Awinja continued to act in skits that garnered her major endorsements.

Jacky’s journey hasn’t been without challenges, as she faced bullying in her Eastleigh neighborhood due to her jawline. Despite these struggles, she managed to overcome low self-esteem, embracing her uniqueness.

In her private life, Awinja keeps things low-key, maintaining a mystery around her personal affairs. Reports suggest she is married to Sync Media’s Executive Director, Alfred Ngachi, and she enjoys motherhood, cherishing the learning experiences it brings.