From the small town of Makongeni in Homa Bay to the hallowed halls of Parliament, Phelix Odiwour, popularly known as Jalang’o, has carved a unique and inspiring path that embodies the spirit of determination and resilience.
Having turned 40 on August 27, 2023, Jalang’o reflects on his remarkable journey from humble beginnings to becoming the Member of Parliament for Lang’ata in Nairobi.
A Childhood Marked by Struggle and Aspirations
Born and raised in the heart of Homa Bay County, young Jalang’o’s life was characterized by persistent scarcity. Growing up in a tight-knit family of five, he shared his childhood with three brothers and a sister.
“We didn’t always have enough,” he recalls, “sometimes we’d return from school to an empty table, but we’d swallow our hunger and keep pushing.”
His early education at Lake Primary School in Homa Bay was marked by dedication and diligence, evident from his score of 442 out of 700 marks in class 8.
Dashed Dreams and Unexpected Turns
Despite his impressive score, Jalang’o’s dreams of attending Maseno School were dashed by financial constraints. His father, a stoic figure in his life, struggled tirelessly to provide opportunities for his children.
Witnessing his father’s tears as the Maseno dream slipped away, Jalang’o’s resolve only grew stronger. He pursued education at Bar Kanyango Secondary School, his father’s sacrifices evident in his continued determination.
The Quest for Education and Discovery
Upon completing secondary school, Jalang’o found himself at a crossroads. The weight of unfulfilled dreams and societal expectations pressed upon him, leading him into Lake Victoria as a fisherman before landing a job in a fish processing company in Homa Bay.
Yet destiny had other plans in store. With a meagre sum of 800 Kenyan shillings, two shirts, and two pairs of trousers from his father, Jalang’o embarked on a journey to Nairobi.
He began his city life with odd jobs and a spirit ready to conquer challenges.
Discovering the Spotlight
Jalang’o’s journey led him to the slums of Kware in Embakasi, where his uncle guided him to start at the bottom, learning life’s lessons from the heart of the city.
His foray into acting began at Jicho 4 Productions, where he started as a minor cast member. However, his talents were soon recognized, and he found his true calling.
His breakthrough came with “Mwisho wa Kosa,” catapulting him to acclaim as the best actor. Jalang’o’s dedication and talent led to a series of roles on various local TV programs, further cementing his status as a household name.
The Radio Waves and Political Dreams
Jalang’o’s journey didn’t stop at television. His charismatic voice found a home on radio waves, and he became a notable radio personality, leaving a mark on various stations. However, the spark of political aspirations was growing within him.
Recognizing the importance of formal education, he pursued a degree in community development at Daystar University while juggling his media career. He understood that to effect real change, he needed to be armed with knowledge and skills.
From the Microphone to Parliament
In December 2021, Jalang’o took a leap of faith. Driven by a deep desire to give back to the community that had given him so much, he announced his decision to run for political office.
The journey was marked by dedication, including fundraising efforts and the support of trusted friends. His journey culminated in his election as the Member of Parliament for Lang’ata in Nairobi on the ODM ticket in August 2022.
Challenges and Aspirations
Despite his success, Jalang’o’s journey into politics hasn’t been without challenges. His association with President William Ruto led to friction with the ODM party.
Nevertheless, he remains committed to his constituents and his vision of a better Lang’ata. Looking ahead to the future, Jalang’o envisions seeking re-election in 2027, driven by the same spirit of service that has guided him throughout his extraordinary life.
Phelix Odiwour’s story is one of resilience, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of dreams. From his modest beginnings to becoming a Member of Parliament, Jalang’o’s journey is a testament to the power of ambition, hard work, and the belief that with the right attitude, anyone can rise above their circumstances and make a lasting impact on the world.