In the 80s and 90s, on the Voice of Kenya (VOK) currently known as the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Mahoka was one of the most revered local drama series.
The comedy series featured notable names, key among them was Julius Mbaluto who was among the main cast.
Mbaluto portrayed the character dubbed Shombo Shomboka, a name that has stuck for decades.
In the early 90s, Mbaluto opted to relocate to the UK and the producer had to cut his character off. “It was a sad day for me and other casts,” Mbaluto told Kenyans.co.ke on Tuesday, October 12 while recalling his heydays.Undated photos of Veteran journalist Julius Mbaluto at City University London (left) and on Sky News (right)File
“The script was twisted in such a way that we went to a ship and I mistakenly boarded it. The ship departed as my colleagues cried and asked me to jump and swim but I could not,” Mbaluto recalled.
The character, Shombo Shomboka, left for a fictional area known as Gureki.
“That was my last act and show,” Mbaluto stated. “Every time I meet Kenyans, they inquisitively enquire where is Shombo?” he laughed at the memory that jolted him to remember how those he encounters vividly describe his performance then.
Prior to acting in Mahoka as Shombo Shomboka, Mbaluto was already a household name having starred in other shows on VOK and KBC after the rebranding.
He made his debut on TV in 1988 in a show dubbed Play of the Week.
“The show was widely watched on VOK as it was the only TV back then,” he recalled once more.
He later starred in The Will, an English detective series and Tahamaki (Beware) a Swahili detective version.
The main purpose of Tahamaki, he disclosed, was to educate viewers on hotspots that were synonyms with muggers and robbers. The media house and producers cooperated with the police who provided them with relevant information.
The thespian also starred in Mchezo wa Hadithi, a KBC special theatre show.
Where is he now?
“I went to the UK for further studies as I wanted a change in my career,” he stated.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Politics from London Guidhall University, did a postgraduate diploma in Broadcast Journalism at City University in London and a Master's degree in Communication and Media Studies from London Metropolitan University
The thespian turned journalist worked for the BBC World Service for nearly five years as a reporter. His reports aired on BBC Network Africa, Focus on Africa, BBC World Service and BBC African Productions.
He was also a broadcast journalist and political analyst at Carlton TV and other international television and radio channels, among them Deutch Welle, Press TV, Vox Africa, Ben TV and others.
Mbaluto further reported for - the Daily Nation, Standard Newspapers and The Star Newspaper and was the Chief Editor and Founder of Africa Exclusive News and East Africa Voice UK.
Recognised for his work, Mbaluto won the Open Door Awards in 2006 in the UK. The award was sponsored by Skillset, the body that monitors professional standards in the broadcasting industry in the UK.An undated photo of Julius Mbaluto (with headphones) inside a plane during a TV coverageFile
He was also nominated for BEFFTA Awards in the UK and Kenyans in the UK voted him as the Journalist of the year thereby winning UKAA 2012, Award.
In 2016, he was among Kenyans who were awarded honorary Doctorate Degrees from the Academy for Universal Global Peace (AUGP) in the UK.
Two years later in 2018, he was awarded BEFFTA's Legend's Award for services to global media
“Right now, I do global analysis for many media houses including Sky News and many more. In the last six years, I have been mentoring journalism students of all races at City University in London,” he stated adding that he also hosts Global "Africa in Focus" radio show that is broadcasted across the UK every Saturday.
The veteran journalist is also the founder of and publisher of Informer East Africa published in the UK. The newspaper that is widely circulated in the UK covers global and East African issues.
Mbaluto is also an avid football fan. He watches soccer across stadiums in the UK or at home with his wife, Caroline and two children, Charles and Japheth whenever time allows.
“I married in the UK, a beautiful Kenyan lady. My firstborn graduated with a Masters at Kings University and later got a job. The other is finishing his A levels,” he added.An undated photo of Julius Mbaluto at Colourful Radio studios in the UKFile
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