Fredrick Maina Mwangi, also known as Githingithia, is a well-known name in the local entertainment scene. However, this was not always the case for the comedian. Sixteen years ago, Githingithia was working as a tailor in Uhuru market in Nairobi’s Eastlands. But even while hunched over a sewing machine, he had music on his mind. Githingithia knew that his true passion was music and that it would be his ticket to success.
In 1997, Githingithia decided to take a social issue and turn it into a source of income. The topic of retrenchment in Kenya’s civil service and the windfalls that came with it was on everyone’s mind. Githingithia saw this as an opportunity to write a comedy skit about a man who receives a “golden handshake” and squanders it on a mistress. This skit, called Giagatika, was recorded and sold on tapes and CDs. It was so popular that the word “gacungwa,” the name of the mistress in the skit, became synonymous with mistress in Kenya.
Githingithia’s character, Githingithia, was so popular that he became known as “Earthquake” due to his size and money. The skit earned Githingithia over Sh90,000 a week, a significant leap from his days as a tailor.
Githingithia’s love for music started when he was a student at Ndathi Secondary School. He would make instruments and play in school, even sneaking out to play in the forest. However, when his mother found out, she burned his guitar. This incident did not discourage Githingithia and after writing his O’Levels, he joined legendary musician Joseph Kamaru Maina as his handyman. He eventually became a drummer in John Ndichu’s band.
Githingithia’s success as a comedian and musician is a testament to the power of turning tragedy into comedy and following one’s passion.