How comedian Gilbert Wanyonyi “MTUMISHI” has made it big through farming
Popular comedian Gilbert ‘Mtumishi’ Wanyonyi appears regularly on Kenyan TV. His rise to success began after he set up Kreative Generations, a community youth group which he founded with friends in Nairobi, where members earn a living through the unusual mix of entertainment and farming.
Kreative Generations is part of Farm Africa’s Urban Agriculture Project in Dagoretti, Nairobi. The project helps youth groups and schools grow nutritious food, and keep livestock in an urban environment.
Gilbert, 28, grew up in a Kenyan slum, and has worked with Farm Africa since 2013, growing pepper, kale and leafy greens with the other 18 members of the Kreative Generations group. He’s convincing young Kenyans that growing food isn’t just for old people.
‘Being a street kid is a really tough life’
“I am born and bred in Kawangware, Nairobi, and grew up in a one room shack with my family. My mum worked very hard doing long hours as a house help and selling kale. She was very supportive to us morally and spiritually but being brought up by a single parent meant that we didn’t have enough money to pay for schools fees and other essentials.
I became a street kid when I was seven, earning money by selling scrap metal and plastic. Being a street kid is a really tough life – you lack nutrition, you become ill, it gets cold but there is no place to accommodate you. I hung out with other street kids but I felt very bad about missing school.
I was around nine years old when I returned to class. I’d missed two years and some of the other children would laugh at me, but it got better over time and the teachers were supportive. In class we used to imitate teachers and the other students would say, “Gilbert stand up and make us laugh.” That is how my comedy started but at first I didn’t think I could make a career out of it.
Kreative Generations has become a full time job. I’m now able to take care of myself, my mum and siblings. Humour is a good way to reach young people because it’s fun and one thing we talk about in our stand up is farming. Everyone needs food and we want to show young people that you can do urban farming in a small plot in the city.
We tell young people that farming is cool and it’s not just for people who are retired or poor living in the countryside. Agriculture is being embraced all over the nation and we want to show young people that it is a serious business!”