Papa Shirandula: Life & Times of the Late Citizen TV Actor

Papa Shirandula features in a football TV advert in 2014

Charles Bukeko will forever be remembered and revered by television drama fans both in Kenya and other nations. Famously known as Papa Shirandula, Bukeko passed away on Saturday, July 18, at the Karen Hospital, Nairobi.

The 58-year-old former Citizen TV actor was also a big name in the corporate sector having featured in various projects for Cocacola in the World Cup 2010 and Safaricom among others. 

Bukeko was born in Mumias, Kenya to parents Valeria Makokha and Cosmas Wafula and attended Jogoo Road Primary School and Upper Hill Secondary before venturing into theatre and film.

The actor, in a past interview, detailed that his breakthrough came when he was cast as Herold for the play, Nativity, at Braeburn Theatre in his early acting days. 

A file image of Papa Shirandula (centre) with fellow artists in 2016

"I think that is when people saw that I had a talent in acting. James Falkland, the brains behind Phoenix Theatre, approached me and trained me. He also featured me in all his movies," Bukeko stated.

He rose to fame when Citizen TV picked up his idea and together, they created the popular show Papa Shirandula which he featured alongside Jacqueline Nyaminde (Wilbroda).

Bukeko stated that he approached Citizen TV MD Wachira Waruru who appreciated and picked his idea which brought more comedians, such as Felix Odiwour (Jalang'o) into the limelight.

One of his fondest memories was during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where the residents identified him as one of their own after he featured in the Coca-Cola advert. 

"I remember this one moment when one prominent South African introduced me as one of their own. It was hilarious to those who knew me personally. I spent a lengthy time in South Africa mobilizing youths in preparation for the historic event on Africa’s soil, I also attribute the mix up to a number of commercials I did in South African," Bukeko recalled.

The deceased has also featured in several movies including The Constant Gardener (2005), Malooned (2007) and The Captain of Nakara (2012).

Bukeko was a multiple award-winning actor who bagged the Kalasha Award for ‘Best Actor in a TV Series’ in 2010.

He leaves behind his wife, and three children. 

A file image of Citizen TV actor Charles Bukeko known to many as Papa Shirandula
A file image of Citizen TV actor Charles Bukeko known to many as Papa Shirandula